Life beyond the Test world
Encyclopaedia of World Cricket by Roy Morgan (SportsBooks Ltd, 2007)
Thanks in part to the ICC's policy of global expansion, in part to the spread of expats from the traditional cricket-playing countries, and in part to the effort of a relatively small number of passionate individuals, cricket is now played in at least 127 countries, with about 105 taking part in international fixtures.
Understandably, the bulk of media coverage concentrates on the Test-playing countries - some would argue only the main three or four - and the rest barely get a mention ... despite Cricinfo's best endeavours!
In his excellent guide to life beyond the Test world, Roy Morgan looks to correct the imbalance. In a world where the ghosted and often bland biography prevails, it's a refreshing change to read a book which will never top the bestseller lists but is necessary, informative, well researched and interesting.
The book opens with a thought-provoking essay on why the game has expanded as it has - and the reasons are not as obvious as they might seem - through to fascinating country profiles to which Morgan wisely adds colour with accounts of important matches and biographies of leading players. He also does this for major Test-playing nations as well, but trying to condense, say, Australia's cricket history into six pages and to include three famous victories by them is rather pointless. He perhaps would have been better advised to leave the Full Member countries alone and concentrate on the remainder.
It's much the same with tournaments and competitions. More on events such as the ICC Trophy and less on the World Cup proper might have been advisable, and at times there is a suspicion that some of this information is included as padding.
That might be slightly unfair, though, and the book's title makes it clear that it is about the game wherever it is played. The only thing is that there already are many in-depth accounts of the game in most of the major centres, and where Morgan succeeds is in highlighting cricket outside those.
But those criticisms - to which the absence of photographs ought to be added - should not detract from the book itself. This is an excellent, reasonably priced encyclopaedia of world cricket and adds considerably to the profile and understanding of the game.
Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo