Denis Compton was one of England's - indeed cricket's - greatest batsmen. In the summer of 1947 alone he scored 18 hundreds. But not only was he a flashing stroke player who could take any bowling attack apart: he was one of the last of a vanished breed of sportsmen, who played more than one sport at the highest level. For Compton was also a footballer who played on the left wing for Arsenal and won an FA Cup-winner's medal. And he was a dashing man as well as cricketer: his endorsement deal with Brylcreem made him "the Brylcreem boy", perhaps British sport' first true media figure, a glamorous icon always immaculately dressed. And he played hard outside the game of cricket - a man made in the same mould as his great friend and rival Keith Miller, who always liked a drink or several, had an eye for a pretty woman, and somehow managed to walk out to the middle at Lord's after a prodigious night's partying and score another feast of runs. Later he became a sports journalist for the "Express" and a BBC TV commentator, and when he died was mourned as the kind of cricketer whose like we shall never see again.
Tim Heald knew Compton, and, having talked to many of his contemporaries from Tom Graveney to Fred Trueman, is now able to write the definitive account of his rich and remarkable life.
Tim Heald is the author of a number of crime novels, as well as The Character of Cricket, Village Cricket and My Lord's. He is now working on the authorised biography of Princess Margaret. He lives in Cornwall.