Wednesday 14 April 2010

Old Boy

For a 147 year-old, the Wisden Almanack is a forward-thinker, the anachronistic [who else is putting out 1700 page books in 2010?] but glorious oldest swinger in town. It's an adopter of that trending religion Sehwagology, having [rightly] voted the great yet humble one World Player of the Year for the second time running. It even contains its first recorded swearword - courtesy of an Australian, natch. Under Scyld Berry, it's a thunderer, too, taking righteous aim at the guilty.

Which makes its selection of Five Cricketers Of The Year not so much disappointing as uninspiring. Stuart Broad, Graham Onions, Graeme Swann, Matt Prior and Michael Clarke - well, to use another modernism - it's all a bit meh isn't it. It's also centered deeply around the Ashes and dismissive of T20 cricket.

The award needs a little decoding. Since the Almanack began, the selection of the five has been based on play in the English summer. That lasted until 1997 when, progressively, the editors wanted to recognise the way that Sanath Jayasuriya and Sri Lanka had reinvented the game at the 50-over World Cup. That in turn remained until 2004 and the introduction of the World Player of the Year and the Test Team of the Year, when the selection reverted to the English season.

That again feels outmoded. The world has changed since 2004. The last English summer included the T20 World Cup, which featured giant contributions from Tillakaratne Dilshan, Umar Gul, Abdul Razzak, Chris Gayle and Shahid Afridi. Dilshan's impact on batting was arguably as electric as Jayasuriya's back in '96 - he even coined a new shot. The tournament was a triumph, for the hosts, for Pakistan and for cricket. It, and they, deserved recognition.

It would be churlish to decry the players who did get the award. All of them, especially Clarke and Swann, illuminated a fine series that suffered only in comparison to its 2005 predecessor. But Wisden looked forward in every aspect except this one, and they missed a trick when they did. 


Thiru Cumaran said...

The excuse they generally have for this is "It is an English publication".

To a fair extent, this is true when looking at the extensive coverage given to English county cricket every year.

However, if that was the case, then they shouldn't be even providing summaries of the domestic seasons of the other 9 test-playing nations! :S

Scyld Berry, I/we demand an explanation!

Anonymous said...

I got told off on the Wisden Cricketer site for suggesting that as it claimed to be an International magazine (check the marketing spiel at the tops of the web pages) they could be a little bit less anglo/Ashes-centric in their reporting. Mind you, they have moved on a bit and appear to spend a lot of time obsessing about the IPL so I guess that is forward motion.

Thiru Cumaran said...

Lou, FYI, the Wisden Cricketer isn't affiliated to the Almanack. They go to great pains to emphasise that in their physical mag! :)

Mark said...

Don't forget the other restriction on the 'Wisden 5 cricketers of the year' - you can only be selected once.

Can't argue with cc22 - some good points there.

Anonymous said...

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