RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
2018 New Zealand Cricket Almanack
2018 New Zealand Cricket Almanack
Edited by Francis Payne and Ian Smith

A Mower book published by Upstart Press Ltd.
Level 4, 15 Huron Street,
Takapuna, Auckland, New Zealand

ISBN 978-1-988516-31-8

NZ RRP: $55

Francis Payne and Ian Smith are New Zealand's foremost cricket statisticians and have been editing the New Zealand Cricket Almanack for many years. The Almanack is widely regarded as one of the best publications of its type.

The 71st edition of New Zealand Cricket Almanack is the 36th edited by Francis Payne and Ian Smith. Cricket's library has been enriched by the appearance of this Almanack over the years.

Trent Boult and Ross Taylor have been named Players of the Year and three of New Zealand's most exciting young talents, Mark Chapman, Ben Lister and Blair Tickner as promising players.

2018 New Zealand Cricket Almanack is a quality product from Upstart Press Ltd., deserving 100% marks for production, designing, formating and lay-out of scorecards apart from extraordinary black and white photographs.

The Almanack records another year packed with cricket at all levels. The Black Caps toured India and then hosted West Indies, Pakistan and England. They also took part in an historic Twenty20 Tri-series with Australia and England.

The highlights of the season, according to the editors, was in New Zealand's first day/night Test in Auckland where England were bowled out for 58, their lowest score against New Zealand. It looked as though it was going to be even worse with the lowest test total of all-time, 26 by New Zealand, under serious threat. England were 23-7 at the first drinks break and lost another wicket without addition before a Craig Overton boundary left New Zealand still holding the most unwanted record in Test cricket.

The Happenings' section is full of fascinating tidbits.

  • There was a bizarre incident in the Ford Trophy semi-final between Auckland and Canterbury at Colin Maiden Park on February 21, 2018. During the course of his innings of 149 off 153 balls, Auckland opening batsman Jeet Raval struck an Andrew Ellis delivery so hard that it hit the bowler's head and still crossed the boundary rope for a six. Ellis, the Canterbury captain, passed a concussion test before completing his over, returned to bowl six more and batted in his usual number six position, showing no obvious ill effects. Raval's lofted drive struck Ellis on the front of his head before sailing over the ropes. The umpire initially signalled a four, before revising his decision.
  • Trent Boult (10.4-3-32-6) and Tim Southee (10-3-25-4) became the first New Zealand bowlers to bowl unchanged through a completed Test innings when they routed England (58) at Eden Park, Auckland in March 2018. It was the first instance anywhere since James Anderson (11.3-5-23-2) and Stuart Broad (11-0-44-7) bowled New Zealand out for 68 at Lord's in 2013.
  • The second Test between New Zealand and England at Christchurch in March/April 2018 saw the opening bowlers from each side, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, James Anderson and Stuart Broad captured the first 23 wickets that fell in the match. It had been more than 100 years since all twenty first innings had fallen to the opening pairs. In the match at Melbourne in 1901-02, England's Syd Barnes and Colin Blythe bowled unchanged to dismiss the home side and Hugh Trumble and Monty Noble returned the favour when the visitors batted. Barnes then took the first three Australian wickets in the second innings before a run-out ended the sequence.
  • New Zealand bowled West Indies out for 134 on the first day of the first Test at Wellington in December 2017. Neil Wagner's figures of 7 for 39 (from 14.4 overs) are the best on the first day of a test match in New Zealand. Simon Doull's 7 for 65 against India on Boxing Day 1998, also at Wellington, was the previous first-day best. Doull, who started with a wicket in the first over of the game, took the first seven wickets to fall, dismissing Sidhu, Dravid, Jadeja, Ganguly, Tendulkar, Mongia and Kumble.
  • Brad Schmulian became the first player in New Zealand cricket history to post a double century on his first-class debut when he made 203 off 207 balls for Central Districts against Northern Districts at Mount Maunganui in October 2017.
Dedicated cricket enthusiasts will be particularly fascinated by the detailed statistical sections, covering New Zealand's Tests, ODIs and T20Is and First-class cricket. These are always exhaustive.

Domestic cricket featured the Plunket Shield, the Ford Trophy, Burger King Super Smash Twenty20 competition, the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield and the women's Twenty20 competition. Besides, there is also coverage of Hawke Cup and age-group cricket. New Zealand also hosted the Under 19 World Cup.

Bevan Congdon, who died on February 10, 2018, has been paid a rich tribute. Three other New Zealand cricketers have also figured in the Obituaries' section - Women's cricketer, Vera Burt (nee Robinson), Tom Pritchard and Norman Wilson.

The 2018 Almanack consists of 560 pages, packed with match reports, scorecards, statistics and photographs.

Pleasantly packaged and liberally illustrated, it is a massive source of reference pertaining to New Zealand cricket, worth its weight in gold, which wets the appetite for further exploration. The Almanack deserves to be bought, read and pondered.