The story of Bob Appleyard is one of the most extraordinary in the history of English cricket.
He did not make his debut for Yorkshire till he was 26 years old, immediately altering his bowling style to meet the challenge of county cricket. He took 200 wickets in his first full season, the only bowler ever to have achieved this feat.
The following spring he was diagnosed as suffering from advanced tuberculosis, as a result of which he spent eleven months in hospital. He had the upper half of his left lung removed and had to learn to walk again.
He missed two whole summers. Yet he returned so successfully that he was in the England team by the second Test and spent the winter in Australia, a key member of Len Hutton’s Ashes-winning side.
Further injuries brought his career to a premature end. Nevertheless his final figures, both for Yorkshire and for England, place him alongside the best bowlers in the history of the game.
He went on to a successful business career which included a major battle with Robert Maxwell, and in recent years he has fought without flinching for his vision of Yorkshire cricket and its future. His share of the proceeds of this book will go to the Sir Leonard Hutton Foundation Appeal, to promote playing opportunities for youngsters throughout Yorkshire.
He has overcome repeated adversity in his life, and he has done so by remaining positive in his thinking. Yet such strong will-power has made him at times an awkward character for team-mates or fellow committee members to deal with.
Publishers wanted his story in 1955, yet only now – at the age of 79 – has he decided to tell it. It is a story of triumph over adversity, of faith over fear, of an indomitable Yorkshire spirit.
It is a remarkable story, one that has not lost its power by being left so long.