MARK BROWNING REVIEWS PEP:
If there is a greater ‘lived life to the full’ Australian cricketer than Cecil Pepper, I have not heard of him… and I include the likes of Keith Miller and Shane Warne.
The story of Pep is one of the great Australian cricketing yarns and Ken Piesse has brought him to life in a biography that deserves widespread recognition.
Written in Ken’s easy-to-read, sharp and punchy style, Pep is a deeply researched labour of love. The author’s efforts are well worth it. Cec Pepper was a fascinating character who pushed life’s boundaries both on and off the cricket field.
Big and brusque of physique and temperament, Pepper a legend in his boyhood country NSW town of Parkes, lost crucial cricketing years through World War II.
Everyone who knew him at his various around-the-world bases speaks of his immense cricketing talent and self-confidence as a leg-spinning all-rounder.
His colourful playing career had many highlights in the Sheffield Shield, for the Australian Services XI in England, the Commonwealth XI in India and for two decades with five or six clubs in the pro leagues in Lancashire.
With a deadly pioneering flipper and the ability to hit straight sixes almost at will, Pepper’s earnings from cricket were unprecedented from the mid-‘40s and into the 50s.
But his achievements lack the ultimate stamp of approval brought about by a distinguished Test career. Legend has it that his non-Test selection was caused by Pep’s uncontrolled mouth making an enemy in Don Bradman in a match straight after WWII. As well as upsetting ‘the ‘Don’, Pepper was equally his own worst enemy.
This self-published limited edition is lavishly and beautifully illustrated with dozens of never-seen-before photographs. The hardback version (of 100) has simply stunning starting endpapers showing Pep walking out to bat with his bosom buddy Keith Miller in one of the 1945 Victory Tests.
A prolific author of more than 50 titles, Ken has written many fine cricket books. I have read almost all of them. I say without hesitation that ‘Pep’ is in his top five. — MB