Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (often referred to simply as Wisden or colloquially as "the Bible of Cricket") is a cricket reference book published annually in the United Kingdom. It is considered the world's most famous sports reference book. The description "bible of cricket" was first used in the 1930s by Alec Waugh in a review for the London Mercury. In October 2013, an all-time Test World XI was announced to mark the 150th anniversary of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.
In 2012, an Indian edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack was launched to widespread acclaim.
- 1 History
- 2 Editions
- 3 Contents
- 4 Editors
- 5 Contributors
- 6 Five Cricketers of the Year
- 7 Indices and anthologies
- 8 Collectors
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Wisden was founded in 1864 by the English cricketer John Wisden (1826–84) 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".
Charles Pardon, 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).
Wisden was acquired and published by Robert Maxwell's publishing conglomerate, Macdonald, in the 1970s. Cricket fan Sir Paul Getty bought the company, John Wisden & Co, in 1993. And in December 2008, it was sold to A&C Black, which is owned by Bloomsbury. The company presented the Wisden Trophy, for Test matches between England and West Indies in 1963, to celebrate its 100th edition.
Wisden is a small-paged but a 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. Prior to that, covers varied between yellow, buff and salmon pink. That edition was also the first to display the famous woodcut of two cricketers, by Eric Ravilious, on its cover. It is published each April, just before the start of the English domestic cricket season. Since 2003 the woodcut has been replaced as the main feature of the front cover by a photograph of a current cricketer, but still appears albeit in a much reduced size.
It is produced in both hardcover and softcover versions. 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.
The format has changed markedly over the years. The first edition had only 112 pages yet found space to cover the dates of battles in the English Civil War, the winners of The Oaks and the rules of quoiting.
The contents of a contemporary edition include the following sections:
Around a hundred pages of articles on cricketing topics, including the introductory "Notes by the Editor", which address often controversial cricket issues and always provoke discussion in the cricketing world.
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 ESPNcricinfo.
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.
Full coverage of all international cricket and brief coverage of domestic first class cricket outside England.
Law and Administration
This short section, 80 pages in the 2010 edition, has information about and addresses of official cricket bodies as well as the full laws of cricket, together with appendices. There are also details of meetings held by official bodies, including their major decisions, as well as articles about the Duckworth–Lewis method and Powerplays. The laws have been omitted from the most recent editions.
The Wisden Review
This section includes the Chronicle (noteworthy events from the previous year), reviews of other cricket books published in the year, noteworthy retirements and the highly regarded obituaries section among others.
This section contains fixtures for the forthcoming international and English domestic season, the international schedule for the upcoming seven years and the Index of Unusual Occurrences featuring quirky cricketing stories. A selection from recent years includes: Rabbit burns down pavilion; Hot-air balloons stop play; Cricketers arrested for dancing naked; Fine leg arrives by parachute; Fried calamari stopped play; Umpire locked in ground overnight..
Wisden has had 17 editors in nearly 150 years of publication.
- 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)
- Tim de Lisle (2003)
- Scyld Berry (2008–11)
- Lawrence Booth (2012 to present)
As would be expected from a publication of such size and longevity, Wisden has had a large number of contributors. The majority involve match reports for the various fixtures recorded each year, but also biographies, reviews and opinion. Practically all the great cricket writers have written for Wisden, along with many great cricketers. Neville Cardus contributed many notable essays and for many years John Arlott was responsible for the book reviews.
Five Cricketers of the Year
Since 1902 (with the occasional exception) Wisden has honoured five cricketers for their outstanding achievements over the previous year. Further details, with a full list of recipients of the award, can be found at Wisden Cricketers of the Year.
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 1864-1984 by Derek Barnard (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)
Collecting 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. Rare copies of the early editions can sell for thousands. The editions published during the two World Wars are also very rare: as a result of wartime paper restrictions a 1916 hardback is worth circa £6,000 and a 1941 around £1,500. In recent times, facsimiles of many of the early editions have been published; an example of a collection can be seen here. Realised auction prices are published on the internet.
- Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury bowled over to catch Wisden | Mail Online. Dailymail.co.uk (2008-12-05). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
- Daily Telegraph, 6 April 2013, p S23, "Wisden by name, wisdom by nature" by Simon Briggs
- "Don Bradman, Shane Warne in Wisden's XI". theaustralian.com. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- "Sachin Tendulkar in Wisden's All-time World Test XI". NDTV. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- "Sachin Tendulkar named in Wisden all-time World Test XI". DNA India. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- "WG Grace and Shane Warne in Wisden all-time World Test XI". BBC.co.uk. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- "Wisden India Almanack 2013". Wisden India. December 29, 2012.
- Engel, Matthew (April 5, 2013). "Words on the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack". ft.com. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
- Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 1966 edition, pp vi–vii.
- Wisden Almanack | | ESPN Cricinfo. Content-www.cricinfo.com (1970-01-01). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
- Wisden Cricketers' Almanack Announcement Retrieved 6 Jan 2011
- "A Wisden Collection In Pictures". WISDENS.org. Jan 2006. Retrieved 2013-11-23.
- "Wisden Valuations - CLick Recent Values to see them". WISDENS.org. Nov 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-23.