RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2018
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2018
Edited by Lawrence Booth, Co-editor: Hugh Chevallier, Deputy Editors: Steven Lynch and Harriet Monkhouse, Consultant publisher: Christopher Lane

Published by:
John Wisden & Co.
an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
50 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3DP, UK

Available in India from Bloomsbury Publishing India Pvt. Ltd.
Vasant Kunj, New Delhi - 110070

Website: www.wisdenalmanack.com, www.wisdenrecords.com

ISBN 9781472953544
Pages: 1491
Price: Rs.1999/-

The 155th edition of the most famous sports book in the world and long-lived cricket world's bible, in its familiar yellow and brown cover and with all the usual indispensable features, is out.

Three of the Five Cricketers of the Year are female, with Anya Shrubsole, Natalie Sciver and Heather Knight joined by Shai Hope and Jamie Porter.

In the Notes by the Editor, Lawrence Booth urges the ECB not to take the Ashes for granted. He says England's Test team are already going backwards overseas. "Too many games at the wrong time of year will only hasten the process. By the end of the Ashes, they had taken 20 wickets just once in ten Tests abroad - at Visakhapatnam, where India, momentarily stunned, won easily. That sequence includes the highest total they have ever conceded, plus two of their three highest in Australia. Not since the first decade of the 20th century have they lost four Tests on successive tours; back then they even won a game or two. This was a new low."

Competently edited by Lawrence Booth, this year's edition includes another shift of emphasis according to him. "A new section, Part Six, covers overseas domestic Twenty20 cricket, a form of the game which may not be to everyone's taste but is now a fixture on the menu. It seemed the natural moment to start an award for the Leading Twenty20 Cricketer in the World: the first winner is Afghanistan Leg-spinner Rashid Khan."

Simon Wilde, who had reported on 245 of England's Tests by the end of the 2017-18 Ashes series, as cricket correspondent of The Sunday Times, reflects on the England's men path to their 1,000th Test. He says the poser is how many more Tests England will play in a world obsessed with Twenty20.

Jon Hotten, the author of The Meaning of Cricket, has written an interesting piece on Hat-tricks. The writer says, Merv Hughes' hat-trick against West Indies at Perth in 1988-89 was so complex, he didn't realise it had happened. He dismissed Curtly Ambrose with the last ball of one over, and Patrick Patterson with the first ball of his next, ending West Indies' first innings and then trapped Gordon Greenidge with his first ball in the second.

In his article, namely, Numerical duckling to statistical swan, Andy Zaltzman has analysed James Anderson's Test career, who had completed 500 wickets last year. "Anderson's Test record tells a tale of transformation, endurance and skill. A numerically ugly duckling has mutated into a beautiful statistical swan - one of the best bowlers of all time in English conditions and, during the first half of this decade, one of the best of his generation anywhere."

Virat Kohli is the second player to be selected as Wisden's Leading Cricketer in the World in consecutive years - 2016 & 2017, after Virender Sehwag in 2008 & 2009. While profiling him, Suresh Menon has remarked: "The finest all-round batsman of the year is, in his heart, an old-fashioned Test player, conscious of the sport's folklore, and his role in keeping the format alive. There is no contradiction in his energetic and innovative displays in white-ball cricket. In the 50-over format, he is the finest chaser in history: by the end of 2017, he averaged 93 when India won batting second, with 17 centuries. His 32 hundreds overall were topped only by Tendulkar's 49. Both have scored more centuries than their age, like golfers carding a round in fewer strokes than theirs. And in Twenty20 Internationals, Kohli has extended the limits of the possible by scoring at 137 per 100 balls, without any apparent strain or ugly strokeplay."

India's Mithali Raj is the Leading Woman Cricketer in the World in 2017.

Forty four pages have been devoted to the Obituaries section. In a three-page piece, Don Shepherd has been paid an excellent tribute: "Shepherd accumulated a vast store of knowledge, and knew exactly how to adjust his length and pace to exploit any batsman's weaknesses. Eifion Jones, one of Glamorgan's wicketkeepers always stood a few yards back: "He had so much variation - slower balls, quicker balls, straight balls, a variety of things up his sleeve and so accurate at all times."

While bowling in tandem, James Anderson (424) and Stuart Broad (371) have captured 795 wickets in 104 Tests. They are on the verge of becoming the first fast-bowling pair to race to 800 wickets. Mike Selvey has remarked: "Broad and Anderson, Curtly and Courtney: the names fit together like sausage and mash, or gin and tonic. It is how followers of the game like to view bowlers, as a collective rather than individuals, singularly brilliant though they may be (only opening batsmen are accorded the same co-operative status).

A Clear Blue Sky by Jonny Bairstow and Duncan Hamilton has been adjudged as Wisden Book of the Year. Cricket books, released in 2017, have been reviewed by Kamila Shamsie, a novelist.

In a Crime and Punishment section - ICC Code of Conduct - Breaches and Penalties in 2016-17 to 2017-18, Bangladesh's Tamim Iqbal figures twice - once each vs Sri Lanka and Australia.

The text is adorned with some superb colour photographs. A lavish production, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2018 provides all the facts and figures of a year, meticulously compiled by Philip Bailey.

Many happy hours can be spent absorbing the endless data.

Despite its price tag of Sterling Pounds 55, it is a must for cricket enthusiasts. For Indian cricket lovers, the Almanack (hard cover) is available for Rs.1,999/-.