Lord Hawke: A Cricketing Biography
Lord Hawke was captain of Cambridge University, Yorkshire and England in a time when, as A.A. Thomson observed, ‘there were giants in the land’. His era is now lost to us, shrouded by the fog of war and by economic and social revolutions that would beggar the Victorian imagination.
That despite everything English cricket not only survives in its traditional form, but thrives, is in no small measure the enduring achievement of three men, three eminent Victorians who devoted the greater part of their lives to cricket, and who largely determined the form in which it has come down to later generations: W.G. Grace, Lord Harris, and Lord Hawke.
Tradition has it that W.G. Grace was the ultimate exponent of the game, that Lord Harris was its foremost administrator and that Lord Hawke was its great exporter.
Of Martin Bladen Hawke, seventh Baron Hawke of Towton, Sir Pelham ‘Plum’ Warner was to say ‘he was the Odysseus of cricket’ and that ‘he was the first to preach the gospel of cricket throughout the Empire’. Hawke was an indefatigable organiser and leader of tours to Australasia, North and South America, India and Ceylon, South Africa and the West Indies. But the exportation of cricket to the dominions was the beginning, rather than the end of his unique contribution to English cricket. The true object of his life’s work was the construction and consolidation of an indestructible cricket¬ing institution; the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
Hawke first captained Yorkshire in the Championship in 1883. Although he nominally retained the captaincy until he formally resigned in favour of E.J. Radcliffe in November 1910, he played his last county match at the end of the 1909 season.
The profit and loss account of the Yorkshire captaincy in the serious business of county cricket between 1883 and 1909 tells its own story. Yorkshire won the Championship eight times under Hawke’s stewardship.
He was also the man who sacked Bobby Peel, the greatest left-arm bowler of his era; and infamously declaimed ‘Pray God, no professional shall ever captain England…’ Sentiments which very nearly damned him forever.
A man of contradictions, strong convictions, more often than not his own worst enemy, this cricketing biography goes behind the myth of the man looking to paint a picture of one of cricket’s great men.
Love or loathe him, Martin Bladen Hawke’s life was singular.
Join the author on his voyage of discovery.
Please note: this is the Second Edition of a book first published in 1990.
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