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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.
The Kanga Memorial Library at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, a beloved haunt for cricket history buffs and probably one of the only sporting libraries in the country, is fighting for survival with administrative apathy. In the Mid day, Clayton Murzello explores the library to find some its rarest classics moth-eaten and dust-laden.
First-timers to the Wankhede Stadium won't find the library without having to ask around simply because there are no sign boards leading to the premises which comes in between the plush Cricket Centre and the Wankhede Stadium. The dark alley leading to the library is indicative of the times.
Ted Corbett, in the Hindu, says in these days of rapid-fire Twenty20 and so many websites dedicated to cricket, Wisden might not be really necessary, but in traditional cricket circles it still has time to live.
Whenever I visit Lord's I see old men taking their grandsons -- rarely granddaughters I note -- along the same route the old and the young trod heaven knows how many years ago. Those young men will be taught to identify players without names and numbers, to applaud each fifty, each small partnership and even clap the players as they walk off for tea. One day granddad will buy their first bat and grumble about the price, as my mother did all those summers ago, and maybe even present them with their first Wisden -- now £50, the cost of a bottle of champagne -- and teach them to find their way from Notes by the Editor to the funny little tales in the back.
Cricket writing is once again finding the diversity in its voice, after years of shying away from big stories. In his review of the best cricket books for the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (featured in the Guardian), John Crace profiles five books, including Bookie, Gambler, Fixer, Spy, that reveal the best and worst of cricket.
Best of all, cricket writing is back on the money. Literally. There is no bigger story in cricket at the moment than its finances - particularly in regard to illegal betting. Predictably, the International Cricket Council is not that keen to investigate; its efforts limited to setting up any number of sub-committees that invariably seem to discover next to nothing. Cricket's writers have been far bolder and more successful on a fraction of the budget.
Often called the 'cricketing Bible', almost to the point of a cliché, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack will release its 150th edition next week. As he traces the history of Wisden and the challenges it faces in the modern era, former editor Matthew Engel writes in the Financial Times that Wisden offers "the illusion of timelessness, which is at the heart of cricket's appeal".
"I am not sure anyone quite understands it. What I have learnt is that it appeals most to people who love books first, and cricket second, not the other way round. That collectability is crucial. And that what readers love most is the way, searching for one fact, one gets diverted for hours: it is a reference book double-plus. Plus there is that solid, distinctive name: as Australian writer Murray Hedgcock once pointed out, Wisden would never have worked had the founder been John Smith, Jones or Robinson."
In the Telegraph, Simon Briggs says the iconic yellow jacket still marks a fixed point in a disorder world.
Stephen Moss pays tribute to the classic that reminds him of a brick. In the Observer, he muses that perhaps the real reason to collect it is so that "one can build a small house, a protection against the real world that helps its readers forget that time must move on."
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?
CLR James' Beyond a Boundary, written while he was in exile, remains the best study on the history of cricket and its impact on a society that was divided along the lines of class and nationality. In this article, Mike Marqusee traces the journey of the book and the immense intellectual insight that James provides, transcending history, sport, sociology and politics.
As innovative in form as it is in content, Beyond a Boundary is uncategorisable, a blend of memoir, history, theory, journalism, political manifesto. For all its diversity, it has what many of today's hybrid texts lack: a commanding intelligence and a distinctive voice, dry, purposeful, thrillingly and theatrically didactic. The book is all of a piece and would be diminished by the loss of any of its component parts.
Gideon Haigh's new book, On Warne, is the finest cricket book of the year, reviews Andy Bull in the Guardian. Bull says that Haigh's book is a "portrait that's expertly painted".
The second chapter in particular, which opens with an intricate description of Warne's approach to the crease and then leads the reader through the four stages of Warne's career, is as good as anything I have read on the game. On Warne is not a biography, but a portrait, and expertly painted. Haigh cuts out the extraneous information and concentrates on the essence, capturing it through judicious use of anecdotes, statistics, quotations and his own observations.
In the Guardian Shehan Karunatilaka, the author of Chinaman, picks his ten favourites cricket books, including classics like Beyond a boundary and Don Bradman's Art of cricket.
For more on cricket books, check out our Must-Read books section.
Telford Vice, writing in Business Day, reviews Robin Jackman's autobiography. Jackers: A Life in Cricket isn’t all about cricket, he says; there is enough there to satisfy aficionados, and a lot else besides.
The value of Jackman’s life is that it would have a book in it even if he wasn’t a public figure. His father, a British army colonel who lost a leg in a shooting accident and wrote sentimental verse, is straight out of Wodehouse. One of his poems was titled Fred’s Erection. No, sport-lovers, it’s not what you think. Patrick Cargill, star of British sitcom Father Dear Father and two Carry On films, was Jackman’s uncle. At 15, Jackman was invited to a lunch to celebrate the completion of the filming of A Countess from Hong Kong, Charlie Chaplin’s last project as a director. It featured Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando.
In a review of Imran Khan's autobiographical book Pakistan, A Personal History, the Economist says that the impression left for the reader is of a man who is likeable and sincere, but not much gifted at understanding the motivations and plans of those around him.
But even by his own record, Mr Khan comes across as naive, short on the cunning displayed by Pakistan's brilliantly awful politicians, who milk funds from the state to keep control of their regional fiefs. More important, he still looks unable to organise. He talks grandly in his book of Pakistan's desperate lack of strong institutions, arguing that these are what made Western countries flourish. Yet judge by how his own party has failed to develop over the years, and Mr Khan seems to have little gift for building any structure that goes beyond his personal brand.
Tony Gould reviews Cricket at the Crossroads by Guy Fraser-Sampson in the Observer - a book about the ten years from 1967-1977, a time of political turmoil and bitter rivalry that made it a gripping decade for cricket.
The period goes from the captaincy controversy surrounding Brian Close, through the South Africa apartheid saga and the introduction of one-day internationals, up to the players' revolt over pay, which – combined with the media war between Kerry Packer and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – led to the defection of almost all the international stars to Packer's World Series Cricket. Fraser-Sampson has interviewed several survivors from that era; he also uses the memoirs of John Snow and Derek Underwood, as well as Colin Cowdrey and Raymond Illingworth, to good effect. Though far from impartial, he tries to present the motives of those of whom he is most critical in the best light.