It's that time again. The time when true lovers of cricket have their annual fix satiated. It's been the same every year since 1864. Yes, it's the time the Wisden Cricketers' Almanac reaches the shelves. But how do you read it? Do you start at the front and go through page by page? Do you dip in randomly? Alternatively, like me, do you go straight to your own county side and digest every word? Whichever way you choose to begin, you'll know it will be money well spent.
There isn't much that can be said about the 2009 Almanac other than the one surprise. There may be the traditionalists whom find themselves spluttering in their gin and tonics when they see Claire Taylor nominated as one of the five Cricketers of the Year, but Wisden has long included women's Test Matches in the results sections and no one complained about that. This review won't really encourage anyone to go out and get a copy, unless you've suddenly discovered the game of cricket in the previous twelve months; what it might do is remind you that it's April so it's time to replace the perished rubber on the bat handle, change the spikes on your boots, empty your kit bag of the half eaten sandwiches and the disintegrated apple cores, and to bung your whites in the washing machine. This is not a book on which to take a chance; those who buy it know what delights will be contained within the cover and they will add it to their collection whatever anyone says about it. Therefore, I'm not going to bother.
However, I can see one or two problems arising for editor Scyld Berry in future volumes, especially next year's edition. With the amount of cricket now being played, space is at a premium and with the IPL in its second year, the ICC Trophy in South Africa and the next World Twenty20 Cup being held in England this June, where will it all fit? Either something will have to be dispensed with or there might be a case for a two-volume edition in future.