Wisden Cricketers Almanack 2013Archie Mac |
Author: Lawrence Booth (Editor)
Rating: 4.5 stars
The pressure was on, it’s always on when you reach a landmark. And they don’t come much bigger in the cricket book world than the 150th edition of “the bible”. The cricket world were expecting something special. After all in 1963 for the 100th edition they had included features such as “A History of Wisden”, Sir Neville Cardus selecting the six giants of the Wisden century (Grace, Hobbs, Trumper, S.F. Barnes, Bradman and perhaps surprisingly Tom Richardson) and most enduringly of all, the announcement of the Wisden trophy for Test series between England and the West Indies.
As impressive as the 100th issue celebrations were, those of the 150th have surpassed it, I imagine much to the relief of the editor and his staff. The most enjoyable part of the 150th special features is the intimacy of the writing. That intimacy is best captured by the current and extant previous editors expressing their enjoyment and pride in editing the little yellow book.
With Cardus having already chosen the six giants – I always wondered why six? – for the 150th they chose the five cricketers between 1864 and 1888, before the famous five cricketers of the year (they chose five bowlers in 1889) was commenced. They also choose the ten greatest moments in cricket which surprisingly does not feature Bradman. Still the most enjoyable part of the celebration is the publishing history of the little book, the story of which would seem almost interesting enough for a full length book.
Apart from the features to celebrate the 150th edition, there are some other fine editorial pieces contained in the 2013 Wisden, and in fact judged just on these features this is just about the best Wisden yet published. The description of a young fired up Jeff Thomson bowling to Sydney grade players written by Christian Ryan, brilliantly captures the trepidation which it must have been to face Thommo at his peak without a helmet. Although the “It’s Tough Being Kevin” by Patrick Collins, was another finely crafted piece of writing.
However my personal favourite part of Wisden is always the review section, with the books still at the top although “Cricketana” by David Rayvern Allen is fast matching it for interest. It should be added that the cricketana section does feature heavily the amounts cricket tragics will pay, in particular for old Wisdens.
All the favourites are there, including international match reports from around the world and the Obituaries, which this year includes Tony Greig. Each year the obituaries make me just a little bit more melancholy as so many lovers or players of the great game receive their tap on the should from Father Time, and more and more are younger than the Mac. Still there are some amusing and macabre offerings: Phillip Snow who managed to have a match he played for Fiji upgraded to first class status, mainly after extensive lobbying by himself. He also, in old age, sent two letters to Wisden with details of his biography to make sure he was included in the Obituaries section. David Wilcockson was another interesting one, he was struck on the head by a ball after a fierce drive off his bowling. He never woke from his coma but at least he was 71. Is that the ultimate way to go for a cricket tragic? I think not, reading a copy of Wisden is what I want to be doing when I receive the tap. Although there is another thing I would like to be doing when I leave this world but this is a family site so I shall remain silent.
So there it is, the 2013 Wisden featuring some of the very best cricket writers and covering the best most important cricket topics. The fact that it also includes articles for the 150th edition makes it a must have. I just pity the editor of the 200th edition, the bar has been set so high, but at least he or perhaps she has 50 years to prepare. If it is half as good as this one it will be a must read, let’s hope it’s still on paper.