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

January 29, 2018

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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Travels in Southern England – The Folkestone Book Festival – Monday 23 November

November 24, 2015

Sport Unwrapped
Brian Scovell, former cricket and football writer for the Daily Mail, gave an entertaining talk about the many characters he knew in the world of sport, including Sepp Blatter, Denis Compton, Danny Blanchflower and many more. He was there to promote his autobiography, Thank You Hermann Goering: The Life of a Sports Writer, which looks to be a good read but I managed to persuade him to sell me a copy of his book on England and Surrey spin bowler, Jim Laker, which he duly signed.

Keith Jahans

Sport UnwrappedThank You Hermann Goering: The Life of a Sports Writer
is published by Amberley Publishing and
is available in hardcover, paperback and as an ebook

Jim LakerJim Laker: Nineteen for 90 is published by
The History Press and is available in hardcover