Richie Benaud’s Blue Suede Shoes

David Kynaston, Harry Ricketts


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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
23 May 2024
ISBN: 9781526670298
320 pages

From the publisher

'This entertaining book is gripping reading for any cricket buff' Sunday Times
'An epic contest superbly retold . . . a fascinating slice of social history, it is a spellbinding read' Vic Marks
David Kynaston and Harry Ricketts relive the compelling story of a gripping Ashes-deciding Test match that heralded the dawn of an new era for English cricket.

The Ashes are on the line as England and Australia meet at Old Trafford in July 1961 for the fourth Test. For most of the match, England have their noses ahead – until a dramatic final day, of intensely fluctuating fortunes, as the tourists eventually storm to victory. In short, an Ashes classic, told here by David Kynaston and Harry Ricketts in vivid and immersive detail, recreating the sometimes agonising experience of millions of armchair viewers and listeners.

At the heart of Richie Benaud's Blue Suede Shoes are two strikingly contrasting personalities: England's captain, the Cambridge-educated, risk-averse, establishment-minded Peter May; and Australia's captain, the charismatic, risk-taking, open-minded Benaud – a contrast not only between two individuals, but between two cricketing and indeed national cultures. Whereas Benaud and Australia symbolised a new, meritocratic era, May and England seemed, in what was still an amateur-dominated game, to look back to an old imperial legacy out of sync with the dawning Sixties.

The sharply observed final chapters take the story up to the present day. They relate the 'after-lives' of the match's key participants, including Ted Dexter, Bill Lawry and Fred Trueman as well as May and Benaud; trace the continuing chequered relationship between English cricket and broader social change; and, after six more decades of fierce Ashes rivalry, wrestle with the perennial conundrum for all England supporters – why do the baggy green caps usually beat us?