RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
A History of Test Cricket
A History of Test Cricket by Liam Hauser - The Story and Statistics of Every Test Playing Nation

Published by New Holland Publishers

Web: www.newhollandpublishers.com

Pages: 505
Price: £16.99
Available from all good bookshops or call 01206-255777.

This outstanding publication explores every Test series in depth, so that cricket enthusiasts can relive the contests and see the unique ebb and flow of each Test. The book is sure to bring back some of the most emotional events to have taken place during the last 140 years of Test Cricket. The book contains profiles of all the cricketing legends.

The vital incidents that shape and influence the complexion and outcome of each Test match are illuminated. Because there are usually well over 1000 or even over 2000 balls bowled in Test matches, every one of them counts, whether they involve dismissals, boundaries, runs or ducks. The unpredictability of the sequence and pattern of events, landmarks and milestones that transpire in each Test, makes for interesting and compelling investigation.

The author believes that South Africa's expulsion from international sport for more than 20 years robbed many players of the chance to enjoy lengthy Test careers, with Graeme Pollock perhaps rated the most highly of those affected. He is also of the view that Barry Richards and Mike Procter were two other South Africans who could have become Test greats had the chance come their way.

Cricket, according to Liam Hauser, "has undergone many transformations since its inception - if that can be accurately traced - yet the Test match remains the ultimate battle in the sport. Whilst limited overs cricket matches are decided in the space of several hours on one day and coloured uniforms are prominent, ensuring entertainment value, the Test match has been the most challenging cricket battle for any player or country: hence the word 'test'.

As regards day-night Test cricket, Liam Hauser believes: "It took nearly 140 years for day-night Test cricket to be introduced, with a pink ball used instead of a traditional red ball. As the traditional form of cricket has always involved white uniforms, a red ball and playing in the daytime, the advent of day-night Test cricket has eliminated all but one of the ingredients that has characterised Test cricket. Time will tell if day-night Test cricket becomes a more common and accepted practice, and how the game will continue to evolve."

Whilst players from different eras cannot be compared, Sachin Tendulkar deserves to be considered one of the classiest batsmen of all-time, according to Liam Hauser. "Tendulkar was elegant, as he made scoring runs look effortless, and had the ability to caress the ball, time it or hit it hard in virtually any direction. The Indian public developed enormous, and perhaps unrealistic, expectations of Tendulkar, but rarely did he cause disappointment. When he failed, one simply had to remember that he was human and could not succeed every time."

Liam Hauser has remarked that whilst the calibre of the world's best fast bowlers seemed to decline when the West Indies went into decline, Dale Steyn was one exception. "With a rare ability to swing the ball in various ways at a high speed and to consistently be accurate, Steyn became a prominent wicket-taker and held the key to South African success along with the likes of Jacques Kallis. Steyn's ability to take wickets in all sorts of conditions ensured the Proteas won in every Test-playing country during his career."

A History of Test Cricket shows the breadth of cricket's enduring appeal and presents a record of the most cherished and larger-than-life characters. The book deserves to be bought, read and pondered.

All in all, a most stimulating book, which no lover of the game should be without. An indispensable companion at the game.