WISDEN’S ALMANAC REVIEWED

Meanwhile, the familiar yellow brick of the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has climbed into second place, well on its way to its regular annual sale of some 40,000 copies. Not bad for a book that retails at £45 (even if it does make finding out information easier than playing scratch cards!)

One suspects that a good proportion of readers buy it with a collector’s impulse, adding the latest edition to a line of short, stocky primrose jackets.

Plenty more buy it because it remains a reliable source of statistics, and in 10 years they might conceivably want to know what happened when Sussex played Nottinghamshire at Horsham.

The articles, one suspects, do not come high up the list of Wisden’s selling points. Which is a shame, because they are invariably full of wisdom, humour and the unexpected.

This year, the editor, Scyld Berry, begins with a description of the Lahore terrorist attack from the perspective of the Sri Lankan team bus. It is a hard piece to read without a lump in the throat.

Elsewhere, Berry has been critical of the England and Wales Cricket Board in his editors’ notes, which is almost a requirement for any editor of Wisden.

He savages the ECB’s decision to eliminate 50-over cricket, arguing it has ruined England’s prospects of winning the World Cup. The ECB’s motto, he says, should be amended to: “If at first you don’t succeed, give up.”

But while 40-over matches may be unsatisfactory, Wisden does at least salute the fact that their tea intervals have been extended to 25 minutes. In a piece entitled ‘This little social heaven’, Ivo Tennant writes that “the professional of 2010 is still served cucumber sandwiches at Lord’s”, along with a variety of cakes: fruit, ginger, carrot and Victorian sponge.

Their arrival suggests at least some elements of cricket are sacred.