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Cricket's Great All-Rounders - Book Review by Gulu Ezekiel
by Gulu Ezekiel
Nov 12, 2008
Cricket's Great All-Rounders
By Kersi Meher-Homji
New Holland Publishers Australia Pty Ltd
312 pages; illustrated
Price: A$45

Kersi Meher-Homji has been the voice of Indian cricket in Australia since the '70s when he moved Down Under from Bombay. Old-timers will be familiar with his dispatches in the late and much lamented Sportsweek magazine.

Nephew of one-Test wicket-keeper Khershed Meher-Homji (1936), this is Kersi's 12th cricket book.

A specialist in cricket trivia (and a research scientist and Virologist by profession), he has done in-depth research on famous cricketing families (the subject of one of his books) and has also written extensively on statistical oddities such as the curse of the 90s for batsmen and famous debuts and swansongs.

All-rounders in cricket have long been the object of fascination, the interest peaking in the '80s. That was due to the remarkable coincidence of four of the greatest of all time battling it out on the international stage at the same time. India's Kapil Dev, Sir Richard Hadlee of New Zealand, England's Sir Ian Botham and Pakistani Imran Khan all made their debut in the '70s, peaked in the next decade and finally called it a day in the 1990s. Their individual battles added plenty of spice to encounters between the four countries and the debate still rages as to who was the best of the lot. There is no debate though as to who is the greatest all-rounder in cricket history. Just as Sir Don Bradman remains peerless when it comes to batting, no one has ever approached the statistics and absolute domination of Caribbean legend Sir Garry Sobers.

Kersi's portrait of Sobers has nice personal touches and the fact that he has been watching cricket for over half a century means he has seen in action many of the heroes he has portrayed in this book.

Uniquely, Kersi has also included wicket-keeper/batsmen in the book which is a tribute to their unique all-round skills. The likes of Rod Marsh, Alan Knott, Alec Stewart, Godfrey Evans, Adam Gilchrist and Farokh Engineer are standout performers in this category.

Billed as 'the greatest across three centuries and nine continents', the book traces the rise of the all-rounder from Australia's 19th century masters George Giffen and Monty Noble to the modern greats like Jacques Kallis and Andrew Flintoff. The production quality is excellent with glossy art paper and plenty of striking action photos. It might have been a good idea though if the photos of the ODI all-round greats had depicted them exclusively in their coloured outfits rather than in whites.

The foreword is by Alan Davidson, arguably Australia’s last truly great all-rounder.
 
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