Gilly The Turbulent Life of Roy Gilchrist by Mark Peel

Gilly The Turbulent Life of Roy Gilchrist
by Mark Peel

Published by:
Pitch Publishing
9 Donnington Park, 85 Birdham Road,
Chichester, West Sussex PO20 7AJ


Copies can be purchased from:

Pages: 224

MRP: £19.99


It is always good to receive a book written by Mark Peel whose many books are written on a wide variety of subjects and not just cricket.

Mark's latest book, Gilly, is a fascinating read on the feared West Indian fast bowler, Roy Gilchrist, a forerunner of the famous battery of West Indian fast bowlers of the 1970s. West Indian cricket has long produced many wonderful fast bowlers throughout its history and it is commonly accepted that Gilchrist was one of the fastest. Other names may be more familiar but Gilchrist, fairly or otherwise, had a reputation which has lived long in the memory. This book tells his story.

Gilchrist's 57 wickets (albeit in only 13 Tests) sees him placed joint-29th in a general list of West Indian fast bowlers. He will have been far quicker than others in the list as some old footage available on YouTube will testify. Why did he play so few Tests? The answer is given.

What is admirable about Gilly The Turbulent Times of Roy Gilchrist is Mark's impartiality towards his subject. Gilchrist, whose notorious reputation followed him around during his West Indian career and in Lancashire and Yorkshire leagues for a far longer time than his Test career, was born into an impoverished background, a reason which could have been used for his behaviour both on and off the field. Mark, though, quotes many people who knew Gilchrist: some views back up the theory that he was problematic, others say how he was a terrific team mate. This impartiality allows the reader to form their own opinion.

Looking at his figures for various teams in Lancashire, there can be little doubt from the remarkable bowling analyses that Gilchrist was a quite terrific bowler. Whilst most of his cricket was played in England, it is also fascinating reading about the professionals who graced these leagues. The scores maybe reflect the highest quality of the bowling seeing the names of some of Test cricket's greatest names.

In one Test appearance, Pakistan's Hanif Mohammad may have had the better of Gilchrist whilst making Pakistan's highest individual score, 337. Hanif, however, said that he had nightmares about facing Gilchrist and indeed subsequently dropped down the order. Their paths crossed again in Lancashire.

It is difficult to be able to condone Gilchrist's on the field behaviour but it appears that he mellowed in later life and was often a great help to team mates and had great respect for opposition players who impressed him. Some of his antics on and off the field - he spent time in prison - will likely raise eyebrows but there is no doubt that he was one of the biggest draws during his time in Lancashire. His Test career had ended when he was sent home from a tour to India and naturally this is written about in detail.

Beamers, fights, car crashes, explosive pace and views from many people make Gilly The Turbulent Times of Roy Gilchrist a fascinating read and congratulations once again to Mark Peel on this engrossing book.