RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
South African Cricket Annual 2015
South African Cricket Annual 2015 Edited by Colin Bryden, Statistics by Andrew Samson.

Publisher: Cricket South Africa
PO Box 55009, Northlands 2116,
South Africa

Pages 688

Price South African Rands 200

South African Cricket Annual 2015 is an outstanding publication, a well-illustrated volume and would make a superb present for a cricket lover of any age and grace any bookshelf.

The present edition is the 21st 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.

David Wiese, Rilee Rossouw, Kagiso Rabada, Stephen Cook and Temba Bavuma have been named as Five Cricketers of the Year. Players can only be honoured once in their careers.

Neil McKenzie and Jacques Rudolph announced their decisions to retire from first-class cricket in South Africa after the 2014-15 season. Both have been profiled by Ken Borland in his piece, namely, Two Stalwarts Bow Out.

Clive Rice, who passed away in July at the age of 66, has been paid a rich tribute by Colin Bryden: "Clive Rice was indeed a fine cricketer, which is borne out by his statistics - a first-class batting average of 40.95 and a bowling average of 22.49, sustained over a career which lasted for 24 years. He was that rare epitome of a genuine all-rounder, an automatic choice for almost any team as a determined, hard-hitting batsman, who stood belligerently at the crease with bat raised before the ball was delivered, or as a bowler who in his prime was as fast as anyone in South Africa, with a feared bouncer.

More than is revealed by the figures, however, Rice was a giant of the game in both South Africa and England. He was a pioneer of professionalism in terms of attitude and, in South Africa, in fact."

The Proteas remained the number one Test team in the World, although in a World Cup year, only five Test matches were played during the period covered by this Annual, remarked Bryden in his editorial notes. "Under the captaincy of Hashim Amla, the Test side has sailed on serenely despite the retirements of major players such as Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher and Alviro Petersen but tougher challenges lie ahead."

Bryden says such is the nature of modern cricket that in a World Cup year, the global event overshadows everything else. Thus it was that another case of "so near, yet so far" for the Proteas dominated public consciousness.

The Obituaries' section features, Clive Rice, Norman Gordon, Abdul Haque Patel and a few others.

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.

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 has become indispensable to followers of South African cricket. It is an essential purchase for any cricket enthusiast.

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 2015 is both pleasingly designed and reasonably priced and a priceless work of reference.