Sep 14 2012 By Graham Spence
Jackers: A Life in Cricket By Robin Jackman with Colin Bryden
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Sir Ian Botham’s first impression of Robin Jackman was not good. As a member of a Surrey team considered “an arrogant bunch” according to Beefy, his theatrical appealing to umpires made him “particularly irritating.”
Thankfully, Sir Ian’s opinion has mellowed over the years, especially after the pair visited the West Indies (and Jackman was controversially deported from Guyana) as part of England’s 1980/81 tour. Today, Botham considers Jackman a close friend and reading this excellent biography, one suspects there have been a few glasses raised over the past 30 years which have cemented their friendship.
Robin Jackman initially dreamt of becoming an actor like his well-known thespian uncle, Patrick Cargill, until the avuncular Cargill dissuaded him, whereupon young Jackman (he was 11 at the time) announced that he would instead play for Surrey and England.
And so it proved. Jackman was a determined character who required only a modicum of fine-tuning to develop into an outstanding cricketer. He is, he says, “the product of three essential elements: what boarding school taught me, what my parents taught me and what cricket taught me.”
His early career, which was to account for expulsion from Guyana, was spent in South Africa and his wonderful descriptions of cricket there are mixed with a steady supply of amusing, thoughtful and occasionally reflective anecdotes, so adding a steady pace to the narrative. From cooking beef curry in the bath to using alternative words for Maltesers, which ensure you never date the girl again, this is a tale which never drags.
Jackman is, of course, better known here for his ultra-professional performances for Surrey and, rather belatedly, for England, but this is no chronological re-write of matches played and wickets taken; the man appears to have genuinely enjoyed the game and everything associated with it.
As Botham points out, Robin Jackman had the misfortune to be around at a time when England had a supply of excellent bowlers. Perhaps his South African links played a role in his absence from England squads, for when he was called up to tour the West Indies it was nearly cancelled.
We may be approaching the finale to the domestic cricket campaign, but A Life in Cricket is an ideal accompaniment for those who wish to extend the season a little longer.
We’ve teamed up with Sports Book of the Month & have two signed copies of A Life in Cricket to give away.
To win this week’s sports book, go to their website (www.sportsbookofthemonth.com) and answer the following question:
In which year did Surrey last win the County Championship?