Saturday 4 December 2021

Guest Review: The Glovemen: The World’s Best Wicket-Keepers By Jack Pollard

Review: There are many books on the game of cricket that feature batters and/or bowlers, but very few that feature the specialist fielding position of wicket-keeper. This book is the exception to the rule. The wicket-keeper is the player in the team whose job is to stand behind the wicket and to stop the balls from the bowler that have gone past the bat and not hit the wicket, thus preventing the conceding of runs known as “byes”. He or she also has the best opportunity after the bowler to dismiss the batter, either by catching the ball if it has hit the bat, usually on its edge, or by stumping the batter if he or she has stepped outside the popping crease in attempting to play a stroke.

This book, published in 1993, is a history of famous wicket-keepers in the men’s game, from the late 19th century up until the book’s compilation and publication. It describes the many characters who have filled the position and also discusses how the role and tactics have evolved over the years. It is also interesting to see how the protective equipment (wicket-keepers wear pads and are the only member of the fielding team allowed to wear gloves, hence the title of the book) has improved over the years. At one stage, because of the limited protection offered, wicket-keepers suffered numerous injuries from the constant pounding their hands, and other parts of the body, took from balls bowled at great pace. The author, Jack Pollard, is Australian and the book gives more coverage to Australian cricket than to the other Test Match playing teams. There are numerous photographs throughout, and it was good to see old pictures of some of the famous wicket-keepers whose names, but not their faces, were familiar to me. There are also detailed statistical appendices at the end of the book giving details of the number of dismissals, and records of the fewest byes conceded. Because these details are included in the appendices, I thought that some of the statistical detail included in the chapters was redundant.

Overall, I would say that this is quite a niche book, and because of its emphasis on Australian cricketers, it would have limited appeal in other countries.

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