“Gus” Fraser is an honest cricketer. He will always give his best and bowl himself into the ground, if need be, for the sake of the team, whether Middlesex or England. His honesty extends to his writings, which is why the latest edition of his Tour Diaries, covering his six senior England tours from 1989 to the West Indies tour of 1997-98, is compulsory reading for any fan interested in the behind-the-scenes picture.

Sadly, what comes through most is a chronicle of disappointment, of hopes raised and dashed, with England teams playing themselves into potentially winning positions but failing to press home the advantage.

Take the West Indies tour of 1989-90. The England team, weakened by defectors to South Africa, almost pulled off what Gus rightly described as one of the great upsets of modern Test history, winning the first Test but then being undone by weather, injuries and finally a West Indies side hitting prime form.

The Australian tour of the following winter was a double blow, firstly with the old enemy retaining the ashes 3-0 and secondly for the hip problem that was to take Gus out of Test cricket for two years.

Along the way, he provides a view of some of the key figures in the Test side, including manager Ray Illingworth and the Yorkshireman’s row with the fast bowler Devon Malcolm in South Africa, as well as his personal view of the low-level flight by David Gower over the Adelaide Oval during the 1990-91 tour.

It is a genuine warts-and-all viewpoint, even if the stronger language is discreetly portrayed by asterisks. –Arnold Woods

Fraser’s Tour Diaries: The Real Story of Life on Tour with England




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