The Cricketer 1878

Published: 2021
Pages: 27
Author: Cardwell, Ronald (editor)
Publisher: The Cricket Press Pty Ltd
Rating: 3.5 stars

I should say at the outset that this one is not a book as such, but because of the nature of the entire package it is certainly a publication that merits being noticed here on CricketWeb.

In the circumstances I will begin by summarising what the buyer of this splendid piece of memorabilia will get for his AUS$150. The new writing is a ten page booklet which represents a short biography of William Oswald Whitridge, one of the pioneers of the game in South Australia. Whitridge made a great contribution to South Australian cricket as an administrator, writer and publisher, and in addition to that was a more than useful performer on the field of play.

An early highlight of Adelaide cricket was a contest between 18 South Australians and what amounted to a full Australian Test side that took place on 26, 27 and 28 December 1878. With his writer and publisher hats on Whitridge was behind a four page newspaper, The Cricketer, which was published on each of the three days allocated to the match. It begun with a welcome to the visitors, followed by lengthy reports on the play amidst a good deal of advertising.

As there are only two sets of The Cricketer known to exist the publication itself is unprocurable, so there are facsimile copies of each issue, which account for another twelve of the page count. And finally, to make up the other five pages, there are five separate high quality reproductions of photographs of Whitridge. One is a posed shot of his bowling action, another of a family group, and three of cricketing groups. The entire ensemble comes in a high quality leather folder in an edition of just 30 sets.

Is it worth the investment? Almost certainly not for the casual cricket follower, but for those who are interested the facsimiles are a fascinating glimpse of a long gone age and Cardwell’s booklet is an interesting biographical and bibliographical journey through the life of a South Australian cricketing pioneer who, in March of 1892, was also one of the umpires in the second Test match to be played at the Adelaide Oval.

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