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Wisden Cricketers’ Almanac Edited by Lawrence Booth

Release date: 12th April, 2015
Publisher: Wisden

List Price: Ł50.00
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The inaugural Wisden was published in 1864 so it would, perhaps, be a tad unfair had it been voted sports book of the year every twelve months in the intervening century-and-a-half, but it’s possible, once again, to make a convincing case for the 2015 version to lift sporting literature’s equivalent of an Oscar later this year.

“If you don’t like small print and cricket, then the Almanac is not for you,” wrote one reviewer last year, yet while the book’s tiny font size is easily circumnavigated courtesy of a pair of specs, it might be a little more informative to suggest that if you enjoy reading accomplished writers on cricket, then Wisden deserves a place on your bookcase, for the traditions of Cardus and Arlott are maintained in the latest edition.

The Almanac has always revelled in the opportunity to refer to obscure cricketing facts and incidents from the preceding twelve months . Here, it reminds us of a match in Delhi when seven runs were scored off a single ball, though not one of them were off the bat, after the umpire signalled a wide on a ball bowled by Lasith Malinga. The wicketkeeper then parried the ball (notching up a bye) onto a stationary helmet, which resulted in Malinga’s team, the Mumbai Indians, suffering a further, five-run penalty.

Cricketers are rightly portrayed as a humorous bunch and Wisden’s list of the unusual, together with its chronicle of the year, are always extremely funny.

For instance, much was made of the cricketing contest between the Vatican and Canterbury’s finest – the Anglicans prevailed over the Catholics by a narrow margin – prompting Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to declare the victory “one of the greatest ecumenical moments of our generation.” Who said he was dour?

Editor Lawrence Booth deserves credit for introducing a section on women’s cricket and highlighting the declining number of cricket’s participants, a worrying trend, he maintains, caused by the game being transmitted almost exclusively on subscription television while being subject to poor management.

No-one will plough through 1,584 pages in one sitting, but if you’re after a sports book you can dip into all year, there is none better than Wisden Cricketers’ Almanac.


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