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The first comprehensive biography of the biggest run scorer that cricket has ever known

The astonishing feats of Sir Jack Hobbs continue to resonate more than a century after he first played Test cricket. During his long career that stretched from the age of W.G. Grace to the era of Don Bradman, he scored more first-class runs and centuries than any player. Even today, he remains England’s greatest run-maker in Ashes Tests. He changed the art of batting with his elegant style, and transformed the status of professional cricketers through the strength of his quiet, dignified personality.

Despite his significance in the game, there has never been a comprehensive biography of Hobbs.Now Leo McKinstry, the acclaimed author of a best-selling life of Geoff Boycott, has remedied that.

Based on a wealth of new material, including interviews with the Hobbs family, the book provides fresh insights into every aspect of his story, from his poverty-stricken upbringing in Cambridge to his central role in some of Test cricket’s most explosive series. It is a tale full of controversy, such as the previously unknown row over his actions in the First World War, when he was accused of “scandalous behaviour” by the cricket establishment. Other dramatic episodes include a bitter dispute over the England captaincy in the 1920s, as well as and two occasions when he came close to death. With its colourful detail, historical context and readable style, this ground-breaking book is an important addition to sports literature.


'Thoroughly illuminating and difficult to put down'

The Times on Boycs

'A near masterpiece of biographical investigation'

Daily Mail on Sir Alf

'One of the best football books ever written'

New Statesman on Jack and Bobby

An utterly absorbing book

The Times on Spitfire

As well as being meticulously researched, it is beautifully written and has tremendous pace'

Literary Review on Rosebery

Impressively researched

Mike Atherton, The Times

Leo McKinstry has written an intelligent, straightforward account of Hobbs, both as man and as cricketer

Robert Cheshire, Literary Review

This learned and wide-ranging book skilfully recreates a vanished world and resuscitates the reputation of one who might well be England's greatest cricketer

Marcus Berkman, Daily Mail

McKinstry captures the spirit of this thoroughly decent man, and also the spirit of the age where he dominated

Michael Henderson, Spectator

It makes for excellent social history... McKinstry does an excellent job, recounting Hobb's exploits with impressive thoroughness

Simon Wilde, Sunday Times

Magnificent... A tender and intriguing picture of the man

Michael Simkins, Mail on Sunday

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    May 15, 2012

    Yellow Jersey

    432 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    June 15, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    432 pages

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