Barbed Wire and Cucumber Sandwiches is the story of the controversial 1970 South African tour by Colin Shindler, author, in 2015, of a very fine biography of Aussie-favourite Bob Barber.
Published exactly 50 years after the momentous summer, which saw a tour cancelled and five Tests contested between England and a Rest of the World XI – whose numbers incidentally included Australia’s No.1 pace bowler Graham McKenzie – Shindler’s impressive research is fascinating, evocative and sad.
At the height of the furore and Peter Hain’s Stop The Seventy Tour campaign, famed broadcaster John Arlott (pictured) took a stand and refused to broadcast any of the South African fixtures. He’d been to South Africa in 1948-49 and seen at first hand the introduction of Apartheid. He hated it.
The Queen had attended the Lord’s Test for 18 consecutive years but chose not to this time, palace authorities saying why expose Her Majesty to a display of bad manners outside or even inside the ground?
When asked why the touring team had not been invited to the Palace for tea and cucumber sandwiches, a spokesman said there was no point as the Queen hadn’t been invited to attend the match, so why issue a reciprocal arrangement?
In his short foreword, Sir Michael Parkinson says Shindler’s work reaches far beyond the boundaries of the game and the consequences profoundly affecting the way people regarded multi-racial sport.
‘Cricket helped change things for the better,’ he says.