Ever since the game of cricket has been played, detailed facts and records have been kept. Facts for the first test matches have been kept since 1877. By the very nature of the game, cricket has created vast amounts of statistical records and a superbly rich list collection of cricketing stories, the 2009 Ashes series Test between England and Australia will be no different. So where do you go to get information on all things to do with cricket?
Simply the first port of call for all things cricket must be Wisden, this Cricket Almanac is THE reference guide for cricket, and was first produced in 1864 by the English cricketer John Wisden and has been published annually every year since. Although it generally weighs in with around 1500 pages of facts and figures, the first edition only ran to 112 pages and was padded out with several items unrelated to cricket such as dates of battle in the English Civil War, the winners of The Oaks.
The Almanac first appeared in a salmon pink colour but today’s easily recognizable yellow cover first appeared on the 75th edition in 1938 as did the woodcut image of two Victorian gentlemen playing cricket in top hats and tight trousers. The first ‘real’ person to appear on the cover was Michael Vaughan in 2003.
The Wisden Almanac is indestructible! Even though the Wisden factory at Mortlake wad destroyed in 1944 after being hit by a German bomb destroying all the records it really didn’t suffer any loss in production as all the information was contained within the existing Almanac and the company managed to continue production without losing any vital information.
There have only been 16 editors of Wisden in its 146 years – the shorted serving just one year and the longest 34 years.
Wisden’s Cricketer of The Year dates back to 1899 and is one of the oldest sporting honours. Since 1927 there have been five chosen in each edition (excepting the war years (1941-1946) when none were chosen – although the almanac was still produced. The 2006 Edition saw the 300th Wisden Cricketer Of The Year since the Second World War and in 2009 England’s Claire Taylor became the first woman to be chosen. Once you have received this accolade you are not eligible to be nominated a second time.
Although records of test matches have been kept since 1877 the very first Test Match between England and Australia that took place that year was not covered in Wisden for 100 years. The scorecard was printed to celebrate the centenary of the test in 1977 and bizarrely, the result was the same in both cases – Australia won by 45 runs.
Wisden now boasts an associated website Cricinfo and the book is now more an additional reference to this site. As one would expect of anything Wisden, it is probably the most comprehensive online cricket information site in the world, containing a huge archive of cricket records and statistics. Use the Cricinfo Stats guru to find out any cricket you may possibly want to know, be it countries, players, grounds or officials. It has such a wealth of information that you really can make it your ‘one stop shop’ for all things cricket.
Watch and listen carefully for new statistics, facts and stories as England and Australia return to their age old rivalry at the 2009 Ashes Test series this summer. Only one team can return with the famous Urn. Urn – what Urn I hear you say …. Ah that’s another story!