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Words of Wisden
on 27 April 2014
The most interesting thing about Wisden is the editorial. Yes, the match reports are always worth reading and poring over scorecards is never a wasted moment (especially those involving your own team), and perusing the records section can make for some interesting discoveries - not that this part of the almanack changes that often. But it's the sometimes in-depth essays that make this money well spent and this year is no different. Then again, would it matter what the content was, as Wisden isn't like any other book; it has a specific audience who buy it every year anyway.
What may come as a surprise to many is the inclusion of Charlotte Edwards as one of the `five cricketers of the year', only the second time a woman has been awarded this accolade (Claire Taylor was the first). After the winter fiasco and T20 World Cup capitulation from the men, maybe there should be more given this award. (And the girls always play with a smile, something sadly lacking in the male game.) The colour photos include Sarah Taylor's scarcely believable catch against Australia, and Virat Kohli getting his face disfigured by the ball. All well worth seeing. Staying with the women, there's also a piece on the five greatest women cricketers of all time.
The thinly veiled attack on the ECB and Cricket Australia for acquiescing to the demands of the BCCI is well warranted. They should have told them to get stuffed and let them get on with it, as the other seven test playing nations may well say to the so called `Big Three'. Whatever anyone may argue, no one will benefit, especially us, the spectators, but when did we ever matter to anyone in sport?
The 151st volume of Wisden has a more serious feel about it than previous issues simply due to the Pietersen affair, the Ashes calamity, the meekly compliant ECB and CA, the IPL match fixing, and the opening page from the editor that makes you wonder how long cricket will actually last - it was full steam ahead for the two division test league until the 'Big Three' insisted they could never be relegated. But it's not all despondency; like most who buy this, the first port of call is usually the section devoted to your own team, and it's that part and the list of unusual occurrences, the usual section of minor cricketing stories from local papers, and a piece on DRS that brighten the gloom (unless you're a Kent supporter). In recognition of 150 years of Wisden and 450 years of William Shakespeare, the winner of this year's writing competition has come up with something a bit different: 'The Shakespeare XI'.
The obituaries section is always sad and this year's edition includes Nelson Mandela, and actors Peter O'Toole and Bill Pertwee (the air raid warden in Dad's Army). With the BCCI now pulling the strings, how long will it be before Rajasthan Royals versus Kings XI Punjab is the pinnacle of cricket matches? Maybe then the obituary pages will consist of the game itself. Now, if only the editor could see fit to include a pull-out Duckworth Lewis table.
I end with yet another plea to the publisher: next year, please publish this before the start of the domestic season. How difficult is it to bring the date forward by a week?
NOTE: For some reason, at the time of writing, this is listed twice on Amazon in hardback with two prices. Not just a minor variation but a £25 difference!