Review published on September 12, 2017.
Nigel McCrery has followed up his book The Final Wicket, which covered cricketing fatalities during the First World War, with The Coming Storm, which covers cricketers killed during the Second World War. At the beginning of the war, the 1939 cricket season was almost over, and the West Indies touring team cancelled their last five matches and left the country.
England in 1939 toured under the MCC banner and had a forthcoming winter tour over to India, which was cancelled. The treasures that were housed at Lords, including the famous urn, were removed to a secret location for safe keeping throughout the war.
Just as The Final Wicket covered the cricketer, his statistics and the circumstances of his death, it is the same in this book. What McCrery has done is record how during the war twelve test cricketers were killed, five English, two South Africans, one Australian and one New Zealander, as well as one hundred and thirty other first class cricketers. There is also a brief history of what happened to cricket during the war years.
Lieutenant Peter Eckersley MP, Member of Parliament for Manchester Exchange, and captain of Lancashire Country Cricket Club, made 292 first class appearances and was 36 when killed in a flying accident in 1940. Eckersley was one of seventeen cricketers killed in 1940 and the fourth Member of Parliament to be killed, as well as one of many cricketers who were pilots who would be killed in the war. Also, one of the first test cricketers was killed in this year, Pilot Officer George Macaulay, who played for Yorkshire with eight England appearances.
The one Australian test cricketer to be killed was Pilot Officer Ross Gregory, who also played for Victoria, and St Kilda Cricket Club’s Ross Gregory Oval is named after him. He was also selected to play in the fourth Ashes test in 1936 and made his appearance at the Adelaide Oval.
Once again, this is an excellent account of cricketers whose names have long been forgotten, who brought great pleasure to the many that saw them play. Cricket during the inter-war years was something of a spectator spectacle, selling out, even for county and other first class games. Today they have been forgotten, but their sacrifice should never be forgotten. This book is an excellent testament to their service and to the game they loved.
A fantastic book, read it and refer back to it, for all cricket anoraks.
Paul Diggett 5/3
The Coming Storm: Test and First Class Cricketers Killed in World War II by Nigel McCrery
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