Rating: 3.5 stars
By Archie Mac
01 Mar 2008
I heard on the grapevine that Australian Wisden was being discontinued after eight years; I fired an email off to the publishers Hardie Grant Books reading:
"say it ain't so, Joe!"
They replied with "yes it is true, but we have many other quality publications that we are sure you would enjoy"
And they do publish some other worthy cricket books, including one that every cricket fan should read Any Old Eleven
by Jim Young (Stuart do you read my efforts?, we could do with a review mate)
But I digress that is not the point, I want MY Australia Wisden; I have read every page of all eight editions (I have too! Ask the missus), I loved being able to look up the latest Shield and Test results involving Australians, and just about everything else concerning the game in Australia, from books to obituaries to Australians in county cricket, to pieces especially written for the Australia Wisdens.
I thought the books were really settling into an entertaining format, with the necessary facts and stats, mixed with reviews from some of Australia's best writers, plus the occasional opinion piece.
Some of it could be hard going including the full Laws of cricket and even extracts from the playing conditions for each season. My strategy was to read 100 pages of Wisden and then to read three other books in between (sometimes four if they were short). Reading the laws so regularly has come in handy when an argument has broken out on the field of play during my regular Saturday matches.
So what went wrong? The reply did not go into specifics, but you can only imagine that they simply did not sell enough copies. They certainly tinkered with the format over the years constantly changing the Editor (four in eight years), the cover design- going from a green cover with Trumper on the front to four colour covers in the last two years- and from originally covering just one year (first two editions) to covering an Australian cricket season. They even managed to include the 2005 Ashes series in the last edition.
I am not sure what more they could have done, by all reports it was published on a shoe string budget. It had any number of quality writers, but it just seems that even though cricket is the national sport in Australia it is destined not to have a truly annual review publication.
From Boyles Australian Cricketers' Guide
in the 1880s to ABC Australian Cricket Almanack
in the 1990s and all those in between that have all failed, thanks for the effort.
So as big brother Wisden goes from strength to strength, little brother Australian Wisden is no more, and I am sorry to say, more than likely to stay that way.
Australian Wisden Editors
1998-2001 (3 editions) Gideon Haigh
2001-2004 (3 editions) Warwick Franks
2004-2005 (1 edition) Christian Ryan
2005-2006 (1 edition) Greg Baum