A man for all seasons
David Rayvern Allen pays tribute to Irving Rosenwater
Irving Rosenwater was one of cricket's luminaries. A former assistant editor of The Cricketer magazine, founder editor of The Cricket Society Journal, a contributor to Wisden, particularly embracing the Records section, and a television scorer-statistician
for BBC and Channel 9, Australia, these activities were but the heel of his footprint on the games' many off-field pitches. He also enjoyed (in his own listing) "a wide and varied career as writer, essayist, collector, editor, bibliographer, researcher, reviewer, obituarist, spectator, crossword-compiler, publisher's reader, indexer, speaker (and minor player)".
It was to be with his definitive 1978 tome, Sir Donald Bradman - The Biography, that he scaled a peak never reached again. Deservedly winning The Cricket Society Literary Award, he seemed to have dissected every minute of The Don's life.
Rosenwater had started to write articles for The Cricketer in 1955 (early on he encountered a degree of anti-semitism by being told to adopt a nom de plume, because he would never get anywhere with the name Rosenwater), before in time becoming manager
and then joint assistant editor with John Reason and then in 1967, assistant editor. Rosenwater always was single-minded and apt to be vociferous and with the imperious Jim Swanton as editorial director, clashes were inevitable. By October, after a dispute over some obscure point of principle, Rosenwater had moved on.
His mania for veracity and accuracy with content and copy was legendary. Every comma and colon had to be in place. Correspondence was replied to instantly by first-class post. Woe betide the sender of a missive by second-class post - they were likely to receive a vituperative response - Irving knew to the second the delivery time of each piece of mail. Versification being
a family trait (his mother wrote only one poem, that on World War II, which was published: his sister has composed frequent verse), he often wrote personal letters to friends in verse. And when writing, even at home, he would never not be wearing a collar and tie.
The game of cricket with its literary and academic offshoots owes him far more than can ever be assessed and yet one cannot help feeling that he never found exactly the right niche for his talent. One easily could have imagined Rosenwater gracing a university chair of cricketing scholarship pontificating to a surrounding group of adoring students. Sadly, it was not to be.