Wisden Cricketers' Almanack


Wisden Cricketers' Almanack

"Wisden Cricketers' Almanack" (often referred to simply as "Wisden" or colloquially as "the of Cricket") is by far the best known reference book concerned with the sport of cricket, and is one of the most famous sports reference books published in the United Kingdom.

It was founded in 1864 by the English cricketer John Wisden (1826-1884) as a competitor to Fred Lillywhite's The Guide to Cricketers. Its annual publication has continued uninterrupted to the present day, making it the longest running sports annual in history. The sixth edition was the first published under its current title; the first five were published as "The Cricketer's Almanack", with the apostrophe before the "s".

It has had only 15 editors in over 140 years, including Sydney Pardon for 35 editions (1891 to 1925), and Norman Preston for 29 editions (1952 to 1980). Matthew Engel edited 12 editions. Scyld Berry edited the 2008 edition while Engel took a sabbatical.

Practically all the great cricket writers have written for Wisden. Neville Cardus contributed many notable essays and for many years John Arlott was responsible for the book reviews.

Wisden is a small-paged but very thick book (over 1,500 pages in modern editions) with a distinctive bright yellow cover that it has carried since the 75th edition in 1938 – in previous years, covers varied between yellow, buff and salmon pink. The 75th edition was the first to display the famous woodcut of two Victorian cricketers, by Eric Ravilious, on its cover. It is published each year in April, just before the start of the English domestic cricket season. The woodcut has been replaced by a photograph of a current cricketer in recent editions, starting with Michael Vaughan in 2003.

Collecting old Wisdens is a popular activity among cricket followers, and early editions command high prices. The first edition, only 112 pages long, sold for one shilling, but copies in good condition can sell for over £20,000. The editions published during the two World Wars are also very rare, as a result of wartime paper restrictions. In recent times, facsimiles of many of the early editions have been published.

Since 2006, a larger format edition has been published on an experimental basis. This is said to be in response to requests from readers who find the print size of the standard edition hard to read. It is around twice the traditional size and was published in a limited edition of 5,000. It is not a large print book as such, as the print will still be of a size found in many standard books.

"Wisden" was acquired and published by Robert Maxwell's publishing conglomerate, Macdonald, in the 1970s. Sir Paul Getty bought the company, John Wisden & Co, in 1993. The company presented the Wisden Trophy, for Test matches between England and West Indies in 1963, to celebrate its 100th edition.

Typical contents

The contents include the following:
*Comment: Around a hundred pages of articles on cricketing topics, including the introductory "Notes by the Editor", which are always widely discussed in the cricketing world.
*Awards: The traditional Wisden Cricketers of the Year awards, which date back to 1889, and the Wisden Leading Cricketer of the World award, started in 2004.
*Records: Traditionally the main source for key statistics about the game, although it has never attempted to be comprehensive. Nowadays the records section is intended to be complementary to the much more detailed data available online at Wisden's associated website Cricinfo.
*English cricket: By far the largest section of the book. Hugely detailed coverage, including scorecards of every First class game played in the previous English summer, and summaries of minor counties, second eleven, university, school and premier club cricket.
*Overseas cricket: Full coverage of all international cricket and brief coverage of domestic first class cricket outside England
*History and laws.
*The Wisden review including the book's highly-regarded obituaries and the Chronicle section, with quirky cricketing items from the past year (a selection from 2005: Rabbit burns down pavilion; Hot-air balloons stop play; Cricketers arrested for dancing naked).
* Fixtures for the forthcoming season.

List of editors

* W. H. Crockford/W. H. Knight (1864-69)
* W. H. Knight (1870-79)
* G.H. West (1880-86)
* Charles F. Pardon (1887-90)
* Sydney Pardon (1891-1925)
* C. Stewart Caine (1926-33)
* Sydney J. Southerton (1934-35)
* Wilfred H. Brookes (1936-39)
* Haddon Whitaker (1940-43)
* Hubert Preston (1944-51)
* Norman Preston (1952-80)
* John Woodcock (1981-86)
* Graeme Wright (1987-92, 2001-02)
* Matthew Engel (1993-2000, 2004-07, 2009–)
* Tim de Lisle (2003)
* Scyld Berry (2008)

Years refer to the issue of Wisden, e.g. Norman Preston died in March 1980, just after that year's Wisden went to press. [http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/152198.html] [http://content-uk.cricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/almanack]

The Cricket Reporting Agency

Charles Pardon had, with George Kelly King, founded the Cricket Reporting Agency (CRA) in 1880. From Pardon's becoming editor of Wisden in 1887, the editor was nearly always a CRA partner and the CRA was responsible for the editorial production of the Almanack, until in 1965 it merged with the Press Association (PA). Throughout its 85 year existence, the CRA provided the PA with cricket and football reports and scores. Initially it had covered other sports as well, including horse racing. ["Wisden Cricketers' Almanack", 1966 edition, pp vi-vii.]

Indices and Anthologies

At least two indices to Wisden have been published:
* "Index to Wisden, 1864-1943" by Rex Pogson (1944)
* "An Index to Wisden Cricketers' Almanack" (1985)

A number of anthologies of articles from Wisden have been published. These include:
* "Wisden Anthology" by Benny Green (1979)
* "Wisden Book of Obituaries" edited by Benny Green (1986)
* "The Wisden Papers of Neville Cardus (Wisden Papers)" edited by Benny Green (1989)
* "The Wisden Papers" edited by Benny Green (1990)
* "The Concise Wisden: An Illustrated Anthology of 125 Years" edited by Benny Green (1990)
* "Wisden Anthology: 1864-1900" edited by Benny Green (1992)
* "Wisden Anthology: 1901-1939" edited by Benny Green (1992)
* "Wisden Anthology: 1940-1963" edited by Benny Green (1992)
* "Wisden Anthology: 1964-1982" edited by Benny Green (1992)
* "Endless Summer: 140 Years of Australian Cricket in Wisden" edited by Gideon Haigh (2003)
* "The Wisden Collection: Volume 1" edited by Graeme Wright (2004)
* "The Wisden Collection: Volume 2" edited by Graeme Wright (2005)
* "Wisden at Lords: An Illustrated Anthology" edited by Graeme Wright (2005)
* "Wisden Anthology: 1978-2006: Cricket's Age of Revolution" edited by Stephen Moss (2006)

Notable Entries

* Although the first edition had only 112 pages it found space to cover the dates of battles in the English Civil War, the winners of The Oaks and the rules of quoiting.

*The 1965 edition carried an obituary for Peter, the Lord's cat. "CAT, Peter, whose ninth life ended on November 5, 1964, was a well-known cricket-watcher at Lord's, where he spent 12 of his 14 years. He preferred a close-up view of the proceedings and his sleek, black form could often be seen prowling on the field of play when the crowds were biggest. He frequently appeared on the television screen. Mr SC Griffith, secretary of MCC, said of him: `He was a cat of great character and loved publicity'."

ee also

* "Wisden Cricketers' Almanack Australia" - a separate publication covering Australian cricket, introduced in 1998. It ceased publication after 2007.

Notes

References

* [http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/243912.html 20 things you never knew about Wisden] from Cricinfo
* [http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/243911.html "Wisden" timeline] from Cricinfo
* [http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/152762.html The first 100 years of "Wisden"]

External links

* [http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/wisdenalmanack/content/story/almanack/index.html "Wisden" online archive] from Cricinfo


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