The thermonuclear madness might not have reached as far south as Australasia, but in the weeks and months after the Cuban Missiles War many more people might have succumbed to the ‘On the Beach’ syndrome had it not been for the distraction of a unique sporting odyssey.
It happened that on the day the World went mad the England cricket team was in Perth, Western Australia on the opening leg of its campaign to win back The Ashes. Touring under the auspices of the Marylebone Cricket Club – the MCC – and playing international, or ‘test’ matches as ‘England’, the tourists under the captaincy of that most quintessentially dashing of batsmen, Edward Ralph ‘Ted’ Dexter, the eyes of the British and Australian sporting publics were not, on the day of World War III fixed on an island in the Caribbean of which few knew anything, and most cared less, but upon the forthcoming titanic struggle ‘down under’.
‘Cricket on the Beach’ is a cricket book; a history of the last MCC tour to Australia. The tour that began in one world and ended in another.