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Grovel! By David Tossell

Release date: 19th June, 2012
Publisher: Pitch Publishing

List Price: 12.99
Our Price: 8.05
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The summer of '76 is remembered primarily for an intense heatwave which sat high above Britain for months. We enjoyed clear blue skies, relentless sunshine and enough vitamin D to last a lifetime; it was so parched that a sizeable proportion of the canal system dried up.

We even had a Minister for Rain (former Sports Minister Dennis Howell), remembered for encouraging people to share a bath together, as water shortages affected every corner of the land.

Greying sports fans will also recall that blazing hot summer for another reason - the birth of a cricketing phenomenon that would dominate the game for almost two decades: the West Indies.

If their openers, Gordon Greenidge and Roy Fredericks didn't hammer your bowling attack to smithereens, the next couple of guys walking to the crease, Viv Richards and Clive Lloyd, could demolish you on their own. Richards was to end the 1976 Test series with a batting average of 118. And, in the unlikely event that West Indies batting failed, there were four super-fast bowlers waiting to tear you apart.

Michael Holding (aka Whispering Death) had such a languid running style he appeared to be jogging in to bowl, but he would unleash the ball at such pace that only the very best batsmen would see it. After he wiped England out at the Oval in 1976, taking 14 wickets for 149 runs, wide-eyed schoolboys and older cricketing fans could only stand and applaud what they had witnessed.

Moreover, if Holding was having a rare off day, up stepped Wayne Daniel or the fiercesome Andy Roberts, each capable of bowling at incredible speeds.

On the eve of England's Test series against the West Indies, England's captain Tony Grieg, interviewed on live television, inadvertently made one of sport's biggest faux pas of all time when he said he intended to make the West Indies 'grovel'. It was, as Grieg has admitted ad nauseum, a silly remark, but there's little doubt it inspired the West Indies, not just during the 1976 series, but every time they played England for the following thirty years.

David Tossell has written a fantastic piece of work which examines one of the most memorable summers in British history and goes on to explore why West Indies cricket went into decline so rapidly from the start of the century. Part sport, part social history, it falls squarely into the 'must read' category.


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