RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
South African Cricket Annual 2014
South African Cricket Annual 2014 Edited by Colin Bryden

Published by Cricket South Africa
PO Box 55009, Northlands 2116, South Africa

Pages: 688

South African Cricket Annual is the most respected cricket publication - the 20th under the editorship of veteran cricket writer Colin Bryden. Only the legendary Geoffrey Chettle, who edited the first 22 editions, had a longer tenure as Editor of this prestigious Annual.

The Annual is attractively laid out and logically organised apart from having superb colour photographs. What is most remarkable is that so much has been packed into a book of 688 pages.

The 688-page 2014 edition of South African Cricket Annual includes in-depth coverage of two of the most significant events that affected South African cricket in 2014.

Former teammate and coach, Gary Kirsten, pays rich tribute to Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith, two of South African greatest cricketers, who retired last season. The tribute is accompanied by a detailed statistical analysis of both players.

According to Gary Kirsten, Jacques Kallis has been the most valuable cricketer any international team could have in the modern era. "His contribution to South African cricket has been monumental. He has played a massive role in the Proteas holding a position atop in the game for many years. On many occasions, he has single-handedly brought victory to his team. He has done all this with a special humility that through his individual success he has remained just a really good team man. We have all been privileged to have watched and played alongside this great player".

Kirsten believes "Graeme Smith has fully deserved and earned the title of cricket's most experienced and successful Test captain. His leadership has taken the Proteas to great heights and his leadership example should be a case study for all interested in becoming leaders who truly inspire their people."

Quinton de Kock, who had scored three successive ODI hundreds against India in December 2013, is one of the five cricketers of the year. David Miller, Justin Ontong, Stiaan Van Zyl and Heino Kuhn are the other four who got the honour for their performances in domestic cricket.

Abraham de Villiers is named South Africa's Cricketer of the Year - the eighth cricketer to get the honour. He was also named Test Cricketer of the Year and was recognised by his peers as SA Players' Player of the Year and, by popular vote of the public, SA Fans' Cricketer of the Year.

Colin Bryden has shown his concern with regard to the restructuring of the International Cricket Council, engineered by the 'Big Three' of India, England and Australia. "The working group consisted of representatives from the 'Big Three' and they shamelessly recommended that their countries should effectively rule the world game by holding most of the top administrative positions, as well as taking most of the money."

The issue of transformation is high on the agenda in South African cricket, according to Bryden, and doubtless will remain there until a significant number of black African players emulate Makhaya Ntini by becoming regular members of the South African Test and one-day international teams.

The Annual contains the detailed and accurate record of South African cricket with match reports and scores of all major games as well as comprehensive records' section. Each and every fact has been. presented with care and attention to detail consistent with this publisher's high standards and the Annual deserves to be bought, read and pondered for the followers of the game.

My friend, Andrew Samson has deservingly been named a statistical wizard. He is one of the top three cricket statisticians in the World at present. In his editorial notes, Colin Bryden has paid a rich tribute to him: "This publication is fortunate to be able to draw on the services of Andrew Samson, Official Statistician of Cricket South Africa. The combination of Samson and Robin Isherwood, who checks meticulously every scorecard, statistic and record, is largely responsible for the reputation of the South African Cricket Annual, as an accurate, creditable record of the game in this country.

It was, therefore, cause for celebration when the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians (England) honoured Samson as Statistician and Historian of the Year for 2013."

I take this opportunity to congratulate Andrew Samson for this great honour. Recognising his outstanding work over the years, ACS, England has remarked: "Through his versatility, he has raised the standard of the media scorer/statistician to a new level: combining diligent pre-match preparation with an ability to spot the interesting and unusual, he offers statistical observations that genuinely inform the listener,adding context and insight. His work shows how statistics can be part of the story, not just a footnote to it. But, like a good umpire, he gets things right without trying to become the centre of attention. If we want the public to get a good impression of what a cricket statistician is and can do, then Andrew would be the role model."

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 2014 is both pleasingly designed and reasonably priced and a priceless work of reference.

Andrew Samson deserves full credit for meticulously-compiled records' section, comprising South African Tests, ODIs, Twenty20 Internationals apart from first-class cricket. South African Women International Records also feature in this excellent Annual.

Highly recommended, this is one Cricket Annual you do not want to be without if you love South African Cricket.