Author: Ric Sissons
Rating: 4.5 stars
By Archie Mac
20 Jan 2013
Sissons has boldly inserted the words "Charlie Turner, Australia's greatest bowler" under the heading of this book. A big statement especially as most pundits would never have heard of him. Still after reading the book it has a lot to recommend it. His average, strike rate and economy rate are equal to or better than any player to take over 100 Test wickets for Australia. Amazingly he claimed 101 wickets at 16.53 in 17 Tests, and remains the only bowler to claim 100 wickets in an Australian season (106 in 12 matches).
Although most will discount his claims to title of best bowler, as Turner played on uncovered pitches. It is surprising just how many of the wickets he bowled on were affected by rain and just how few Tests Australia won during his era.
I often write when reviewing a quality cricket book that it is impeccably researched, but The Terror takes this to another level. There does not seem to be one newspaper or book that Ric Sissons has not perused in his attempt to gather information on Charles Turner. It is therefore no surprise when the author writes he commenced research on the project in 1990.
Research is one thing, writing an entertaining story is another. Fortunately Sissons has woven an intimate tale of his subject's life. I had the impression Turner was a rather obtuse character, and although not fully convinced to the contrary, I certainly consider him to have been a more humble man after reading his biography.
Turner always looks smug and never seems to smile in photos, although not smiling was not uncommon for photos taken in the Victorian era. In fact his smug appearance belies a rather unfulfilled life. After a promising start to his career in the banking industry he fell on hard times and required two unfortunately unsuccessful testimonials. This, combined with the early death of his first wife and later the loss of his second wife, made his life a rather melancholy affair. He was to be married a third time to a much younger woman, who after his death married the Turner's long time lodger. The saddest fate was after his funeral Turner's ashes remained unclaimed for many years.
Another great thing about reading a book that covers cricket in the Victorian era is the almost unbelievable practices that were permitted. For instance on one occasion Turner played a first class match and a Test match on the same day after authorities delayed the start of the latter, so the game between NSW and Victoria could be completed. During another Test in 1894-95 Turner fielded as a substitute for England. Fortunately no chances came his way.
, is beautifully produced on quality paper and features some rare illustrations, some in colour. The only minor criticism are some annoying typos. With only 500 copies available this is a must for all serious cricket fans. It will be interesting to know how many, after reading this impressive biography, will agree with Ric Sissons and consider "The Terror" as Australia's greatest ever bowler.
Copies of the book can be purchased from www.cricketbooks.com.au and in the UK via Boundary Books and JW McKenzie.