Benny Green

GREEN, BERNARD, died on June 22, 1998, aged 70. Benny Green was a jazz musician, broadcaster, writer and wit who had the rare ability to make unexpected connections between his various enthusiasms, and delighted millions of people in the process. Among those enthusiasms were cricket - he grew up watching Compton at Lord's- and, most specifically, Wisden, which he regarded as a work of glorious social history. He reviewed the Almanack one year in The Spectator, and suggested there ought to be an anthology. There was only one candidate for the job.

In 1979 he began work, reading the entire canon cover-to-cover before slimming down the first 119 editions into four (chunky) volumes, brought alive by Green's eye for telling and quirky detail. This turned into a cottage industry: spin-offs included The Wisden Book of Obituaries (1986), The Wisden Papers (1989) and The Concise Wisden (1990), originally published two years earlier especially for Marks & Spencer, a very Greenish connection itself. His various introductions are mini-classics.

He also published a number of other cricket books, including a notably eclectic non-Wisden anthology, The Cricket Addict's Archive (later retitled Benny Green's Cricket Archive). He talked about everything with an auto-didact's zest, and in an unchanging Cockney accent. "The effect," wrote Dave Gelly in The Observer, "was as though a particularly grumpy taxi-driver had started quoting Dr Johnson while sorting out your change."

© John Wisden & Co