The period covered by this anothology, from the outbreak of the Second World War to the inroads made by the one-day game, may justifiably be defined as an adjunct to the golden ages - but it was a period which also saw the gradual but irreversible decline of the structure of first-class cricket. Wartime cricket in England possessed a kind of gallant gaiety which nobody who savoured it at the time will ever forget. Then came the 1945 Victory Tests series, and the first post-war seasons when the dazzling genius of Denis Compton created for a while the pleasurable illusion that everything was once again as it always had been. In fact, 1947 was the last sundrenched glimpse of the fat years; after Compton's record-breaking the crowds began to fall away, and interest in the routine stuff of the Championship to wither. There were, however, some extraordinary reprieves from disenchantment: Laker in 1956; Ramadhin and Valentine; the last great flowering of the Gentleman cricketer in Sheppard, May and Cowdrey; the captaincy of Benaud and Worrell; the staggering feats of Sobers, Tyson in Australia; and the consumation of the career of Hutton. This volume covers events from the sawnsong of Bradman to the high noon of Dexter, from the days when the only olympian tests were those between England and Australia, to a time when the run-of-the-mill domestic game was no longer a viable proposition. By the start of the 1960s the cry for perfection had become the anguished wail of an endangered species. There was greatness and comedy and eccentricity in abundance, but what had once been an all-conquering sporting army was now a beleaguered garrison.