RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
The Test of the Century
The Test of the Century - The Story behind 1977's Centenary Test
Barry Nicholls - Foreword by Rick McCosker

Published by New Holland Publishers

Web: www.newhollandpublishers.com

Pages: 254

Price: £ 14.99

Available from all good bookshops or call 01206-255777

The Centenary Test of 1977, contested between Australia and England in March, to commemorate the match that is considered to be the very first Test match played between the old foes in March 1877. Both the 1877 and 1977 Tests were played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and remarkably both the matches were won by Australia by exactly the same margin - 45 runs.

The Centenary Test was full of drama and heroics: Rick McCosker's broken jaw; Rod Marsh's unbeaten century - 110 off 173 balls and Derek Randall being recalled when he was given out on 161. Umpire Brooks gave him out, caught at the wicket. Marsh immediately conveyed that he had not completed the catch before dropping the ball and finally, Players from both teams are interviewed and the match placed in its historical context with a description of the tumultuous behind-the-scenes manoeuvres by both the Australian and England cricket Boards to stave off Kerry Packer's rebel competition World Series Cricket.

This outstanding publication, The Test of the Century, has twenty-four interesting chapters. In the second chapter, the author says, the name of Richie Benaud is perhaps Australia's most famous cricketing name in postwar cricket. As Gideon Haigh wrote: "Few cricketers have matured so gradually yet ripened so fruitfully as Richie Benaud. With little to show for his first six years in Test cricket, he blossomed as a fully-fledged all-rounder in South Africa in 1957-58, then flowered as a charismatic captain at home against England in 1958-59. He repossessed the Ashes, which his teams then successfully defended twice".

Rick McCosker, in his foreword, has remarked: "Anglo-Australian Test matches are the pinnacle, the dream of any budding Australian cricketer. Just to be there at the MCG during that week in March 1997 was, in itself, exciting, but more than that, an honour to represent our country, particularly in front of so many of the greats who had gone before us. Many cricket books have been written, purchased and read by countless thousands of cricket enthusiasts. I suggest that this one will be of interest to anyone interested in sporting history and that it will most likely create a great deal of discussion, not only about the Centenary Test but about the ensuing changes to world cricket. Enjoy the read."

The Centenary Test means many things to many people, according to the author, Barry Nicholls. It was a celebration of Test Cricket; a game played over five gruelling days that used every last and physical and emotional resource of the players, played until the final hour of the final session. One hundred years of these encounters between the traditional rivals, Australia and England, was to be marked by one Test match in March 1977.

Attractively laid out, logically organised and lucidly written, the book is recommended for reading. Barry Nicholls and the publishers are to be congratulated on their enterprise. All who browse through this book will be impressed by the wide range of reading displayed by the editor. A quality product indeed.