International Cricket 2014
Author: Steven Lynch
Rating: 3.5 stars
By Archie Mac
15 Dec 2013
This is the eighth release of this International players guide, and the production shows the benefit of previous editions with an easy to read and accessible format now established. While it is true that punters can access this information online - the player bios are directly copied from Cricinfo - there is nothing like having a hard copy book which you can just pick up anytime and flick through. I have already used my copy twice to look up two English players engaged or potentially considered a chance of engagement in the current Ashes series - Michael Carberry and Graham Onions.
A book such as this can easily degenerate into a cold, statistical tome, though those familiar with the pen bios of Cricinfo will know that they are anything but simple statements of facts, there being plenty of interesting titbits. For instance, George Bailey's great, great, great grandfather toured England with an Australian team. Keeping up the family links, Doug Bracewell's father and uncle both played Tests for New Zealand and Bracewell was named after Doug Walters. Shivnarine Chanderpaul shot a policeman he mistook for a mugger. Martin Guptill has only two toes on his left foot after an accident. James Pattinson's brother played a Test for England.
One thing that became apparent as I checked the player's stats, which by the way are very comprehensive and are updated to September 2013, was the lack of bowlers averaging under 25 in Test cricket. Back in the 1980s the best bowlers averaged under 25 while a run of the mill bowler would average in the late 20s or early 30s. It became apparent that there were only one or two bowlers with low averages, two from memory were Dale Steyn 22.65 & Ryan Harris 22.26. It is no wonder South Africa are the best Test team in the world, with Steyn's bowling and a number batsman average near or over fifty.
On the flip side I hardly found one Zimbabwe or Bangladesh player who had a batting average over 40, or a bowling average under 30, no wonder the other countries efforts against these two nations are often dismissed.
My biggest disappointment was paucity of knowledge in relation to the Pakistan players. Perhaps this deficiency is simply because of the lack of cricket between my country and Pakistan. I can hardly remember the last time they played a Test in Australia or the Aussies toured Pakistan, which is sad for cricket. They do seem to have a number of talented cricketers so hopefully a tour is in the pipeline.
Thankfully upcoming tours are also included in The Wisden International Cricket Guide which informs Australia will tour Pakistan in October 2014 for a three Test series.
The book, impressively also provides bios on the national teams coaches and the umpires on the international panel, though surprisingly there is no entry for Billy Bowden, who has been appointed to one of the upcoming Ashes Tests. This, I am impressed to write is the only oversight I noticed in the entire book.
This publication is a must have for all serious cricket fans.