The Graham Barlow Story: Better Than He Knew by Graham Barlow with James Hawkins

The Graham Barlow Story: Better Than He Knew
by Graham Barlow with James Hawkins

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


Pages: 256

MRP: £19.99

Copies may be purchased from Better Than He Knew | Pitch Publishing


This strikes me as a nice and kind book. There is something endearing about reading of someone undertaking his first book - and something I wish him well with - with his hero. During the subject's benefit year, James Hawkins had written offering help: although on that occasion the help had already been provided, it is refreshing to see that, many years later, he has been able to collaborate with and produce The Graham Barlow Story. A Middlesex stalwart, electric fielder and, in short, a worthy subject.

Two things stick in my mind when I remember Graham Barlow. At the age of 11, I was watching the England and West Indies ODI at Scarborough in 1976 and remember distinctly seeing the ball returned from the outfield and managing, via a ricochet straight up the wicket, to hit both sets of wickets. I wondered whether both batsmen (Barlow and Alan Knott) might be dismissed. In the event, neither was. I was delighted to find this on YouTube recently. I assumed that this example was the type of peculiarity that only I would remember but was delighted to be proved wrong when James brings this up in the very first chapter. Sign of a good book, in my estimation!

The other memory was around four years later when I found myself at a Lord's training course during a Middlesex match. During a break or at the end of our day's coaching, I watched Graham Barlow pursue a ball to the boundary with what appeared to be the speed of light. Graham's fielding is a regular subject throughout the book's pages.

The book is interestingly written. James writes the story whilst Graham's quotes throughout the pages embellish it. As can be expected, we learn about Graham's upbringing and in addition to his many fine Middlesex exploits (including the odd wicket), he was also a fine rugby player, especially at college.

Although his Test appearances were minimal and his contributions modest, the section on his tour to India in 1976-77 - thinking about it, something else I also remember associating him with - is fascinating. The many observations of his fellow players also add much to this fine cricketer who went on to coach in South Africa and New Zealand. The book also shows Graham to be well travelled. The statistical section at the end is also very thorough and fascinating, breaking down his Middlesex figures by competition

There have been difficulties along the way for Graham, but I like the fair and generous style of James's writing. That might seem natural and understandable when writing about and with one's hero but I like the nice tone of the book and the decency and openness of Graham's quotes. In addition to learning more about this well-known cricketer, The Graham Barlow Story is not only entertaining but a very good and enjoyable read.