A modern cricket photographer using digital single-lens reflex cameras and high-speed motor drives can take 5,000 photos in a day’s play. With such a surfeit of images, the quality of seeing is diminished. For most of his career from the 1970s to the 2010s, English photographer Patrick Eagar would shoot four or five rolls of film, or around 150 to 180 pictures. An Eagar predecessor such as Dennis Oulds, using a plate camera, would take seventeen shots. As the photographers using plate cameras often took set positions, their technology restricted their view and they did not use the remote action devices pioneered by the 35mm men. Even so, the change to newer technology left some notable practitioners behind. According to Eagar, a leading photographer from the 1940s to the 1970s, Ken Kelly, used 35mm like a plate camera.

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  • Custom Article Title Bernard Whimpress reviews 'Feeling is the Thing that Happens in 1000th of a Second: A season of cricket photographer Patrick Eagar' by Christian Ryan and 'Lillee & Thommo: The deadly pair’s reign of terror' by Ian Brayshaw
  • Contents Category Cricket
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    A modern cricket photographer using digital single-lens reflex cameras and high-speed motor drives can take 5,000 photos in a day’s play. With such a surfeit of images, the quality of seeing is diminished. For most of his career from the 1970s to the 2010s, English photographer Patrick Eagar would shoot four or five rolls of film ...

  • Book Title Feeling is the Thing that Happens in 1000th of a Second
  • Book Author Christian Ryan
  • Book Subtitle A season of cricket photographer Patrick Eagar
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Riverrun, $35 hb, 248 pp, 9781786486820
  • Book Subtitle 2 The deadly pair’s reign of terror
  • Book Title 2 Lillee & Thommo
  • Book Author 2 Ian Brayshaw
  • Biblio 2 Hardie Grant, $29.99 pb, 272 pp, 9781743792599
  • Book Cover 2 Small Book Cover 2 Small
  • Author Type 2 Author
  • Book Cover 2 Book Cover 2
  • Book Cover 2 Path images/ABR_Online_2018/January-February_2018/Lillee%20and%20Thommo.jpg

Fifty years ago, Brian Scheer, a tall, sinewy Imperials fast bowler, thrilled a handful of boys by driving bowlers of all descriptions straight over their heads, depositing their deliveries in clumps of thick weeds on a low hill at the northern end of the Murray Bridge High School No. 2 Oval. Imps practised on Thursday evenings, and Scheer was the regular opening bowler in B grade, with just the occasional appearance in the first eleven. He was a useful batsman and made the odd twenty or thirty in matches, but the glory of his strokes, which resembled majestic seven irons by their steepling trajectory, was reserved for practice. I remember he would point his left toe high down the wicket, raise his arms shoulder high, his bat would point vertically skyward and his swing would carry through freely like a golf stroke to its completion. If the Murray Valley Standard had ever sent a photographer to Imps practice sessions or a keen amateur snapper had been on hand, one or the other might have captured something special, a small-town version of Victor Trumper’s ‘Jumping Out to Drive’.

At the end of his new book, Stroke of Genius, Gideon Haigh writes ‘that no great batsman has ever had a more faithful partner than Victor Trumper his photographer [George Beldam]’, because the man is epitomised by the image Beldam took at London’s Kennington Oval in 1905. Words failed to convey an adequate impression of his play. The photo is important in defining distinctions in cricket and particularly batting: art versus science; function versus form; how versus how many; a Golden Age of romance and aesthetics versus industry, productivity, and measurement. Interestingly, Haigh also suggests that in the present visual century Beldam’s picture ‘has secured for Trumper a sizeable corner, while of Bradman there exists no single, quintessential image’. Has art triumphed?

