Book Review – Jim Laker: Nineteen for Ninety by Brian Scovell

I met the author, Brian Scovell, in November 2015 at the Folkestone Book Festival where I bought a signed copy of this book and, such is the length of my book reading list, it is only now I have managed to read what I found to be a riveting book.

Jim Laker was one of my sporting heroes.  Even though I was born and brought up in Bristol I have lived most of my life in Surrey and have followed the exploits of Surrey County Cricket Club for many years.  Laker plied his trade in a generation of cricketers that preceded those I followed and I only got to know of him from his work as a TV commentator long after he retired as a player.

He seldom appeared on camera but from his manner and through the sound of his voice always appeared to be a gentleman.  It therefore came as a complete surprise that I read that he was banned from Surrey CCC and the prestigious MCC for four and seven years respectively.  This was due to his book, “Over to Me,” which was ghost written shortly after his playing days and criticised a number of prominent men who were instrumental in running national and international cricket at the time.  Laker admitted that he should have been more vigilant in reading the proofs prior to publication but publishers then, as they still do now, relish controversy as this invariably serves to increase book sales.

But it is his expertise as arguably England’s foremost off-spin bowler is how he should be remembered.  His feat of taking 19 test wickets in one game in 1956 was a remarkable achievement and will probably never be surpassed.

This is an adsorbing read for anyone interested in the game.  On first reading the events appear dated but it is the nature of the game of cricket that occurrences similar to those that befell Laker can happen today.

Keith Jahans

 

Jim Laker: Nineteen for Ninety by Brian Scovell
is published in hardback by The History Press

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