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In The Eye of the Typhoon

Release date: 01st November, 2004
Publisher: Parrs Wood Press

List Price: £20.00
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In the Eye of the Typhoon
By Frank 'Typhoon' Tyson
Parrs Wood Press price: £14.00 (saving £6 on rrp)

Anyone who has ever enjoyed the immeasurable benefit of going on tour with a sporting team inevitably looks back at it a few years later through slightly jaundiced eyes. Touring is fun; a time when tourists get to enjoy laughter, usually more than a few beers and occasionally, some sporting success. Afterwards, stories, embellished with the passage of time, are recounted over and over with former teammates at tour reunion dinners or nowadays, via email.

Frank Tyson, who will be 75 this year, actually wrote his consummate tour diary years before the genre became popular, although this is the first time it has been published. The book is full of laughter - for example when Godfrey Evans dresses as a bookie for an ship-based race night and later as Carmen Miranda to win a fancy dress party. It is evident too that cricketers enjoy the odd beer and, just like every other sporting tour party, they manage the occasional romantic interlude.

More importantly perhaps, the tour about which Tyson writes enjoyed memorable success Down Under. Following a disastrous opening Test, when England lost by an innings and 154 runs, they won the next three, including the third Test where Tyson took 7-27.

Frank Tyson made his cricketing debut for Northamptonshire in 1952 and played 17 times for England before retiring from the first class game in 1960. At his peak, he was a fearsome bowler which guaranteed his selection on England's 1954 tour to Australia and New Zealand.

The descriptions of tour life 50 years ago frequently beggar belief, starting even before the team had departed. Here was the national side about to set sail on a four week ocean journey, but first each member of the party had to go to Piccadilly to be measured for his tour blazer. Most players were grateful to manufacturers for giving them a few 'goodies' such as boots and flannels before they bought their own dinner suit for the myriad of official functions that were to take place on board and in Australia.

Tyson's black and white photographs and the cartoons of Tom Webster and Hugh Morren heighten the sense of history. This was a time when there were no bowling, batting or fielding coaches, no director of communications, physiotherapists or sports psychologists. In the absence of television and other sponsorship, gate money was expected to fund the tour. This meant that the team rarely stayed at the best hotels while tour manager Geoffrey Howard wasn't given any money with which to pay expenses - he had to arrange an overdraft in his own name to pay for the tour's early costs prior to being reimbursed by the MCC!

How these tales could be embellished over time, but the professional sportsman knows that they pale against the impressive playing record. Aside from winning an Ashes series in Australia, Tyson also played a major role in the subsequent 2-0 defeat of New Zealand where the home side were bowled out for 26, the lowest score in Test history.

As the current successful England side prepare to move to a one day series in South Africa, several players will return home in a matter of hours, others will join what has become a merry-go-round of games designed to satisfy television's insatiable appetite. No doubt it's great to be part of a winning team, but one wonders whether today's players have as much fun as Tyson and co.

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