Richie Benaud’s Blue Suede Shoes: The Story of an Ashes Classic (Hardback)
  • Richie Benaud’s Blue Suede Shoes: The Story of an Ashes Classic (Hardback)
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Richie Benaud’s Blue Suede Shoes: The Story of an Ashes Classic (Hardback)

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Hardback 320 Pages
Published: 23/05/2024
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Waterstones Says

A triumphant social history-cum-sports biography, Kynaston and Ricketts' absorbing volume examines the Ashes of July 1961 through the contrasting characters of the England and Australia cricket teams.

'An epic contest superbly retold . . . a fascinating slice of social history, it is a spellbinding read' Vic Marks 'A scrupulous and subtle evocation of one's of cricket's forgotten classics' Gideon HaighDavid Kynaston and Harry Ricketts relive the compelling story of a gripping Ashes-deciding Test match that heralded the dawn of an new era for English cricket.

The Ashes are on the line as England and Australia meet at Old Trafford in July 1961 for the fourth Test. For most of the match, England have their noses ahead – until a dramatic final day, of intensely fluctuating fortunes, as the tourists eventually storm to victory. In short, an Ashes classic, told here by David Kynaston and Harry Ricketts in vivid and immersive detail, recreating the sometimes agonising experience of millions of armchair viewers and listeners.

At the heart of Richie Benaud’s Blue Suede Shoes are two strikingly contrasting personalities: England’s captain, the Cambridge-educated, risk-averse, establishment-minded Peter May; and Australia’s captain, the charismatic, risk-taking, open-minded Benaud – a contrast not only between two individuals, but between two cricketing and indeed national cultures. Whereas Benaud and Australia symbolised a new, meritocratic era, May and England seemed, in what was still an amateur-dominated game, to look back to an old imperial legacy out of sync with the dawning Sixties.

The sharply observed final chapters take the story up to the present day. They relate the ‘after-lives’ of the match’s key participants, including Ted Dexter, Bill Lawry and Fred Trueman as well as May and Benaud; trace the continuing chequered relationship between English cricket and broader social change; and, after six more decades of fierce Ashes rivalry, wrestle with the perennial conundrum for all England supporters – why do the baggy green caps usually beat us?

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781526670298
Number of pages: 320
Dimensions: 234 x 153 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

The Old Trafford Ashes Test of 1961 has everything - except a reverse lap, an epic contest superbly retold by David Kynaston and Harry Ricketts. In their expert hands, the match also becomes a trigger for a fascinating slice of social history, epitomised by the contrasting outlooks of the two captains, Peter May and Richie Benaud in his blue suede shoes. It is a spellbinding read even though most of us know the outcome of the match and an essential text for those of us who wonder why the Aussies beat us so often - Vic Marks

A scrupulous and subtle evocation of one's of cricket's forgotten classics: the Ashes of 1961 - Gideon Haigh

It will fascinate the keenest cricket followers, taking us back with shrewd insight to a famous Ashes Test match, but it is simultaneously an account of the social issues of the time, which are illuminated in numerous, often subtle ways throughout - Mike Brearley

This wonderful book recreates a famous Ashes Test played more than sixty years ago, making it as vivid and enjoyable to the reader as if they were watching it enacted live on television. The research is extraordinarily rich, the prose utterly exquisite. The central characters in the story, whether Australian or English, players, commentators or administrators, are sketched with deftness and authority. And the narrative of the cricket itself is both deeply informative and hugely enjoyable. Richie Benaud’s Blue Suede Shoes is destined to become a classic of sporting literature - Ramachandra Guha, author of A CORNER OF A FOREIGN FIELD

A highly enjoyable account with helpful historical context of one of the great Ashes test matches. The authors' evocation of the summer of 1961 paint the picture exactly as this superannuated 12-year-old remembers it as he sat on the grass behind the boundary rope, absorbed in the pendulum swings of the cricketing drama being played out in front of him - Colin Shindler, author of MANCHESTER UNITED RUINED MY LIFE

Rekindled fantastic memories of a historic afternoon at Old Trafford…the detail offered by the authors revealed plenty of stories forgotten or maybe unknown to me. A comprehensive and interesting read - Graham McKenzie, Australia’s opening bowler in the 1961 Old Trafford Test

David Kynaston is amazing: instead of sleeping between each magnum opus, he turns out a splendid jeu d’esprit. He and Ricketts have masterfully re-created the long-ago rivalry of the conformist Englishman and the inventive Aussie, and guess who wins? - Matthew Engel, writer and former editor of WISDEN

Compelling . . . The authors elegantly capture the tensions of that final day, dexterously putting the game and its players in a historical context and drawing rich profiles of the individuals involved - Steve Cannane, Financial Times

Patient and scholarly storytelling, alert to nuance and eager for detail, captures something of the hypnotic, accumulating rhythm of the full five-day game in all its pregnancy - Jasper Rees, Telegraph

This entertaining new book . . . [is] eminently readable. Each day’s play is meticulously described, session by session, and is gripping reading for any cricket buff - Roger Alton, Sunday Times

David Kynaston and Harry Ricketts’s beautifully written book is a minor classic - Peter Oborne, Literary Review

I recommend Richie Benaud’s Blue Suede Shoes . . . there are so many contemporary echoes. David Kynaston and Harry Ricketts lay bare English cricket’s public school elitism, juxtaposing the stiff home captain Peter May with the charismatic Benaud - Ian Herbert, Daily Mail

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