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Tom Richardson: A Bowler Pure and Simple

By Keith Booth

Tom Richardson’s life began in a gypsy caravan and was ended by his own hand. So runs the popular mythology on the man who was probably the greatest fast bowler of his own generation and possibly of any. The research of Keith and Jennifer Booth has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that neither myth is true and casts new light on the circumstances of his death.

Although there have been a number of profiles and copious mentions of Richardson in cricket literature and his statistical achievements have been well documented, there has not until now been a full-scale biography.

Most sources mention his early – and indeed life-long – association with Mitcham Cricket Club. None refers to his significant involvement, after his marriage, with Surrey’s other main ‘feeder’ club, Thames Ditton.

Additionally, not so well known is the number of Richardson’s – albeit indirect – descendants who have played first-class cricket and distinguished themselves in other sporting areas.

His diary of the 1897-98 tour of Australia records a number of otherwise unreported opinions and his will provides some insight into the ‘domestic trouble’ hinted at by the press at the end of his life.

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