RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
South African Cricket Annual 2018
South African Cricket Annual 2018
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

What is common between Junior Dala, Aiden Markram, Lungi Ngidi, Jon-Jon Smuts and Rassie Van Der Dussen? They all have been named as Cricketers of the Year by the authoritative publication, now in its 65th year - the 24th under the editorship of veteran cricket writer and broadcaster, Colin Bryden.
Markram had managed 1,000 runs (ave. 55.55) in ten Tests, including four hundreds and three fifties, in his first season (2017-18) of Test Cricket with a highest score of 152 vs Australia at Johannesburg in March 2018

South African Cricket Annual, is acknowledged as one of the best cricket publications in the world. Over the years, It has become indispensable to followers of South African cricket. Colin Bryden has competently edited the 2018 Annual, taking it to another level of excellence.

In purely cricket terms, according to Colin Bryden, "the past year was mainly successful, highlighted by the national team defeating India and Australia in two riveting Test series. India were, and remain at the time of writing, the number one Test team, while it was the first time in the post-unity era that long-time rivals Australia had been defeated in a Test series on South African soil."

On the retirement of Abraham de Villiers and Morne Morkel, Bryden have remarked: "Both players could undoubtedly have continued to perform at a high level for some time longer but both have spent long years in the pressure-cooker environment of international sport. It is a fact, too, that the pressures and pleasures of parenthood have a way of changing the priorities of sportsmen who of necessity spend lengthy periods away from home."

Seventeen pages have been devoted to the Obituaries' section. Colin Bland, who died on April 14, 2018, aged 80, "was a tall, hard-hitting right-hand batsman who averaged 49.08 in 21 Test matches for South Africa but was best known as one of the best outfielders in the history of the game. Athletic and exceptionally fit, he covered the ground at rapid speed, releasing the ball on the run with a hard, flat throw and frequently hitting the stumps, the results of hours of practice throwing at a single stump inside a hockey goal."

Grahame Chevalier, who died on November 14, 2017 was a left-arm orthodox bowler and genuine number eleven batsman, who played in a single Test against Australia at Newlands, Cape Town in January 1970. He had justified his selection by capturing 2 for 32 and 3 for 68 in South Africa's triumph by 170 runs. He was involved in the dismissal of Ian Chappell (0 & 13) in both innings. Despite his reasonable good performance, he was dropped in favour of Rhodesian off-spinner John Traicos for the remaining three Tests.

India's triumph by 63 runs in the Johannesburg Test in January 2018 has been described by the Annual as : "It was to India's credit that they adapted uncomplainingly to unsuitale conditions but it was an embarrassing episode for South African cricket, taking the gloss off a notable series win. There was no surprise and there could be no complaints when the pitch was condemned as "poor" by the International Cricket Council, with three demerit points putting the ground within two points of a one-year ban from staging 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 2018 is both pleasingly designed and reasonably priced and a priceless work of reference.

My friend, Andrew Samson, who is one of the top three cricket statisticians in the world, deserves full credit for meticulously-compiled record section, comprising South African Tests, ODIs, Twenty20 Internationals apart from first-class cricket.

ICC Under-19 World Cup and South African Women International Records also feature in this excellent Annual.

Twenty nine pages have been devoted to Who's Who 2017-18. This section includes all players who have appeared in domestic first-class cricket, domestic List A, domestic T20, international matches for South Africa, or on tours for South African teams during the 2017-18 season.

In an article, namely, Pitches Imperfect, Daniel Gallan depicts an examination of the state of pitches in South Africa and a full account of the controversies which marked the series against Australia.

Well produced, South African Cricket Annual 2018 continues to give consistently good value and will serve as a major work of reference for many years to come, and is deserving of a warm welcome. The annual is a quality prooduct from Cricket South Africa, deserving 100% marks for production, designing, formatting and lay-out of scorecards apart from extraordinary colour photographs.