Roger Mann, who died in November 2022 aged 80, was widely known for his superb collection of cricket photos, the first port of call for many ACS authors seeking illustrations for their books.
He also played an active role in the game. An all-rounder for Paignton, Roger founded the South Devon Youth Cricket Coaching Association in the 1980s and chaired the Devon Schools Cricket Association and the Devon Coaches Association. Among the many young players he coached were Test players Fanie de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph and Chris Read. He served on the committees of Torquay CC – where he set up the Torquay Cricket Festival – and Devon CCC, and wrote a regular column for the Torbay Weekly.
Stephen Musk, with whom Roger collaborated on Bart King of Philadelphia: The Father of Modern Swing Bowling, has written the following tribute.
Like many members of the ACS, I had a working relationship with Roger for several years. His putting together of the incomparable Roger Mann Collection was a colossal achievement which will surely never be matched. This enabled him to provide splendid images for writers in need, and he came up trumps with photographs which greatly enhanced the three books that I published in the Lives in Cricket series. He seemed to regard my requests for images of obscure cricketers as a personal – but enjoyable – challenge, and was infectiously gleeful when able to fulfil my needs.
I only really got to know him when I commenced my long-planned biography of Bart King. Realising that I was facing a serious dearth of photographs, I contacted Roger and offered him co-authorship if he would grace my narrative with some of his splendid images. He quickly agreed – and also kindly insisted on paying his share of the required financial outlay.
His photographs turned out to be vital, but he brought so much more to the book. Drawing on his many years as a coach and historian of the game, Roger was able to provide a wealth of technical knowledge about, and insight into, the art of swing bowling. He was also able to think effectively about more arcane matters, such as the placing of Bart King’s leg-trap and the positioning of the wicketkeepers.
He had a splendid writing style and was an excellent project manager, finding a suitable publisher and taking charge of all negotiations. In short he was a renaissance man. I only met Roger face-to-face twice, during the production of the book, but found him delightful company and was looking forward to another catch-up after its publication. Alas, it was not to be.
He was proud of our book but also of his recently published work The Meadow At Chapel Hill Cross, in which he imagines umpiring Torquay v All-England in 1853. It showcased in spades both his ability to write creatively and his immense historical knowledge. It is, perhaps, a shame that he didn’t write more books. He will be sadly missed.