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  • Custom Article Title Bernard Whimpress reviews 'Stroke of Genius: Victor Trumper and the shot that changed cricket' by Gideon Haigh
  • Contents Category Sport
  • Book Title Stroke of Genius
  • Book Author Gideon Haigh
  • Book Subtitle Victor Trumper and the shot that changed cricket
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Hamish Hamilton $39.99 hb, 332 pp, 9781926428734
Monday, 29 February 2016 09:46

Letters to the Editor - March 2016

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND BORDER CONTROL

Dear Prime Minister and Minister Dutton,

As writers committed to protecting and defending human rights, and as citizens of conscience, we the undersigned wish to express our deep abhorrence of the ongoing mistreatment of refugees in Australia's offshore detention centres.

As writers, we are called in our work to engage imaginatively and empathically with the fundamental issues of our time. In so doing we are acutely conscious of the human impact of historical events, and attuned to those individuals whose stories have been repressed and silenced. As one of many countries engaged with the global refugee crisis, Australia is today confronted with the most profound questions about the sanctity of human life, the safeguarding of human dignity and the limits of anguish.

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  • Custom Article Title Letters to the Editor - March 2016
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Second ball, day three of the 2014 Boxing Day Test match and Australian wicket-keeper Brad Haddin dives full length in front of first slip Shane Watson to catch Indian number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara off Ryan Harris single-handed in the webbing of his glove. Virat Kohli replaces Pujara, and in the last over of the day he is still there, with 169 runs. He flashes and gets a thick edge to a ball by Mitchell Johnson. Haddin again dives wide to his right and takes another brilliant catch. Either miss could be forgiven: the first for the player not having removed sleep from his eyes, the second for visualising the froth on a beer after play. These were two of the most remarkable wicket-keeping dismissals I have witnessed, but they passed without comment.

Fast-forward half a year to the first morning of the first Ashes Test at Cardiff. England's batting is in strife at 3 for 43. Joe Root comes to the crease and is almost cleaned up first ball. Next ball he edges to Haddin, who dives full length to his right, only for the ball to rebound from his glove to the ground. Within minutes slow-motion replays have shown the miss ten times. Trial by technology! What could have been 4 for 43 becomes 430, and England goes on to win the match. Armchair experts in Australia immediately call for Haddin to be dropped from the side.

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  • Custom Article Title Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Keepers' by Malcolm Knox
  • Contents Category Cricket
  • Book Title The Keepers
  • Book Author Malcolm Knox
  • Book Subtitle The Players at the heart of Australian Cricket
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Viking, $45 hb, 400 pp, 9780670078523

Enterprise and energy are integral to this story. Without the enterprise of James Lillywhite and John Conway there would have been no Australian tour to England in 1878. Nottingham professional Lillywhite, who captained England in the first-ever Test matches at Melbourne in March-April 1877, arranged the English fixture list and former Victorian all-rounder Conway chose a twelve man touring party, although subsequent disputes over Billy Midwinter would reduce the number to eleven. Without the energy of Australian captain Dave Gregory and his team playing continuously for fourteen months in the Australian colonies, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and the Australian colonies again, the development of international cricket might have been long delayed.

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  • Custom Article Title Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Strangers Who Came Home' by John Lazenby
  • Contents Category Cricket
  • Book Title The Strangers Who Came Home: The First Australian Cricket Tour of England
  • Book Author John Lazenby
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Bloomsbury, $29.95 pb, 302 pp, 9781408844663

Emeritus Professor Bob Reece has published widely on Aboriginal history and on New Norcia history in particular. In a brief preface he notes that his paternal grandfather and father were fine cricketers and that he (a poor player) has followed the game from the time of Don Bradman’s Invincibles in the late 1940s. When he learned of the Benedictine Mission’s Aboriginal cricketers who played between 1879 and 1906, the story demanded to be told. Without doubt Reece is the best person to tell it.

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  • Custom Article Title Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Invincibles' by Bob Reece
  • Contents Category Australian History
  • Book Title The Invincibles: New Norcia’s Aboriginal Cricketers 1879–1906
  • Book Author by Bob Reece
  • Biblio Histrionics Publishing, $29.95 pb, 171 pp, 9780646920375
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 15:00

Another lap!

