Reviews ReviewsRSS FeedFeeds

Edited by Jonathan Agnew

Cheltenham and Gloucester Cricket Year

Martin Williamson

Text size: A | A

A&C Black, 319pp rrp £22.50

I recently heard someone dismiss the C&G Cricket Year, now in its 24th year, as a poor man's Wisden. That is has survived so long and continues to flourish should be an indication that it deserves respect in its own right. But aside from its English bias - coverage not writing - the similarities are few.

I must confess that I was an avid reader of the book when it first came out - then it was under the sponsorship of Benson & Hedges - and the first ten or so issues were a perennial Christmas must-have. But then I drifted onto other things, and so I was interested to know what had become of the publication.

What I enjoyed in the original was that it complemented Wisden. While the Almanack provided a mass of statistics and scorecards, the B&H put flesh on those bones. It reported in some depth on overseas matches - domestic games from the Caribbean to Pakistan and Australia warranted potted reports and an abundance of pictures. Armed with Wisden and the B&H, someone who wanted to know what had happened across the world just about had it all at his fingertips.

A decade and a bit later, the world has moved on. The internet means that scores from the extremities are now almost instantly available, and even Wisden has taken the plunge and uses pictures liberally. But that very progress appears to have led to the C&G withdrawing back to its core audience. It is now unashamedly aimed at the UK market, with little more than passing coverage from elsewhere. Take Australia. Their whole year is given 12 pages, five of which are text, five scorecards of Tests, and VB Series potted scores so brief as to be, frankly, useless. It's the same elsewhere.

But the UK coverage is good. It presents a review of the English summer in a more colourful and less wordy format that the Almanack, and in time for the lucrative Christmas market - no mean feat given that that now almost drags on into October. The format of the book means that the layout is user friendly - the font can be read by people with anything other than hawk-like vision for one thing - and the lavish use of colour pictures really enhances the written word.

But therein lies the other major gripe. Wisden does offer a high standard of writing, and its reputation means that it can attract the cream of the crop. The C&G, under the editorship of Jonathan Agnew, is far more limited, in terms of space and, I assume, budget. Agnew himself, aided by Mark Baldwin, contributes large swathes of the England pages, and does so effectively. But although there are some good essays dotted here and there - Charlie Austin (who is Cricinfo's man in Sri Lanka) writes with first-hand experience of the effect of the tsunami - they are too few and far between to really satisfy those looking for something more than a quick ten-minute flick. Major issues which dominated English cricket - the Zimbabwe tour and the BSkyB TV deal, to name two - are given no more than a few lines in Agnew's editorial.

I was left with a feeling of not really knowing who this book is aimed at. When I first bought it, I remember thinking that I need it and Wisden to cover all the bases. I still need Wisden; the C&G is now no more than a welcome addition ... but not a vital one. Times have moved on, and there is a suspicion that the C&G has not quite kept up.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Martin Williamson

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email Feedback Print
Martin WilliamsonClose
Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
Related Links
Players/Officials: Jonathan Agnew
Teams: England | Surrey

    'The guy you want to go to war with'

My XI: Martin Crowe on the gritty approach that turned Allan Border into a run-machine

    What good is a nightwatchman?

Rob Steen: In modern times, a few tailenders have thrived higher up the order, but the psychological advantage it gives the opposition can't be discounted

    Together they fall

Jarrod Kimber: England rose to No. 1 with a machine-like efficiency but the signs of an impending breakdown were quickly apparent

    Four in four, and stands by Nos. 10 and 11

Ask Steven: Also, most balls faced in a T20, highest limited-overs score at Lord's, and long lives after Test debut

A strange, brutal magic

Jon Hotten: As Ishant Sharma showed at Lord's, short-pitched bowling can open old wounds and create sudden uncertainty

News | Features Last 7 days

Ridiculed Ishant ridicules England

Ishant Sharma has often been the butt of jokes, and sometimes deservedly so. Today, however, the joke was on England

England seem to have forgotten about personality

They have to see a glass that is half-full, and play the game as if it is just that, a game; and an opportunity

Bigger concerns for England than Lord's pitch

While the pitch took most of the blame at Trent Bridge, at Lord's England will need to get more controlling overs from their spinners. The reality is there is no quick fix

Another battle, another defeat on Planet Al

Alastair Cook has got used to feeling of the axe hanging over him. Only his team-mates can save England now

'Even the bluddy Nawab!'

Pataudi Jr caught a young English fan's fancy for his princely ways and his heroic batting

News | Features Last 7 days