Stroke of Genius
- Cricket Book of the Year – Shortlisted
It is arguably the most famous photograph in the history of cricket. In George Beldam’s picture, Victor Trumper is caught in mid stroke, the personification of cricketing grace, skill and power, about to hit the ball long and hard. Yet this image, ‘Jumping Out’, is important not only because of who it depicts, but also what it illustrates about the changing nature of the game and how it has been seen. Now, in Gideon Haigh’s brilliant new book, Stroke of Genius, we learn not only about the man in the picture but also the iconography of Trumper’s powerful position in cricket’s mythology.
For many, Australian batsman Trumper was the greatest ever. Neville Cardus wrote: ‘I have never yet met a cricketer who, having seen and played with Victor Trumper, did not describe him without doubt or hesitation as the most accomplished of all batsmen of his acquaintance.’ Like Lionel Messi or Roger Federer today, he defied the obvious bounds of affiliation. Unlike the current generation of sporting stars, however, there were no memoirs or papers, very few interviews, no action footage – even his date of birth is a matter of debate and conjecture. What isn’t in doubt, though, is the impact he had on the game and on his nation.
Haigh reveals how Trumper, and ‘Jumping Out’, helped to change cricket from the Victorian era of static imagery to something much more dynamic, modern and compelling. As such, Trumper helped not only transform cricket but even the way his country viewed itself.