The Cricketer - a history

Tim Brocklehurst
From the beginning, The Cricketer has aimed to cover the whole of the game from grass roots cricket, through schools, clubs, county and right up to Test matches

The first edition of The Cricketer, in 1921

From the beginning, The Cricketer has aimed to cover the whole of the game from grass-roots cricket, through schools, clubs, county and right up to Test matches. Founded in 1921 by Pelham (Plum) Warner - later Sir Pelham - The Cricketer has featured all the great cricket writers and many of the players in its 83-year history. Their articles give a fascinating insight into the evolution of the game's culture, standards and priorities through the 20th Century.

Plum Warner was a highly respected ex-captain of England, and was able immediately to draw on top writers of the day for his weekly publication. Many of them wrote anonymously and most of them for free through this era of gentlemen and players. In 1942 paper rationing finally forced The Cricketer to become fortnightly. Until then it had continued weekly, even though the journey from the editor's office to the typesetters took its precious handwritten pages straight through a bombed and blazing London. Every issue in this period was distributed through the Red Cross to reach PoWs overseas, for whom the magazine became a treasured reminder of life at home.

Sir Pelham remained editor of The Cricketer until 1963 when John, his son, took over. With the help of Peter Morris and Arthur Langford, editor and club editor respectively, John carried the magazine through one of its most difficult economic periods. At one stage, over 200 of its loyal readers bought shares in The Cricketer just to help keep it afloat.

Finally, at the end of the '60s Ben Brocklehurst, the former captain of Somerset and a respected magazine publisher of the time, agreed to bring The Cricketer into Mercury House Publishing. This was a move, initiated by the then editor, EW Swanton, that was to give the magazine the new lease of life that it needed. But it got worse before it got better. It was not profitable enough for the targets set at Mercury House, so Brocklehurst, with his wife Belinda in support, left the company and took The Cricketer home.

The middle years: the 1965 Spring Annual

Down a leafy Kentish lane, this husband-and-wife team launched a string of projects that were to bring The Cricketer back off its knees and propel it through the 1970s. At the forefront of their plan was a portfolio of competitions and festivals to enhance the enjoyment of cricket at all levels. From a circulation of 13,000 in 1970, The Cricketer, under the editorship of the emerging Christopher Martin-Jenkins, grew to reach 40,000 by the mid-'80s. In 1984, it was estimated that over 30,000 people all over Britain had played in one or more of The Cricketer's competitions.

The magazine continued to flourish through to the end of the century and then, in October 2003, following its corporate union with the Wisden group, it and Wisden Cricket Monthly were reborn as one in The Wisden Cricketer.