RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
Neil Harvey - The Last Invincible

Neil Harvey - The Last Invincible
by Ashley Mallett

Hardie Grant Books (Melbourne)
1, 658 Church Street, Richmond,
Victoria 3121 Australia

Web: www.hardiegrantbooks.com.au

ISBN: 978 1 74379 740 2

Pages: 280

Price: Australian dollars 39.99

The book delves not just into the history of Neil Harvey but also the nostalgia of boyhood, when Ashley Mallett first was bitten by the cricketing bug.

Neil Harvey: The Last Invincible is the first major biography of the Australian cricketer and last member of Donald Bradman's 1948 Invincibles.

With his 153 off 251 balls against India at Melbourne in February 1948, Neil Harvey, at 19 years 121 days, had become the youngest Australian batsman to post a hundred in Tests.

Neil Harvey had an excellent record against South Africa, aggregating 1625 at an average of 81.25, including eight hundreds and five fifties, in 23 innings (14 Tests). He remains the only batsman to have averaged 70-plus against South Africa in Tests (minimum 1000 runs) - the next best being Michael Clarke (67.59). Just one other batsman has recorded eight hundreds against South Africa - Ricky Ponting.

His series aggregate of 834 (ave 92.66), including four hundreds and three fifties, in nine innings in the 1952-53 series remains a record by any batsman against South Africa.

Alan Davidson, former Australian fast bowler, who died on October 30, 2021 at the age of 92 years and 138 days, in his Foreword, remarked, "Neil Harvey is Australia's greatest batsman after Don Bradman. I have played with and against many of the great players since World War II, and I rate Neil as the best batsman of my time and right up to the modern era. Neil Harvey was the complete cricketer. He was confident, never brash and he exuded a warmth and humility that made him a very popular and inspirational teammate.

Apart from his brilliant batting against the pace bowlers, whom he took on with nimble footwork, the traditional way, back and across, head over the ball, Neil was a sensational player of slow bowling. He had sparkling footwork and was often yards down the track to hit the ball either on the full or half volley."

In The Last Invincible, biographer and former Australian Test cricketer Ashley Mallett draws not only on Harvey's own recollections but also fascinating anecdotes from Australian and international cricketers, commentators and officials to bring to life his remarkable story. Bowlers rarely found a way of disrupting his concentration or curbing his attack.

Don Bradman, the game's greatest batsman, considered Neil Harvey "the best left-hander Victoria has had. He was very confident and of course he had every reason to be confident because he was a very good player. In addition, he was probably the best cover field we had - a magnificent thrower. Neil had all the shots - the drive, cut, pull, and hook. It was always a joy to watch him cut loose against the opposition on the Test stage."

Ray Illingworth, former England captain and an excellent all-rounder considered him a truly great player with a fantastic record and a seriously tough opponent, who played the game aggressively and hard, but always in the right spirit.

According to Bill Lawry, former Australian captain, Neil was the best all-round fieldsman he has seen in top cricket. He could field anywhere and had a magnificent arm. He consistently threw the stumps down from the extra cover area and few batsmen dared test his arm. Neil's throw was deadly accurate and fast. And when in slips he had sure, safe hands. He admired him as a batsman and a fieldsman.

Harvey has been inducted into the Australian and ICC Cricket Hall of Fame, named in the Australian Test Team of the 20th century and awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia. Now, for the first time, there is a full-length biography to capture the career and life behind this living legend.

Attractively laid-out and logically organised, the book is a superb production indeed. The feature of the book is its outstanding collection of photographs, taking it to another level of excellence.

We are thankful to Kirstie Armiger-Grant, Senior Publicist, Hardie Grant Books, Australia for sending a review copy of the book for our website.