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I Don't Like Cricket. I Love it!
on 14 April 2011
First seeing the light of day in 1864, whereas other products and publications have attempted to`re-invent' themselves, some with disastrous consequences, Wisden Cricketers' Almanac has never found the need to bring itself into the 21st Century. It is what it is, and everyone knows what to expect within its pages; this 148th incarnation of possibly the most eagerly awaited book each year, carries on that tradition. This isn't a book to `um' and `ah' over; you're getting it or you're not. There is no in between.
Strangely, considering the amount of cricket now being played around the world, this year's edition has 80 pages fewer than 2010 but there are some welcome changes to the format this year. Edited by Scyld Berry for the final time, the sections for Records and Births and Deaths of players has been moved to the back of the book and the Obituaries, Cricket Books, Cricket in the Media, etc. are now at the front. I think it's a good idea, as cricketing records don't change that often but there will always be different publications to highlight and the unfortunate passing of people to mention. Another change is each county now has an extra page devoted to their limited over's averages for the past season and current records for List A and Twenty20 matches.
Ah yes, matches. The editor mentions this in his notes at the beginning of the book. Kent, as an example, is scheduled to play a minimum of 46 games this season (most will play at least 44), which could rise to a maximum of 51. Scyld Berry bemoans the increase of Twenty20 matches and the corresponding reduction in attendances in 2010, something that will continue in 2011 due to shortsightedness and greed. It appears the ECB has not only killed the Golden Goose but also incinerated the carcass.
The editorial is its usual gold standard with 15 pages devoted to the Pakistan match fixing scandal, which is why there are only four `Cricketers of the Year' in this edition. The colour photographs never disappoint and, with an increase of 50% to 24, there are some corkers this year, especially one of a match being played on a beach in Fife, Scotland, that is just about to be hit by a downpour, and a nice one of a lad left holding the handle of his bat as the business end flies off into the distance.
Not only is Wisden now on the shelves (although the information on the product page is incorrect; there aren't 1712 pages but 1648), Kent won their opening game of the season and sit second in the fledgling table at the time of this review.