by Vic Mills

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

Contact: www.pitchpublishing.co.uk; info@pitchpublishing.co.uk

Pages: 336

MRP: £12.99

Copies may be purchased from Of Battenberg, Bombay And Blag | Pitch Publishing


Vic Mills’s memoirs in his book Of Battenberg, Bombay and Blag are fascinating and many club cricketers will, like me, be reminded what can and did happen on a Saturday (and other) afternoons.

Vic seems a very interesting person and has led an exciting life, much of which is recounted within these pages. Cricket has taken him from the more, I imagine, serene setting of Lindum C.C. in Lincolnshire to Australia and India over countless visits. Although he writes self-deprecatingly of his cricketing abilities, I suspect that he was a decent player. Certainly the photos suggest it to me.

The Battenberg in the title refers to a good old cricket tea and the endless amount of the cake which he has consumed. On his playing days at Lindum, he regales the reader about the differences between club cricket in the 1960s onwards and today: the communication difficulties which most certainly would not exist today; the cricketers with whom he played with and against, and his own performances (lightly worn). I empathised completely with his take on fielding in the gully from the bitter experience of a broken finger once, and a mouthful of blood on another occasion following a savage cut and, technically, a dropped catch (and then being told not to come into the pavilion and clean myself up as it would disturb the tea ladies).

Bravely, Vic went and played club cricket in Australia and toured around the country. He seems a dynamic soul managing to inveigle himself into Test grounds with what looked like a press pass, but wasn’t. I am not at all surprised after reading this book that he did write freelance articles back in the 1980s for Wisden Cricket Monthly, courtesy of the then-editor and well-known cricket historian, David Frith, a man who also helped him in Australia. His adventures take him back to Packer days as a spectator, as well as more recent trips. It is no surprise to find that he returned a suitably hardened-up cricketer

His takes on modern-day cricket are interesting and unshrinking and strike me as being entirely commonsensical, and most of which I profoundly agree with. Whether the powers-that-be read Of Battenberg, Bombay and Blag and take note remains to be seen...

For me, his recollections of India are fascinating. His first visit to the country bore an uncanny resemblance (even down to the name of the person he was meeting in the former Madras) of my second visit to the country at a similar time. He has a keen eye for the kind of details which many travellers to the country will doubtless recognise and most of his experiences, both in India and Australia, are exciting. Again, I enjoyed relating to similar escapades. There’s no doubt that he writes well, so again I was not surprised to find that he wrote for The Times of India.

Vic’s main claim to fame, though, is the fine, charitable work he started in providing poor children with cricket equipment and the opportunity to play the game. His dedication – and undoubted stress in shifting vast amounts of donated cricket gear not only out of England but, maybe more pertinently, into India as well as much else – is to be greatly applauded and he has undoubtedly changed the lives of many young cricketers in a poor area of Mumbai (formerly Bombay, as it was when Vic first travelled to India) and elsewhere. The project has since extended much further still. There will be many who are grateful to Vic and his fellow supporters in their instigation of Project Front Foot. It is good to find much about this worthy cause not only in Of Battenberg, Bombay and Blag, but also on the internet.