"A great read. It took me right back to my growing up years, working alongside and playing cricket and rugby against Des, so real. It then took me on a tour to some of the countries I played in and showed me that while us players are out in the middle we are only a part of the action as other stories are unfolding all around the game."  

Allan Lamb


"It's fair to say that when I was asked to review this book, the autobiography of a man who has spent his life watching top-level sport as opposed to playing it, I approached it with a feeling of hope rather than expectation. So imagine my surprise when I found not a dull, lifeless read about the exploits of a previously unknown tour leader, but a thoroughly charming and amusing account of a life defined by its association with sport.

Newton epitomises the typical schoolboy-sporting fanatic. Jack of all trades, master of none may be a tad harsh on a man who played both cricket and rugby at a high level, but he definitely qualifies as someone who came oh so close to the promised land of becoming a professional sportsman without ever quite making it.

So if you can't join those elite ranks, what do you do? In Newton's case, he decided to make a life for himself supporting his heroes, and somehow the jammy sod achieved just that. From Brian Lara's 400 not out to Jonny Wilkinson's last-gasp drop goal during the 2003 World Cup, the South African-born Newton has seen it all.

However, this is not just a glorified account of the boy's own life and exploits. His greatest achievement is the way he manages to evoke the unique atmosphere of the various places he has visited, from the laidback paradise that is the Caribbean, to the physical beauty and social tragedy of apartheid South Africa. Furthermore, using specific match action as a backdrop, he also captures key moments of events and the crowd's thoughts, feeling and tribulations. My memories of the final day in Cardiff last summer came flooding back as I read about the witty banter and painful tension that engulfed the terraces during those final overs.

This may not have anything like the historical significance of other books, but it offers an interesting alternative to the usual cricketing literature. If you are looking for a book to enhance your cricketing knowledge, this may not be the title for you. However, if you are looking for a book to relax with that offers the odd good yarn and with a hint if sport thrown in, then look no further." MS

All Out Cricket, Issue 65, March 2010



"Brothers and dads can be tough to find birthday and Christmas presents for - so Sporting Travels of a Karoo Son, a new book by Des Newton and Alicia Hellier, could be your get out of jail card.

It tells the story of Newton, an international tour leader who has led overseas trips following cricket and rugby to Australia, the West Indies and South Africa among other countries, including the Ashes and the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

There are some hilarious stories from these trips but, as well as descriptions of the action on and off the field, he gives a feel for the people and the countries.

Newton was a talented sportsman in his own right, playing cricket and rugby to a high level, and the early chapters are devoted to his sporting education and the experience of playing sport during the apartheid era.

Combining sport, travel and autobiography, there is much to enjoy in Sporting Travels of a Karoo Son - even if you're not a paid-up member of the Barmy Army."

From 'The Outswinger' The Daily Mirror's Cricket Blog by Ann Gripper


What a cracking read! If you have been on any of England's recent tours to South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand or the Caribbean then you may be able to spot yourself in the stories told by Des in this brilliant diary of a professional sports tourist. This is a fantastic amalgamation of all the magic moments of recent cricket tours combined with his background in Africa and an insight into the world of Sports Tourism. It is an ideal tour guide for the upcoming trip to South Africa, if only for Des's fantastic knowledge of quality drinking establishments.

Katy Cooke, Barmy Army


"What a good read!......What a fabulous time for us all. I still haven't got over being the perpetual bronze medallist behind you and Mario Benigni in all those full-pitch shuttle runs -scarred for life!"

Richard Greenwood, former England rugby union captain and coach.


"Interesting, well written and certainly worth of publication. I hope it has progressed."

Christopher Martin-Jenkins


"My little cottage is filled with laughter and tears of joys and nostalgia....your writings are genius and your humour is in a class of it's own. May your book be promoted in every way and may it be a best seller."

Phyllis Collett


"How well you write - not only do you paint the picture, you bring it to life. With every turn of the page there is something to entertain and delight."

Nicola Cade


"I have to salute you as a wordsmith of the highest order! My brother-in-law and I are prolific readers and we are always swapping books and discussing what we have just read. We both agree that your prose is really evocative - amazing that it is your first book! I sincerely hope that this book gets the wide readership it deserves."

Margaret Milne


"Des captures brilliantly the essence of an ITC sports tour; sport is the reason for travelling but the experience is made by the people you meet, the places you visit and the things that you see along the way."

Helen Tabois


"It's so real, it's freaky."

Dallas Newton


"Congratulations, the book is brilliant. As a farmer's son, who left home aged eight in 1950, I gleefully read of your early years. I had to buy a second copy as my first was pinched by a Lincolnshire farmer's wife, also brought up on a farm in the Karoo.

The non cricketing tourism stories have convinced us we had better return to Southern Africa. Best wishes Des, you never fail to crop up when we come across another oxymoron."

David and Barbara Atkinson 


"Congratulations on a wonderful book. As you mentioned in your inscription inside my book, you hoped that considering we had “travelled together on the cricket field”….that I would “enjoy the journey inside your book”.  Well I most certainly did!!

It is a very intriguing collection of stories…. besides your recollections of the various in/outbound tours where you took me “right into the stadiums and hotel rooms/bars and busses [West Indian]”, you most certainly reminded me of the many characters to be found at Ollies – Rocket (whose products I used to sell when working as a student at Sportsman’s’ Warehouse selling his Cressi-Sub diving gear), Kees “deep pockets” Verburg, Basil Bey, Tammy, the various print and television journo’s, the McCullums, Richard Nurse (I actually bought the house next door to his ex wife in Cleveland Rd and lived there for about 5 yrs before moving to JHB))….etc……trust me – I intend to remain a member for many many years to come !

Thanks for the journey. Looking forward to the next book !


Andrew Strachan


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