WISDEN – the cricketers’ bible – continues its 150-year crusade to bring everything that’s important in the sport – and quite a bit that isn’t – to the attention of the assiduous reader.
The 152nd edition (John Wisden, £50) oversees another year of promise for the national game and another year in which that promise failed to be delivered. Poor showings in recent series coupled with some fairly dismal returns in the one-day arena are all reported, dissected and analysed with Wisden’s usual attention to detail.
On the domestic front, Worcestershire’s promotion season is fully covered from the early promising start through a few stutters to the final drag over the finishing line for the county’s fifth promotion in a dozen summers.
The reliance on proven talents like Daryl Mitchell and Saeed Ajmal is clear for all to see, but the statistics also highlight real hopes for the future in players of the calibre of Jack Shantry and Charlie Morris.
There’s abundant mention too of those who the county lost during the season – the death of Damian D’Oliveira a poignant reminder of the fact that, for all its noise and clamour, it is still just a game.
However, if the county’s impact on the wider cricketing world can be summed up in a single face, that would be the hugely popular and instantly recognisable features of Moeen Ali – now an England fixture and an ambassador for the county, the game and so much more.
It’s fitting, surely, that he is awarded the honour not only of being one of the five cricketers of the year but of gracing the front cover too.
Spread throughout its 1,500 pages are fabulous examples of the minutiae of the sport. Readers opening this compact but hefty book to find the birthplace of one player will soon find themselves pursuing reports of one-day games in northern Bangladesh or batting averages in the public schools.
The women’s game also enjoys enhanced coverage. As intriguing and indispensable as ever, the bright yellow almanack should provide plenty to entertain when the summer’s rain inevitably halts play.