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Wisden Cricketers' Almanac 2008

Release date: 07th April, 2008
Publisher: John Wisden & Co

List Price: 40.00
Our Price: 26.00
You Save: 14 (35%)
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Book review

Wisden Cricketers' Almanac 2008
Edited by Scyld Berry price: £26.00, saving £14.00 on rrp

Much of a contrasting nature has been written about cricket this week. On the one hand, commentators were delighted to report that England had finally got around to winning a Test match away from home, a cue for much flag-waving - and why not?

Meanwhile, the ICC was meeting in that renowned cricketing capital of Dubai to discuss most things, although cricket does not appear to have been amongst the topics they covered. And in India, the curtain was about to go up on cricket's own high-profile Premier League; if you think this weekend's football version of Super-Duper, Grand-Slam Sunday is a bit over the top, wait until you catch the razzmatazz of the IPL.

Celebrating England's win in New Zealand may have appeared a little parochial given that cricket's power base is shifting and money has already started pouring into the game; a major structural change is taking place which could put traditional elements of the sport under great jeopardy. Sadly, just as the game's tectonic plates rub against each other, it has become apparent that Wisden, cricket's greatest, longest-standing arbiter of facts, that quintessentially English publication, could conceivably be consigned to world cricket's long-on boundary - which is why cricket lovers everywhere should continue to buy it.

Wisden, the latest edition of which is published in early April, brings together the game's finest writers, its most amusing tales and enough statistics to satiate the cravings of an Angus Loughran XI.

It's the type of book you can indulge yourself in; where, as the rest of the world thrashes innumerable (and meaningless) coloured balls to the boundary, you can read of accomplished openers who could build an innings, of players who 'walked' without the need for a video referee and of bowlers whose sole intention was not to inflict harm upon their opponents. Reading Wisden is the equivalent of enjoying the immense pleasures of a sublimely wonderful book about French Impressionism while everyone else flicks through a cheap magazine dealing with the "artistic merits" of graffiti or an unmade bed and, worst of all, believes it. In cricket, the emperor's new clothes are multi-coloured cricketing pyjamas.

Apart from the action itself, two of cricket's greatest joys are its literature and constantly-changing collection of facts and figures, beloved by young boys of all ages. Buy an edition of Wisden and yes, you could update its records yourself by downloading details of Test matches and an array of commercially-inspired tournaments from the internet. However, there is something special about happening upon an unusual fact in print that you may have overlooked for years. Will W R Hammond's record of 78 catches in a domestic season ever be surpassed you find yourself wondering and then proceed to ponder over what an outstanding a record that actually is.

Quiet afternoons laden with little more than sunshine, a flat cricket square, two evenly-matched teams and possibly a warm beer may offer a vision of an England which, regrettably, no longer exists, but armed with your copy of Wisden, it's possible to believe it does, however fleetingly.

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