Almanac Books: Gideon Haigh’s Stroke of Genius (and Gideon for dinner on Nov 23)
Gideon Haigh is our dinner guest at the North Fitzroy Arms on Nov 23. Come and enjoy another cracking night of Haighness.
When: 7 for 7.30pm, Nov 23
Where: North Fitzroy Arms Hotel, corner of Reid and Rae Streets, North Fitzroy
Books for sale. email@example.com
Read Catherine McGregor’s review from The Australian. (Nov 5)
Here’s the accompanying overview from Penguin:
‘Few cricket photographs can have adorned so (much) … In different contexts it has stood for aggression and vitality, evoked tradition and continuity, announced the coming of summers and stood for the passing of time…’
London, May 1905. As the crowd gathered at The Oval before the day’s play between Australia and Surrey, a group of figures occupied the pitch. Keen observers may’ve picked the tall, slim, broad-shouldered batsman as Victor Trumper, but none would’ve known the man in street attire, standing at point with his camera, as George Beldam.
Journalist Gideon Haigh has been entranced by the legend of Victor Trumper ever since he first came across George Beldam’s ‘Jumping Out’, that famous photograph of a cricketer dressed in turn-of-the-century whites and original baggy green skull-cap; bat flamboyantly raised, left foot hovering mid-air as he dances down the pitch, poised for a straight drive.
It’s an image many recognise but few can can place due to its reproduction on everything from cricket almanacs to postage stamps. It has inspired paintings, prints, plates and statues; been repurposed by editors, cartoonists, rock bands and breweries; and hangs in galleries, cricket pavilions and private collections.
But at the time this iconic shot was taken neither photographer nor cricketer knew the batsman had already played his best season – he had but a decade left to live. Nor did they appreciate how their collaboration would essentially invent action sports photography and change how the game of cricket was perceived.
In his new book, Stroke of Genius: Victor Trumper and the shot that changed cricket, Gideon Haigh examines how cricket’s quintessential image came into being; tracing the lives of two different men, both geniuses in their fields, to reveal how, in parallel pursuits to improve their techniques, each pioneered a new understanding of their craft.
Beyond being an anatomical study in movement and correct technique, Haigh explores how this one image says as much about playing cricket as it does about image-making; from the beginnings of modern action photography through a century of advertising, until Trumper has become a ubiquitous imprint on our collective visual memory.
Haigh’s superb study of Trumper’s place in cricket’s mythology and imagery not only redefines the genre of sporting biography but also presents the definitive iconography of Beldam’s world-renowned shot as ultimately illuminating the intersection of sport and art, history and timelessness, reality and myth.
Gideon Haigh has been a journalist for more than three decades, has contributed to more than a hundred newspapers and magazines, published thirty-one previous books and edited seven others. His The Office: A Hardworking History won the NSW Premier’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction; his On Warne was shortlisted for the Melbourne Prize for Literature. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and daughter.
Nobody has played more games for his cricket club, nor perhaps, wanted to. In 2015 Gideon delivered the inaugural Jack Marsh History Lecture which formed the genesis for his most recent book, Stroke of Genius: Victor Trumper and the Shot that Changed Cricket.