Book Review: Hobbys, A Life in Cricket, by Rob Kelly

"I knew very little of Robin Hobbs, however, this wonderful book paints a colourful picture of a player loved by many. Hobb's own words are perfectly interwoven within the pages of narration by Kelly, the result is a book full of interesting and humorous stories that make you wish you'd been around to see them first-hand"

I was a little apprehensive when I first started reading Hobbsy. I'm not old enough to have lived through the '60s and '70s and I don't support Essex. How much would I connect with the central figure?

I didn't need to worry. If you love cricket, you'll love Hobbsy. It's as simple as that.

Hobbsy covers the cricketing life of Robin Hobbs, former Essex, Glamorgan and England leg-spinner. From coming through at Essex, to travelling the world with MCC sides and England tours, to finishing with Suffolk in minor counties.

The book is pieced together perfectly by Rob Kelly, using Hobb's words throughout, as well as those of his former teammates and opponents. There's a lovely flow to the book and I wish more biographies were styled in this way.

Autobiographies and biographies can at times be quite dull. I've read my fair share of cricket ones and sometimes they can descend into pointless and laborious streams of stats upon stats. However, Rob Kelly avoids these pitfalls in weaving stats into the story rather than a story into the stats, and only when relevant and adding to the overall picture.

It's a wonderful collection of memories. Including Hobbs stumbling around in the early hours and waking a very annoyed Geoffrey Boycott, a surly character who comes across as a marvellous talent but a very selfish, surly individual, who often ignored autograph requests.

How an Essex vs Surrey game was postponed due to a slight drizzle...the day was the 30th June 1966, World Cup Final day. How Fred Titmus had his toes severed by the propeller of a motorboat in the Caribbean, which was being driven by the England captains wife, Penny Cowdrey.

How during a test in Pakistan, the game was abandoned after a hoard of 500 angry protestors burst through the gate and started setting fire to the VIP lounges and digging up the pitch. The England team took shelter in the dressing room and Alan Knott was stranded on 96, 4 runs short of a maiden century.

These stories are plentiful and you can't help but love Robin and cricket during this era. A far more relaxed era for professional sportsmen. You get introduced to some stars of the era like England's Boycott and D'Oliveira and Pakistans Javed Miandad among many others.

It wasn't always easy for Robin, he played at a time when leg-spin was under-valued and under-appreciated. Thankfully he was a gun-fielder before gun-fielders were really a thing. A true athlete in the covers who saved runs at such a rate, he was often included in one-day games without bowling or batting. Robin wasn't a huge spinner of the ball, but he had good control, good pace variations and wasn't afraid to be hit.

He ended his career with over 1000 first-class wickets. He was the 435th player to represent England making his debut in 1967. We won't see a leg-spinner have the kind of domestic career that Robin had in this country ever again, but boy was it fun reading about his incredible career.

Get your copy of Hobbsy from Amazon for just £12.80


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