John Lazenby is a journalist and author who began his career on local newspapers in Sussex more than 25 years ago. He joined the Press Association in London in 1989, working as an editor on the news desk before transferring to sport. In his role as a rugby and cricket writer, he travelled the UK and Europe, filing copy for morning and evening newspapers throughout the country. Since 1997, he has worked as a freelance journalist on national newspapers, including the Times, the Sunday Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Independent. In addition to his career as a print journalist, he has worked as a freelance sports broadcaster for radio and television.
John’s first book, Test of Time: Travels in Search of a Cricketing Legend was inspired by his grandfather, the Kent and England cricketer, J.R. Mason. John traced his footsteps on England’s 1897-98 tour of Australia, his interest sparked by the discovery of a cache of letters his grandfather had written home. Described by BBC Sport as “a great read” and by the Sydney Morning Herald as a “delightful and unusual book”, Test of Time was well received in both the UK and Australia. It was selected as a finalist for the MCC/Cricket Society’s Book of the Year award in 2005, longlisted for the William Hill Prize and chosen as one of The Wisden Cricketer’s Books of the Year for 2005.
Bloomsbury published his new book The Strangers Who Came Home on the first Australian tour of England in 2015.
For more information visit www.themediaanimal.co.uk
LATEST BOOK: THE STRANGERS WHO CAME HOME - The First Australian Cricket Tour of England
The Ashes cricket series, played out between England and Australia, is the oldest - and undoubtedly the most keenly-contested - rivalry in international sport. And yet the majority of the first representative Australian cricket team to tour England in 1878 in fact regarded themselves as Englishmen.
In May of that year the SS City of Berlin docked at Liverpool, and the Australians stepped onto English ground to begin the inaugural first-class cricket tour of England by a representative overseas team. As they made their way south towards Lord's to play MCC in the second match of the tour, the intrepid tourists - or 'the strangers' as they were referred to in the press - encountered arrogance and ignorance, cheating umpires and miserable weather. But by defeating a powerful MCC side which included W.G. Grace himself in a single afternoon's play, they turned English cricket on its head. The Lord's crowd, having begun by openly laughing at the tourists, were soon wildly celebrating a victory that has been described as 'arguably the most momentous six hours in cricket history' and claiming the Australians as their own.
The Strangers Who Came Home is a compelling social history which brings that momentous summer to life, telling the story of these extraordinary men who travelled thousands of miles, risking life and limb, playing 43 matches in England (as well as several in Philadelphia, America, on their return journey) during a demanding but ultimately triumphant homecoming. It reveals how their glorious achievements on the field of play threw open the doors to international sports touring, and how these men from the colonies provided the stimulus for Australian nationhood through their sporting success and brought unprecedented vitality to international cricket.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Strangers Who Came Home, Bloomsbury, 2015; Test of Time: Travels in Search of a Cricketing Legend, John Murray, 2005. Tom and Huckleberry, Samuel French, 1991.