Reviews ReviewsRSS FeedFeeds
The Wisden Cricketer
 

Gubby Under Pressure: Letters From Australia, New Zealand and Hollywood

Letters from an autocrat

An expertly compiled collection of Allen's letters home from the Ashes tour of 1936-37 does nothing to enhance his reputation

Stephen Fay

April 6, 2008

Text size: A | A

Gubby Under Pressure: Letters From Australia, New Zealand and Hollywood by Brian Rendell
(ACS Publications, 106pp, £12.00)



The letters 'have lasted rather longer than Allen's reputation' © The Cricketer International
Enlarge
 

Gubby Allen, the autocrat of the Lord's Long Room, was known as "Gubby" because his initials were GOB. His family knew him as "Obie"; that is how he signed letters to his mother and father written when he was England captain during the Ashes tour of 1936-37.

That series was won by Australia after they had lost the first two Tests, and it is probably best known for Allen's response when Walter Robins dropped Don Bradman: "It has probably cost us the rubber, but don't give it a thought," he said. If the catch had been dropped in the third Test, Allen's cruel jibe might have been true, but Brian Rendell tells us that the exchange took place in the second Test, which means it had no decisive bearing on the outcome of the series.

But the remark is authentic Allen. Rendell's slim and revealing volume shows Allen as a master of self-pity, quick to complain about having to make too many speeches and not being free to attend parties given by his Australian relations and their posh friends. He was a control freak who insisted that he chose and ran the team and then moaned when they lost. "I think we were a rotten side," he concluded. He seems to have been happiest when he left the team behind and partied with film actors in Hollywood at the end of the tour.

Rendell tells the story of a fascinating and frustrating tour plainly and well, letting details from the letters bolster the narrative. This leads to some duplication but the full text of the letters does Allen's posthumous standing no good. He describes the aboriginals at station stops on the Nullarbor Plain: "They really are a ghastly sight and the sooner they die out the better." They have lasted rather longer than Allen's reputation.

This article was first published in the April 2008 issue of the Wisden Cricketer. Subscribe here

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Related Links
Players/Officials: Sir Gubby Allen
Series/Tournaments: England tour of Australia
Teams: England

    In Larwood country

Diary: Our correspondent makes his way from Trent Bridge to Nuncargate to find out more about one of England's most fearsome fast bowlers. By Sidharth Monga

    Pitching it up

How a medical charity convinced the MCC and the Swedes to help spread the message of cricket among kids in Afghanistan

    'I'd run to watch if Gower was playing'

Part six: Martin Crowe on David Gower's footwork and the steely determination beneath his elegance

    A tale of two SSC Tests

In 1993 and 2006, South Africa's bowlers had vastly different results in Colombo. Brett Schultz and Makhaya Ntini look back

The value of a cricketer's brand

Michael Jeh: Andrew Strauss will recover from the indiscreet remark about Kevin Pietersen, but his image won't be entirely as it was

News | Features Last 7 days

Defensive captains' extended test

The duration of the Test series will allow Alastair Cook and MS Dhoni to reassess the strategies, or provide enough time to get thoroughly exposed

India look for their Indian summer

Billboards are calling the series England's Indian Summer, but it is India who are looking for that period of warmth, redemption after the last whitewash, for they have seen how bleak the winter that can follow is

India's bowling leader conundrum

The present Indian bowling line-up will tackle its first five-Test series without the proven guidance of Zaheer Khan, their bowling captain. India had unravelled without him in 2011. Will they do better this time around?

Bevan's best, and a combined Indo-Pak team

A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches

Five key head-to-heads

From two embattled captains to the challenge for India's openers against the new ball, ESPNcricinfo picks five contests that could determine the series

News | Features Last 7 days

    Defensive captains' extended test (118)

    The duration of the Test series will allow Alastair Cook and MS Dhoni to reassess the strategies, or provide enough time to get thoroughly exposed

    India look for their Indian summer (87)

    Billboards are calling the series England's Indian Summer, but it is India who are looking for that period of warmth, redemption after the last whitewash, for they have seen how bleak the winter that can follow is

    India's bowling leader conundrum (44)

    The present Indian bowling line-up will tackle its first five-Test series without the proven guidance of Zaheer Khan, their bowling captain. India had unravelled without him in 2011. Will they do better this time around?

    What spinners should know about bowling in England (35)

    Bide your time, put your body behind each delivery, and play with the batsman's mind

    Five key head-to-heads (33)

    From two embattled captains to the challenge for India's openers against the new ball, ESPNcricinfo picks five contests that could determine the series