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"Howzat? The Six Sixes Ball Mystery" by Grahame Lloyd

The 6 sixes ball

Book Details:
  • ISBN: 978-0954596156
  • Publication date: 23 Sept. 2013
  • Page count: 232
  • Imprint: Celluloid

 

Review by Ben " Chalky " White

Chalky and Matt Watson attended a talk by Grahame Lloyd (sports writer and broadcaster) during the Frome Festival in 2018. This then lead to the purchase of this fascinating book.

Many can remember that Sir Garry Sobers, playing for Nottinghamshire in Swansea in a County Championship match, hit Glamorgan bowler Malcolm Nash for six sixes in an over in 1968 – the first time it had ever happened. However, not many realise that there has been  a 50 year old scandal surrounding the ball!

Sporting memorabilia is big business and in 2006, the ball used during the record breaking over, was sold at Christie’s in London for £26,400. Or was it? Well a ball was indeed sold, but was it the correct ball? Apparently there was only one ball used during the over – the final delivery of the over was hit out of the ground and collected by a young spectator. Garry Sobers is believed to have received this ball back and then signed it. However, the ball sold was the wrong make! Glamorgan only used Surridge balls (all the players and officials at the club said so), so how did a Duke ball sell for such a vast sum!

Grahame Lloyd undertook 2 years of research speaking with Sobers, his agent, Nash, other players, Christies, the wining buyer and he even tracked down the young spectator! A number of their recollections didn’t match but did Lloyd unravel the mystery? Read to find out! The book does go round and round a few times and is a little wordy in places, however it is fascinating story and well worth it!

ben white head 7 Chalk Marks

 

Synopsis

When Garry Sobers hit Malcolm Nash for an historic six sixes off one over at Swansea in 1968, cricket’s Everest was finally conquered.

It was a record that would never be broken; equalled three times since but never beaten because, in cricket, it’s just not cricket; it’s simply not possible: you can’t get better than six of the best.

History was made again 38 years later when the ball supposedly smashed around St Helen’s by the then Nottinghamshire and West Indian captain was sold for a world record £26,400 at Christie’s in London…except that, as Grahame Lloyd suggested in his book, Six of the Best: Cricket’s Most Famous Over, it couldn’t possibly have been the right one because it was the wrong make. The actual ball was manufactured by Stuart Surridge and BBC TV footage confirms Nash's assertion that he bowled a single ball to Sobers – not three as claimed by Christie’s. 

The Duke ball then disappeared for nearly six years before turning up at another auction at Bonhams in Chester in the summer of 2012. After persuading the auctioneers to withdraw the ball from a sporting memorabilia sale, Lloyd immediately launched Operation Howzat? – a one-man quest for the truth about a key component of one of sport’s most iconic moments.

In Howzat? The Six Sixes Ball Mystery, Lloyd traces the ball’s journey from England to India via Nottingham, London, New Delhi, Faridabad, Chester and back to Faridabad. Along the way, he uncovers startling new evidence which sheds fresh light on the ball’s vexing verification and its subsequent controversial sale. 

During his 18-month investigation, Lloyd encounters a cast of colourful characters – including an art impresario and a solar energy expert in India, a London antiquarian book dealer and a cricket legend in the West Indies - as well as two shy and retiring former Christie’s specialists. 

As the dramatic tale surrounding the disputed Duke ball heads towards its denouement, how will the world’s leading auction house respond to Lloyd’s attempt to unravel the riddle? Howzat? The umpire’s index finger is starting to twitch…

About The Author

Grahame Lloyd was born in Pembroke and went to school in Lincolnshire before joining the Western Mail in Cardiff as a trainee journalist in 1972. After passing the NCTJ proficiency test, he gained an English & Politics degree at Sheffield University in 1978 and became a news producer with the BBC in Cardiff.

From 1981, he worked as a freelance in BBC Wales’s news, current affairs & sports departments. He reported regularly for TV & radio news programmes, made radio documentaries and presented programmes for the World Service - as well as a weekly programme, Business Week Wales, for BBC Radio Wales.

Through his company, Celluloid, he has made TV documentaries for BBC Wales & S4C on Hugh Morris, English cricket’s current managing director, Ieuan Evans, the ex-Welsh rugby captain and Cardiff City’s 1999 centenary.

Grahame has commentated on football for BBC and commercial TV and radio stations and now works for the BBC, Sky Sports Football Yearbook and TalkSPORT - as well as writing match-day programme articles and books.

He is the author of Daffodil Days: Glamorgan’s Glorious Summer, (Gomer), the celebration of the county’s 1997 championship win, Jan the Man: From Anfield to Vetch Field (Gollancz), Jan Molby’s life story, C’Mon City!, (Seren), Cardiff City’s official centenary book, One Cap Wonders (Robson), about footballers who played once for their country, One Hell of a Season: Imps, Pilgrims and Tales of the Unexpected (Celluloid) covering Lincoln City & Boston United in the historic 2002-03 season, Hard Man, Hard Knocks (Celluloid), the life story of ex-Wales manager Terry Yorath, Six of the Best: Cricket’s Most Famous Over (Celluloid), a 40th anniversary celebration of Garry Sobers’ historic six sixes off six balls and its sequel, Howzat? The Six Sixes Ball Mystery (Celluloid), his quest for the truth about the Duke cricket ball reputed to have been bowled in the over by Glamorgan's Malcolm Nash.

Grahame runs media training courses and presents conferences for a variety of public and private organisations, including local councils and charities, and also performs a one-man show, Funny Old Game, about the language of football.

Availability

The book is available in a hardback version from Waterstones. Click here to go to Waterstones website. It is also available in Kindle version at Amazon. Click here.

Remember if you buy from either of the online shops via easyfundraising.org.uk you can earn the club a donation. Waterstones currently give a 2% donation for every book bought and Amazon give a 1.5% donation. For details on easyfundraising please click on the logo below.

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