NOT OUT AT CLOSE OF PLAY by Dennis Amiss with James Graham-Brown

by Dennis Amiss with James Graham-Brown

Published by The History Press
97 St George's Place, Cheltenham,
Gloucestershire GL50 3QB


Pages: 224

MRP: £20


Research shows me that Dennis Amiss's earlier autobiography, In Search of Runs, was published before his possibly career-defining, comeback innings of 203 at The Oval in 1976. This most recent book, Not Out at Close of Play, updates his story to include not only this fine innings but relates his becoming one of a rare breed of cricketer who scored 100 hundreds. Additionally, Dennis became a successful Chief Executive of Warwickshire, the team he represented throughout his career.

Maybe wrongly, whenever I think of Dennis Amiss, I remember the previously mentioned, comeback innings of 203 with a remodelled stance against the mighty West Indian attack and the ball often racing over the parched outfield. Although he was in and out of the Test team, it still seems odd to find that he did not play more than 50 Tests, Tests in which he averaged over 46 with 11 hundreds. There was an even higher score against the West Indies, an unbeaten 262, which helped England salvage a draw in 1974 and ultimately level the series with a narrow victory in the last Test. Amiss had a remarkable record against the West Indies, but a modest one against Australia.

A man who was taught by E.J. "Tiger" Smith on how to construct large scores, testimony to this is that eight of his eleven Test hundreds were over 150. As Dennis recounts in the early part of his career, it took time to settle and find a way to overcome the hurdle of scoring a century - as well as his early struggles in the Test side - before making vast scores routinely. His hundredth hundred came in the twilight of his career in 1986.

Like many before and after him, not everything was entirely rosy and he recounts the stance people took towards him after joining Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket and, later, an unauthorised tour to South Africa.

Not Out at Close of Play, written with James Graham-Brown, himself a county cricketer for Kent and Derbyshire in the same era, is modestly written and a pleasing, generous account but one which shows a stubbornness in Amiss the cricketer and administrator. Sir Geoffrey Boycott has contributed a very worthy foreword to the book.

It is nice to read much about Test cricket in the book. Dennis was, though, prolific in the one-day game and indeed scored the first two ODI hundreds.

Dennis recounts his time as the chief executive of Warwickshire, a period which included a time when they were almost unstoppable in the mid-90s and could count on some very fine overseas signings in Brian Lara and Allan Donald, amongst others.

It is good to read this account of one of cricket's finest batsmen and administrators. Congratulations are to be given to both Dennis Amiss and James Graham-Brown, as well as The History Press for producing such a nicely put together book.