Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2018Archie Mac |
Author: Booth, Lawrence (Editor)
Rating: 4.5 stars
As a book collector I sometimes peruse an old edition of Wisden. Perhaps they are a product of their time but compared to the latest edition of the little tome they make for pretty dry readying, and can only be sampled a little at a time.
Compare this to the 2018 model, which is a sumptuous feast, with thought provoking articles penned by some of the best extant writers. Contributors include but are not limited to: Gideon Haigh, Greg Baum, Daniel Brettig, Matthew Engel, Warwick Franks, Malcolm Knox, Vic Marks, Mike Selvey, Rob Smyth and Simon Wilde.
What Wisden has always done is to address contemporary concerns in the game. Just as the throwing controversy raises its head every decade or so, the vexed question of too much cricket has always been discussed. Presently it seems to be under more pressure than ever as the juggernaut of 20/20 cricket threatens to become all consuming.
The problem of 20/20 and its threat to Test cricket is evenly dealt with in the Editor’s Notes, before the ‘for and against’ arguments are well presented in relation to yet another new 20/20 competition to be played in England. We Test cricket fans will feel a little melancholy as the room for the traditional format grows increasingly smaller.
The other real stride forward for Wisden in recent years is in its coverage of women’s cricket and the recognition of the skills of female players. Wisden is broken up into nine parts with part seven dedicated to the women’s game. Added to this three of the five Wisden cricketers of the year in 2018 – the longest running player award in the game – are female cricketers. There is still a long way to go and Tanya Aldred addresses some of the issues in her piece “Cricket and Sexism”. I imagine we will know we are closer to gender equality in the game when book reviewers no longer find it necessary to comment on the subject.
Another minority covered is the Aboriginal cricketer in Australia. “Scrubbing Away The Whitewash” by Geoff Lemon, is a great read, and a little hard to take as a white Australian. Certainly there is not too much to be proud of in cricket’s history when it comes to encouraging Aboriginals’ to take up the game.
While Wisden doesn’t shy away from the big issues it still finds time to address some lighter moments. Haigh writes about players’ mannerisms and as always, with his eye for detail, you will watch the latest stars with a new appreciation. My favourite story in Wisden for 2018, is “A Brief History of The Hat-trick” by Jon Hotten. Great research and well written, I learned a lot and will keep an eye out for anything else written by Mr Hotten in the future. Apart from the great articles there are also all your Wisden favourites including book reviews (my personal favourite section) and full coverage of the year’s cricket, especially that played in England.
While I will continue to collect all the old Wisdens and will give them a quick flick through, I will save my complete reading for the new ones, the quality simply demands it.