The Commonwealth Games, like the Commonwealth of Nations, often seem irrelevant. I intended to declare my bias in this review when I found author Brian Oliver saying the same thing on the first page of his introduction. But, as the author points out, the Games have survived the political, cultural, and sporting odds for more than eighty years and have a rich sporting history.

In explaining his reasons for writing The Commonwealth Games, Oliver states: ‘it was a challenge, because nobody in Britain had done so before and because … there were a great many untold stories worth telling.’ One of the author’s main claims (and that of some respondents) is that the Commonwealth Games are the ‘Friendly Games’, in contrast with the nationalism associated with the Olympics. Surely, though, this contention is dubious, especially in Australia, where, as former national athletics coach and academic John Daly has written, ‘our national sport is winning’. Medal tallies are taken seriously by athletes, the mass media, and a large proportion of sports followers.

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  • Custom Article Title Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Commonwealth Games'
  • Contents Category Sport
  • Book Title The Commonwealth Games
  • Book Author Brian Oliver
  • Book Subtitle Extraordinary Stories Behind the Medals
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Bloomsbury, $29.99 pb, 210 pp, 9781472907325
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 17:06

Malcolm Knox: Bradman’s War

At last, new Bradman territory to be conquered: the Don 1939–45 or, if we discount the ‘phoney war’ (‘Business as Usual’, as Robert Menzies said of that first phase in World War II), perhaps 1941–45. I imagined a slim volume. Not so! Instead, there is a catch to the subtitle of Bradman’s War: How the 1948 Invincibles Turned the Cricket Pitch into a Battlefield, which indicates that we will be on more familiar terrain.‘More familiar’ because this book is an attempt at revisionist history. Questioning the Bradman idolatry and the invincibility of the Invincibles is a suitable aim. However, the main task for the revisionist historian is to provide either fresh new evidence or a powerful reinterpretation of existing evidence as part of formulating a balanced argument: Malcolm Knox does neither.

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  • Custom Article Title Bernard Whimpress reviews 'Bradman’s War'
  • Contents Category Cricket
  • Book Title Bradman’s War
  • Book Author Malcolm Knox
  • Book Subtitle How the 1948 Invincibles Turned the Cricket Pitch into a Battlefield
  • Author Type Author
  • Biblio Viking, $39.99 hb, 447 pp, 9780670076109

Family histories have their limitations. One compensation is to discover famous or infamous ancestors. In most Australian states, disinterring a convict becomes a badge of honour. In South Australia, having a nineteenth-century premier and a noted pastoralist in one’s lineage advances a claim to fame. Author James Waite Morgan is the great-grandson of two notable colonial figures, and the captivating title of his new book, The Premier and the Pastoralist, above portraits of William Morgan and Peter Waite on the jacket, intimates a strong relationship between two powerful men. There isn’t one.

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  • Custom Article Title Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Premier and the Pastoralist: William Morgan and Peter Waite' by James Waite
  • Contents Category Australian History
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    Family histories have their limitations. One compensation is to discover famous or infamous ancestors. In most Australian states, disinterring a convict becomes a badge of honour. In South Australia, having a nineteenth-century premier and a noted pastoralist in one’s lineage advances a claim to fame ...

Friday, 25 March 2011 23:41

Gideon Haigh: Out of the Running

Song and script

Bernard Whimpress

 

OUT OF THE RUNNING: THE 2010–11 ASHES SERIES
by Gideon Haigh
Viking
$29.95 pb, 285 pp, 9780670076017

 

In the early 1990s the cricket tour book, like the western movie, seemed dead and buried. The formulas played themselves out around 1970, though the genre had a strong structure which allowed for fitful new interpretations. Direct telecasts of Test cricket and video highlights of series appeared likely to kill the tour book. Who needed to read about it when, having witnessed the games ball by ball, judgement could be passed again with the aid of electronic recording equipment? Yet a Test series offered a strong structure on which a skilful author could make interesting variations.

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  • Contents Category Cricket