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The longest-running sports annual in history, The Wisden Cricketers' Almanack has remained steadfast through wars and global crises and even technological revolutions. In Wisden India, six editors of the Almanack share their thoughts on what it means to be a Wisden editor.
In an umpiring career that spanned almost three decades, Dickie Bird became one of the game's most loveable and respected characters, a genuine friend to all cricketers. Bird turns 80 on April 19 and despite not being as robust as before, he still remains passionate about cricket, writes Simon Briggs in the Telegraph.
The carers have left and Bird is independent again, still living in the house that he bought as Yorkshire's opening batsman in the 1960s. Today, it has become a shrine to the persona he inhabited for another three decades after that. "Dickie Bird here, Test match umpire," he still likes to say, when he rings up to discuss the latest local prospect - or, more likely, the evils of the TV review. The walls are covered with photographs of Bird himself, standing in his white cap behind the stumps as Richard Hadlee, or Kapil Dev, or Imran Khan roars in to bowl. The desk carries a miniature version of the statue erected to him in the centre of Barnsley. "It stands on the exact spot where I was born, 100 yards from the town hall - trips come from all over to see my statue and go around the market."
There are few Indian cricketers who have given back to the game as richly as Balwinder Singh Sandhu. Sandhu, who played an important role in India's 1983 World Cup win by dismissing Gordon Greenidge, turned to coaching after retirement and has coached teams at different levels in the domestic set-up. In the Times of India, Makarand Waingankar traces Sandhu's development as a cricketer and a coach.
The story of Ballu becoming a medium pacer is amazing to say the least. He was playing in 'D' division of a Mumbai Cricket Association tournament for Sind sports club. One day their main medium-pacer didn't turn up. The captain GT Punjabi threw the new ball to Ballu, who then was an off spinner! From that day, Ballu always bowled with a new ball.
There are few books on cricket that have had as powerful and as lasting an impact as CLR James' Beyond a Boundary. Fifty years after its publication, it is still regarded by many as the greatest book on the game. Writing in the Guardian, Selma James, wife of CLR, shares her insights into a book that her husband "had to write".
Establishing early the interconnection between cricket and race and class divisions opens the way for Beyond a Boundary to fulfil its author's full purpose: to draw out other startling connections - cricket and art, life in ancient Greece, even rewriting English social history with cricket's great WG Grace as a crucial figure. As startling as his connections is the light he sheds on each - not only cricket but every subject benefits from shattering boundaries. We are invited to reject the fragmenting of reality, and to see its diverse interconnections without which we are prevented from ever knowing anything fully - including our own reality. What do they know of cricket, or anything, if it is walled off from every other aspect of life and struggle?
Matthew Hayden, in an interview with the BCCI, reflects on the historic 2001 series against India, and how integral the tour was to him and his Test career with Australia.
In 1995-96 a small unit of Australian batsmen were selected to practice at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai. During the same time, there was also a small spin-bowling camp that was going on under Bishen Singh Bedi and S Venkatraghavan. I wasn't picked for that. I rang the chairman of selectors and said, 'Look, if there's any way I can go on this tour, please consider me for selection.' As it turned out, Greg Blewett pulled out of the tour and I was called up.
That trip wasn't about batting in India. I don't even remember picking up my bat and having a net. I was more a witness to the subtleties of the strategy of spin - where those two gentlemen would set fields, what their bowling plans would be, how that will impact me as a batsman and how I can manipulate the field to score runs. It was more about understanding the captaincy moves and the mind of a spin bowler. It was then for me to take that information away and start to generate some scoring options, form an attacking game plan against spin and develop the ability to bat for a long period of time and sustain the pressure of spin bowling. It was an incredibly valuable experience, one that I really cherish and will never forget.
The Wisden Cricketers' Almanack perhaps put it most succinctly: "Statistics are absurd for such a man." For Robert Crisp, had a remarkable life that went beyond the nine Tests he played for South Africa - from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to surviving attacks on battle tanks during the Second World War and beating cancer later in life. In the The Spin, Andy Bull looks at one of cricket's great adventurers.
Jonathan Crisp says he has it on "very good authority from a lot of different people" that his father was recommended for the Victoria Cross, but Field Marshal Montgomery refused to allow it because Crisp was so ill-disciplined. He was demoted three times. But then he was also mentioned in despatches four times. Crisp was awarded the Military Cross instead. He was presented with it by King George VI, who asked him if his cricket career would be affected by the wound. "No sire," Crisp replied. "I was only hit in the head."
The Nightwatchman, a new quarterly magazine from Wisden Cricket, features articles from various popular cricket writers. In the inaugural issue, among others, Christian Ryan deconstructs the genius of Shivnarine Chanderpaul while historian James Holland retraces the life of English spinner Hedley Verity, who was killed during the Second World War. Sample the offerings here.