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The Unforgiven

Missionaries or Mercenaries? The Untold Story of the Rebel West Indian Cricketers Who Toured...

Ashley Gray



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Pitch Publishing Ltd
20 April 2020
• The Times Sports Book of the Year
• The Guardian Sports Book of the Year
• Shortlisted - William Hill Sports Book of the Year

In the early 80s, 20 black West Indian cricketers were paid more than $100,000 each to take part in rebel tours of apartheid South Africa. Some, such as Lawrence Rowe and Alvin Kallicharran, were household names in the Caribbean and around the world, while others were fringe players seeking a short cut out of poverty. All would be condemned by the international cricketing fraternity.

Accused of pocketing 'blood money' in order to prop up a regime that systematically discriminated against people of their own colour, they were banned for life from playing the sport they loved. In many cases, they were shunned by their fellow countrymen. A few turned to drugs and gangs, some turned to God - and others found themselves begging on the streets and dealing with mental illness.

Forgotten and neglected for close to four decades, The Unforgiven tells their often-tragic stories through face-to-face interviews that explore the human cost of an onerous decision made early in these young men's lives.
By:   Ashley Gray
Imprint:   Pitch Publishing Ltd
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 160mm, 
ISBN:   9781785315329
ISBN 10:   1785315323
Pages:   256
Publication Date:   20 April 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Ashley Gray grew up fending off bouncers and sledges in Newcastle, New South Wales, before moving to Sydney where he works as a sports writer and subeditor. His stories have appeared in Wisden Quarterly, Fox Sports, The Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and All Out Cricket. He plays hard-fought backyard cricket with his young son and daughter, who are already showing a rare talent for destroying laundry windows.

Reviews for The Unforgiven: Missionaries or Mercenaries? The Untold Story of the Rebel West Indian Cricketers Who Toured Apartheid South Africa

It was a hopelessly naive comment but, rather than simply condemn, Gray's skill is not just in unearthing these former cricketers - including Rowe, living out his years in Florida - but in allowing each to relive their fateful choice to go to South Africa... Gray paints a compelling portrait of each of them in a moving and thought-provoking read. Matt Dickinson, Sunday Times Sports Books of the Year; Ashley Gray's thoroughly engaging dissection of the tours examines the moral complexity of the matter and the long-term effects on the rebels. Steven Carroll, The Age; One can feel nothing but admiration for the tenacity of Gray's pursuit... The Unforgiven is richly sewn with tragedy... It is a truism to say history is written by the victors... The Unforgiven belatedly gives the losers their say. Gideon Haigh; Possibly the biggest surprise of Ashley Gray's painstaking, sometimes harrowing, awkward and amusing, investigation of those tours is that it is highly nuanced. In The Unforgiven: Mercenaries or Missionaries?, Gray digs beneath the obvious motivation of money to discover that for many of the rebels, the tour was either their only hope of carving a career from cricket or their way of retaliating against the closed shop they perceived the West Indies side to be... We are left feeling the rebels were neither mercenaries nor missionaries, just lost souls. Alyson Rudd, The Times; Sometimes it helps to come at these things from an angle. There's an excellent new book about cricket and race called The Unforgiven by the Australian writer Ashley Gray. The Unforgiven tells the story of West Indian rebel tours to apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, focusing on the later lives of those players who took the Blood Rand. Barney Ronay, The Guardian; Gray, an Australian journalist, is unflinching in his portrayal of Murray and the other rebels... [he] is unsparing, if also deeply humane, in his account of the players' fates, those castigated by their communities as race traitors: Cashed up, but ground down, some coped with ostracism by deserting their homelands, others sought refuge in drugs and religion. The tyranny of inter-island distance ensured that there would be no genuine rebel brotherhood. They were on their own . --Alex Wade, The Times Literary Supplement; A powerful and necessary book... brings the rebels out from the demonised whole and gives air and dignity to what are for the most lives blighted and broken by the decision to take the money and go. Wisden Cricket Monthly; Gray tells the rebels' stories with insight and panache David Brearley, The Daily Telegraph; I finished The Unforgiven in one afternoon. It was compelling... one of the best cricket books I've read. Ken Piesse, Cricket Books (Australia); The Unforgiven is riveting. Sharda Ugra, Senior editor, ESPNcricinfo; The Unforgiven should be mandatory reading for anyone genuinely interested... in Caribbean cricket history. Fazeer Mohammed, Trinidad Express; The Unforgiven is a fascinating and engrossing book and Ashley Gray deserves great credit for bringing the story of these West Indian cricketers to our book shelves. Andrew Roberts Cricket Statistics; Gray, who travelled to the Caribbean several times for the book, has revealed a fresh voice and a talent to be rivalled among the best cricket writers in the world. Barry Nicholls, Australian Cricket Digest; Cricket is a game enhanced by great books and Ashley Gray's The Unforgiven is an excellent dive into one of the most intriguing stories in the sporting world. Robert Craddock, The Courier-Mail;

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