Wisden advertising in the 1800s


Although its primary role is to document cricket, the early editions of The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack have become a fascinating time machine into society in the 19th century. There are a whole bunch of advertisements in the late 1800s, offering various questionable concoctions to improve your health; Naturalists guns; Carry-All Fishing Baskets; Marquees (as used by Oxford and Cambridge!); false knee caps “made of finest plated steel wire, meshed so as to contract and expand with the movement of the knee.” You name it, Wisden advertised it.

Click here to see one I scanned for this brilliant article in the 1992 Almanack. Benjamin Edgington’s marquees, on Duke Street (roughly Borough High Street as it is today). You need to register (no bad thing anyway) to read it, but it’s worth doing. There are some absolute gems in there.

And by the by, Thomas Williams was indicted for stealing 40 yards of Edgington’s canvas on February 2, 1833, and transported to Australia for seven years. So now you know.

The slippery slope of commercialisation

It’s everywhere. Everyone sponsors each other. Even the sponsors have their own advertorials. The sponsors are sponsored by other sponsors. It’s another apparently necessary evil of this world.

Cricket has been victim of it for some time but has remained relatively untarnished as a result, until today with the news that Australia has struck a deal with Commonwealth Bank who have secured naming rights for their one-day team. England v Australia in a one-day match is now the stuff of history: read England v Commonwealth Bank Australia.

There are two problems with this. Firstly, it is entirely unnecessary of Cricket Australia who have now surely leap-frogged the BCCI in the Most Greedy Cricket Board league. CA have pots of cash. Sponsorship is one thing; naming rights is new, dirty territory and there can be no other reason than sheer financial greed. Secondly it sets a precedent. How long before other teams follow suit? How long before counties in England are renamed after their own sponsors or, worse, Test sides are named after their richest benefactors?

There is an irony, though. The very definition of commonwealth is just that: a “body politic,” or a government/organisation formed by the consent of the public. Does CA really expect their patriotic fans to agree to this? The old song and chant “Come on Aussie come on!” won’t have quite the same ring to it (“Come on Commonwealth Bank Australia, come on!”).


Corporate monsters couldn’t give a Fourex

Couldn't give a fourex
Australia’s chief selector, scourge of Poms and all-round good guy Allan Border has been forced to resign his post as chairman of selectors because of a ‘conflict of interest’ involving beer sponsorship. I am not making this up.

The former Test captain recently fronted advertisements for XXXX Gold, owned by Lion Nathan, which is sponsoring beach cricket this summer in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Perth. Border will represent Australia in the tournament, alongside greats such as Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Dean Jones.

That, however, does not impress Foster’s, a major sponsor of cricket. It recently announced a new deal with Cricket Australia, in which it would no longer be the naming rights sponsor of the triangular one-day series, but increase its commercial involvement at grassroots level.

Geoff Donohue, corporate affairs spokesman for Foster’s, said the XXXX campaign involving Border was little more than ambush marketing.

“We think ambush marketing is fairly un-Australian,” he said. “I will leave you to decide whether what they are doing with their current advertising campaigns is ambush marketing.

“I guess Allan has [resigned as a national selector] in pursuit of his own commercial interests. But we are thrilled with our association with Cricket Australia and the Australian cricket team, and we’re more than happy with the access we have to the current players.”

If you are that thrilled to be associated with Cricket Australia, then I’m sure you won’t be that miffed with Allan Border continuing his association with the XXXX brand that has been ongoing for the past twenty years.

Fosters: couldn’t give a fourex about, well, anyone.

Buy this great new product!

Adam Gilchrist is very clever!

A number of Australia’s senior players were understood to have agreed to the prank as a one-off on the second day of the first Test against Bangladesh, to hit broadcasters in the hip pocket.

Television executives do not take kindly to free on-air advertising, and it was a clever tactic of Gilchrist to name team sponsors.

He was overhead saying “Get one for the boys at Travelex” or “Phone home on 3 Mobile” during play.

But the most clearly audible plug was heard after Andrew Symonds, nicknamed Roy, fired in a throw.

“That’s the one, Roy,” Gilchrist enthused.

“Plenty of energy … from a … Milo energy bar.”

A Cricket Australia spokesman said the players had concerns over the volume of stump mikes.

“It is the second Test in a row that (Australia) team manager Steve Bernard has requested the International Cricket Council match referee to ensure the international protocol of stump mikes are turned down when the ball is dead, and only turned back up when the bowler is at his run-up,” he said.

That is a clever tactic by Gilchrist to force the hand of television broadcasters. It would be nice to think that what is said on the field is all good clean stuff, but sadly this is not so, and probably never was so. International Cricket has always been played at a fairly intense level.