RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
South African Cricket Annual 2016
South African Cricket Annual 2016 Edited by Colin Bryden ((Statistics by Andrew Samson)

Published by Cricket South Africa
P.O.Box 55009, Northlands 2116, South Africa.
Price South African Rands 200

Four bowlers and a wicketkeeper have been named as the South African Cricket Annual's Cricketers of the Year - Fast bowlers, Sisanda Magala and Hardus Viljoen, spinners, Dane Piedt an Tabraiz Shamsi and wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Vilas.

Dane Piedt, according to Altus Momberg, is still a baby as an international spinner and the room for improvement is obvious. A thinking man's cricketer, the Capetonian is looking for a long international career."

Antoinette Muller says Dane Vilas finished as the second highest run-scorer with 781 runs at an average of 69.18 in the domestic first-class competition - the highest average of all batsmen. "He also notched up a career-best, unbeaten 216 and his strike rate of 78.77 was the highest among leading batsmen in the competition. These statistics underscores that he embodies the 'typical wicketkeeper' personality: feisty and cunning with the ability to put his foot on the run-rate when it is needed.

The outstanding Annual, edited by journalist and broadcaster Colin Bryden, provides a comprehensive 680-page record of cricket played in South Africa during the past year, including full reports of South African tour to India apart from the tours by England and Australia to South Africa and the Tri-series in West Indies.

Commenting on the South African team's performance in India, Colin Bryden says: "What is undeniable is that the Test team had a difficult time in a four-Test series in India, which had a knock-on effect in their home series against England not many weeks later. To some extent the Proteas inadvertently played a role in their own downfall by playing some outstanding cricket in the Twenty20 and one-day international series in India ahead of the Test matches there. This prompted Ravi Shastri, the director of the Indian team, to rail against groundsmen for supposedly preparing pitches which suited the tourists. It hardly came as a surprise, then, that the pitches for the Test matches proved ideal for the Indian spin bowlers. The South Africans, normally reasonably competent against spin, could not come to terms with the conditions and lost three out of the four matches. It might have been 4-0 had not rain washed out four days of the second Test in Bangalore."

The present edition is the 22nd under the editorship of veteran cricket writer Colin Bryden. He has emulated the feat of the legendary Geoffrey Chettle, who edited the first 22 editions.

Eleven out of the fifteen sessions in the rain-affected Durban Test between South Africa and New Zealand, played in August 2016, were lost to rain and because of the subsequent wetness and softening of the outfield. Bryden believes "more resources should be directed at minimising time lost because of rain. It should surely not be impossible to cover an entire outfield, not just the area around the pitch".

South African Cricket Annual is deservedly held in the highest regard internationally alongside other prestigious publications such as the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack and New Zealand Cricket Almanack - the credit of which goes to Colin Bryden, Andrew Samson, South Africa's number one cricket statistician and Ros Brodie apart from regular contributors.
A veritable mine of information, this richly filled edition holds many pleasures to be savoured and maintains the exemplary standards of a publication of high repute.

The highlight of the South African Cricket Annual, as always, has been a meticulously compiled records' section by my friend, Andrew Samson, covering South African Tests, ODIs, Twenty20 Internationals apart from first-class and South African women cricket.

Over the years, Andrew Samson has done a tremendous amount of research, producing interesting facts and figures. His excellent statistical work needs no introduction. It is first-rate.

South African Cricket Annual 2016 contains sections on Obituaries, Who's Who, South African International Cricketers and Features of the season and Women's cricket.

A top-class and lavish production worth every penny for its 680 pages. Everything about it is 'right' - the colour photography, the layout and the clear font. Highly recommended for every one interested in South African/International cricket.

The detailed study of a South African first-class season will be of inestimable value to the cricket historians of the future. The attention to minutiae is exemplary. South African Cricket Annual 2016 is both pleasingly designed and reasonably priced and a priceless work of reference.