IF NOT ME, WHO by Andrew Murtagh

IF NOT ME, WHO
by Andrew Murtagh

Published by Pitch Publishing
A2 Yeoman Gate, Yeoman Way
Worthing, Sussex BN13 3QZ

Website: www.pitchpublishing.co.uk

Pages: 384

MRP: £19.99

   

It is always nice to receive an Andrew Murtagh book. His previous subjects include cricketers with whom he played during his Hampshire days, and all are kind and generous. They are nice books to read.

If Not Me, Who? is a biography of the late Tony Greig, a person the author did not play with but whose wicket he took, when Greig was England captain, for a duck when Hampshire played Sussex at Hove in a John Player League in 1976. With Hampshire winning by just 15 runs, the wicket can be said to have been an important one.

The book's sub-title is The Reluctant Rebel which may, I suppose, surprise some. I started following cricket at the time Greig was in the middle of his comparatively brief Test career - made briefer by his involvement with Kerry Packer - and was amazed watching his exuberant performances and run-up to the wicket, arms pumping like pistons.

We learn much about Tony's upbringing in South Africa, his family and his passage to England (and, later, its cricket captain). His younger brother, Ian, is much-quoted as are many others with whom Tony played with and against. Andrew Murtagh's own reminiscences of his playing days make for wonderful and fun reading.

Greig's captaincy record is analysed at international and county level and, although statistically there have been better, Tony's stands out for its enthusiasm and some players quoted would go through thick and thin for him. The memorable Indian tour of 1976/77 was one of his finest triumphs.

There were a few episodes for which Tony Greig will be remembered in addition to the Packer programme, including the Vaseline Affair in India; the running out of Alvin Kallicharran in the West Indies and the infamous comments during the same tourists' tour of 1976 being three examples. Again, these are mentioned kindly and fairly. The chapter on Tony's involvement with Packer is illuminating.

As is also well-known, Greig became an enthusiastic and distinctive commentator and his comments are instantly recognisable. His untimely death, aged just 66, took away from the cricketing world one of the generation's most exciting individuals but we are grateful to Andrew Murtagh for adding to the comparatively small number of books written about Tony Greig.