RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
The Wisden guide to International Cricket 2011
South African Cricket Annual 2019
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 250

Pages: 672

Acknowledged as one of the best publications of its type in the World, the 66th edition of South African Cricket Annual has just been launched.

The 672-page South African Cricket Annual 2019, which features South African Cricket Captain Faf du Plessis on the cover, is edited by veteran journalist and broadcaster Colin Bryden - the 25th under his editorship - a job he has been doing competently over the years.

Reeza Hendricks, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Theunis de Bruyn and Sinethemba Qeshile have been named as cricketers of the year by South African Cricket Annual. Unlike the official Cricket South Africa awards, a player can only be honoured once as a SA Cricket Annual Cricketer of the Year.

Writing about Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla, Colin Bryden, in his editorial notes, commented: "Both players would be worthy of places in an all-time South African XI. Both were majestic match-winners, Steyn for his ability to rip through the best of batting line-ups and Amla for his superb stroke play and ability to make big scores at a rate rapid enough to give the bowlers ample time to do their work."

"In this publication, Ken Borland tracks Steyn's heroic battle against injuries, which enabled him to become South Africa's all-time leading wicket-taker while Patrick Compton describes Amla's rise to become one of the world's finest batsmen. Both articles are complemented by comprehensive statistical profiles compiled by Andrew Samson, whose meticulous work is crucial to the credibility and authoritativeness of the Annual."

South Africa's Test bowling milestones is an excellent compilation. Dale Steyn's tally of 439 wickets at 22.95 runs apiece in 93 Tests, including 26 five-wicket hauls and five instances of ten wickets in a Test match, is not likely to be surpassed by a South African bowler in near future.

The 2019 edition is packed with feature articles, match reports, photographs, scores and statistics. All South Africa's international men's and women's matches and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, are covered in detail.

The 2019 World Cup campaign, according to Lungani Zama, was South Africa's worst showing at a global showpiece event. "South Africa's strategy was built around a four-pronged pace attack that would blow opposition away. Coupled with Imran Tahir's bag of tricks, the bowling was supposed to be the real strength. The injury to Dale Steyn, who never bowled a ball in the tournament, and the meek campaigns from Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi meant that the blueprint never got out of the blocks."
There are tributes to Dale Steyn by Ken Borland and Hashim Amla by Patrick Compton to mark their retirements. "So now one of the greatest bowlers the world of cricket has seen, but one who turned 36 in June, will only be seen in white-ball cricket. It is already a remarkable saga and Steyn will look to further enrich his considerable reputation playing limited-overs cricket for the Proteas", remarked Ken Borland.

As a batsman, according to Patrick Compton, Hashim Amla memorably combined grace, a wristy cutting edge and formidable powers of concentration. "Amla is the last of that golden generation of Proteas Test Cricketers who held the number one Test ranking for a total of 42 months between August 2009 and January 2016. This period came in the aftermath or included three consecutive series wins in Australia, two in England and two drawn series in India. Amla was a key part of a dominant team that was unbeaten in 15 consecutive away Test tours from 2007 until 2015. His departure, along with that of the incomparable Dale Steyn in the same week, puts the final seal on the end of an era."

Six pages have been devoted to the Obituaries' section.

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 2019 is both pleasingly designed and reasonably priced and a priceless work of reference.

My friend, Andrew Samson deserves full credit for meticulously-compiled records' section, comprising South African Tests, ODIs, Twenty20 Internationals apart from first-class cricket and South African Women International Records. Ros Brodie should be congratulated for formating the scorecards efficiently.

The feature of the Annual is its outstanding collection of photographs and pictures, taking it to another level of excellence.