In his foreword, the legendary Australian opener Arthur Morris, says of his favourite ground, that “..it has everything a cricket ground ought to have. The dimensions are right; the light is ideal; the pitch makes for an interesting and entertaining contest; and the old stands, the Members’ Pavilion and the Ladies’ Pavilion, are a delight to the eye”..”The SCG is good underfoot” – less demanding than the harder MCG, he goes on to say.
Journalist Derriman is also obviously fond of the ground, this being his second book on the place. His first, The Grand Old Ground, also with a Morris foreword, is a history of the ground.
While the pictures are great, it’s the personalities, the crowds and the drama of those 100 Test matches that fill out this book with their wonder. The greatest players of all time from around the world have played here at various times from the beginning of the first Test at 12.30pm on Friday 17 February, 1882 to Day 4 of the 100th Test, Australia v India, on 6th January 2012, where Michael Clarke scored an historic 329* and led Australia to a win by an innings and 68 runs. That’s 100 Tests in 131 years (fewer Tests in the early years and a 10 year break – 1936 – 1946 because of WW2).
The book has been put together in an interesting manner, with its compact stories under 35 headings such as The First Century; The First Controversy; Lowest Total; The Shortest Century; The Biggest Crowd; The First West Indians; Bradman’s First 100; The Longest Innings, The Fastest Bowling; The Most Bitter Defeat; The Fastest Century, Top Teams, Top Tests.
As if that‘s not enough the fan is provided with 65 tables listing such things as the Results for Australia eg v. England from 54 Tests (Won 25; Lost 22; Drawn 7); v. South Africa from 11 Tests (W-8; L-1 ; D-2); v. all countries from 100 Tests (W-55; L-28; D-17).
Then there are tables showing Highest Individual Scores; Centuries; Century in Both Innings (only 2 – Walters and Ponting); Most Sixes in an Innings; Most Runs In A Day; Highest Partnerships; Best Bowling and Batting Averages, Attendances, etc and finishing with a summary of every one of the 100 games.
Derriman has done a masterly job in putting all the photographs and statistics together and bringing it into such a readable form.
It seems churlish even to try to find any weaknesses, even though they may be insignificant, but the picture captions are in small type and sometimes put against darkish backgrounds, which makes them hard to read. But few will be put off by that and they will be more than compensated by its other offerings.
Book Review by: Dick Honor