RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
Thank You, Hermann Goering

Thank You, Hermann Goering - The Life of a Sports Writer
by Brian Scovell

Published by
Amberley Publishing,Alice Crick Amberley Publishing
The Hill, Merrywalks Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 4EP

Phone: 01453 847823 UK
E-mail: a.crick@amberley-books.com
website: www.amberleybooks.com

Cirencester Road, Chalford, Stroud
Gloucestershire GL6 8PE, England

Pages 285
Price Sterling Pounds Twenty only

During his tenure for the Daily Sketch and Daily Mail, Brian Scovell probably reported on more Test matches and more international football matches than any other English sports writer.

It was after becoming an inadvertent casualty after an accident late in 1943, indirectly caused by a German bombing raid, that Brian Scovell was gripped by an ambition to be a Fleet Street Sports Writer. As a child, he spent two years in hospital listening to match commentaries on the radio and reading the leading sports writer of the day, Tom Phillips. So, he has Goering to thank for the way his life turned out. His mother wanted him to be a banker, but in that hospital bed, Brian decided to go to Fleet Street. It was an ambition he realised fifteen years later.

Scovell says he has covered 300 or so Test matches and have witnessed almost 10,000 Test innings. "Which was the best? I watched a number of Brian Lara's greatest innings, particuarly in the West Indies when he took on the Australians almost single-handed, the 125 by Graeme Pollock at Trent Bridge in 1965, Viv Richards' epic 291 at The Oval in 1976, and some of the finest of the innings scored by Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, Gary Sobers, Javed Miandad, Colin Cowdrey, Gordon Greenidge, David Gower, Adam Gilchrist, and one of my favourites, Barry Richards. But the accolade goes to Ted Dexter's seventy out of 102 in eighty minutes at Lord's, in what was termed 'the greatest Test match of all' in 1963, which ended with a stupendous draw. Ian Wooldridge, the Bradman of sports writing, sat near me in the press box in the Warner Stand, and we agreed on this. Years later, he said to me, 'I never saw a better one'.

One of the book's central stories is Brian's love affair with his beautiful wife Audrey, an artist who died in 2000. She was his inspiration when alive and continues to inspire his writing. "The forty-nine days I spent in Italy for Italia '90, including the final nine days when Audrey joined me, was one of the best times of our lives and it was crowned by our meeting Pope John Paul II, probably the most popular and most loved of the 265 popes."

Scovell has paid a rich tribute to the West Indian fast bowlers of the previous generation, who may have been the best of their type, but they probably didn't win too many friends outside the Caribbean. "If I had to nominate a quartet who were quicker, better and more fearsome than any other, I would name Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, and Joel Garner, who took part in the World Cup in England in that year. Malcolm Denzil Marshall was in the West Indies squad and wasn't picked, but he took more Test wickets, 376 at 20.94, than any of them. He was, in my view, the greatest of his type, although he was an inch under six feet. He followed the Derek Shackleton tradition at Hampshire: he never bowled a bad ball.

I attended his funeral at St.Mary's Church, Southampton, and it was a desperately sad day. He died of cancer of the colon at the age of forty-one and was down to a third of his normal weight at the end. Garner and Croft were giants and made the ball roar alarmingly. Roberts and Holding, a shade quicker, were just over six feet. They shared a wonderful, rare gift: they could pitch the ball in such a way that the batsmen were never in control. They were."

Scovell is appreciative of Air India's generosity: "I've toured India four times, three as a player with various clubs, and this turned out to be the most sapping trip of all. When I arrived at Heathrow, I discovered I had left my passport at home, but Air India let me through without one. Their generosity continued when I landed in Bombay. I was whisked off to a VIP room and after the usual presentation of garlands and a soft drink. I was invited to join the coach for the early morning practice. They thought I was a player or an official. Micky Stewart, the England manager and an old friend, said, 'What are you doing here? You better get your bowling boots on.'

Brian Scovell was one of the Daily Mail's longest-serving and best-loved sportswriters. Thank You, Hermann Goering, his autobiography, is his twenty-fifth book. His books about Jim Laker and the England managers were nominated for the 2007 British Sports Awards and he has also written books about Dicki Bird, Brian Lara, Ken Barrington, Bobby Robson, Trevor Brooking and Bill Nicholson.

The contents of this immensely readable book make for an admirable story and it is so well written that one looks forward with pleasure to reading it again. Very reasonably priced, and pleasingly designed, this fascinating collection has been attractively presented by both compiler and publisher.