Scarcely a day passes now without a sombre centenary of some kind, as one hundred years have passed since the terrible battles of the Great War were fought. A minor tangent on the history of the 1914-18 War is its impact on cricket, which was affected as every other aspect of everyday life was affected. About 10% of the Australian population served in the War, and of those about 10% were killed – very few families escaped the toll. A large number of prominent cricketers enlisted to fight, and some of these are the subject of a new book by former Manly player, Paul Stephenson. “A Cricket Club At War”, which was scheduled to be launched at Chatswood Oval during the lunch break in the First Grade match on Saturday 7 November, tells the story of the 52 Gordon cricketers who fought in the war. Stephenson has drawn on the players’ war service records, some personal diaries and information supplied by their families. The war service records, incidentally, comprise one of the most significant biographical archives in the country and provide a mine of intriguing material. Among the cricketers Stephenson considers is Johnny Taylor, who was only 19 when the War broke out, and played for University when he returned from his service in the AIF. Taylor went on to play 20 Tests between 1920 and 1926 (as well as playing Rugby Union for Australia) and his story alone should attract anyone with an interest in the history of University cricket. You can buy the book here.
This next one has very little to do with cricket. But its author, Adam Spencer, is a long-standing supporter of the Club, who has been awarded a Sydney University Gold for his service to University sport. Now that he no longer has to get up even before he goes to bed in order to present ABC breakfast radio, Adam has found time to produce another book, “The World of Numbers” – a combination of numerical trivia and mathematics that will both amuse and inform the general reader. You can get one for each of your uncles for Christmas (and one for yourself) here.