Original Spin
Misadventures in Cricket

by Vic Marks

Published by:
Allen & Unwin, c/o Atlantic Books
Ormond House, 26-27 Boswell Street,

Website: www.allenandunwin.com

Pages: 328

MRP: £20p


As a former Latin pupil of Vic's, I am delighted to see him break into print once again but this time with his autobiography.

For those - and I am sure, many - of us lucky enough to know Vic, Original Spin is exactly what we would expect of the man. Modest and self-deprecating, Vic, though, has always impressed as a shrewd and very switched on cricketer as doubtless his reports in the Guardian and Observer reveal. A most astute man, his observations are very well worth listening to. It was fun reading about his own portrayal of himself as a cricketer but I will always remember a comment from a Blundell's legend who, in a moment of seriousness, described Vic as being one of a rare few able to put the ball on a sixpence at will. Trust me, high praise and Vic's was a fine and worthy career. Needless to say, the book is very generous to those mentioned.

Vic's achievements as a cricketer are worthy. Despite mentioning that five of his thirteen wickets in the 1983 World Cup came at his home ground of Taunton, he does not mention that those collective five are still England's best figures in the World Cup. His batting may well have been described as entertaining but he was still good enough to record three successive fifties at the end of his Test career. A respected and important cog in the Somerset wheel in their heyday years at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s, he picked up Man of the Match awards in two finals.

The reader will also, though, pick up on a more serious manner occasionally. The reading and facing of Qadir and next year's newest short formula tournament, The Hundred, being a couple. The Richards and Garner saga which also led to the departure of Botham is also an area where Vic was unable to give reassurance to Peter Roebuck that the latter's actions were correct.

Yes, of course I would have loved to have read more of Vic the teacher. Needless to say, we were delighted to have been taught by him and his relaxed persona was helpful in my early days. I remember the VW Beetle also and have fond memories of his lessons (which does not convey that there was much mischief on our part actually...)

There is much which is engaging about Vic and, in a highly professional era and one in which attitudes and many aspects have changed, there is much to be said and enjoyed about the likes of people like Vic Marks. He mentions that some of his other books were shrewdly adorned with photos and yet Original Spin, whilst containing a good number of photographs (and a decent sized index), is indeed his magnum opus and it is an impressive read not only for the story of his life but for his analysis of the game being played today. Journalistic deadlines and the art of writing are also illuminating as are his many and amusing memories which are a joy. Test Match Special, where he is a much-admired regular, is another pleasing source of interest and It genuinely does make a refreshing change to read such a book.

There are many pleasant aspects which many of us have been through and will recognise and Vic's dry humour and description make it thoroughly entertaining: fielding anxieties in tight situations and Roebuck's quoted text about Vic's driving skills for example. In a cheerful way, I hoped that my night-time reading of ten or twelve pages might have coincided without coming across the word seldom but I went away disappointed and delighted on that score.

Original Spin is a terrific book and I wish Vic every success with it.

Bene factum, Victor!

(Quod est verum? Non placet responsa in Postcard...)