Cricketana in 2006

Nice piece in today’s Wisden Almanack special on cricketana last year.

But auctions and controversy do seem to go together. In November, Christie’s auctioned what was definitely a cricket ball. It was said to be the one that Garry Sobers clobbered for the last of his six sixes in an over at Swansea in 1968. But how do we know it was that ball?

Christie’s had done a great deal of research. A 17-year-old spectator, Richard Lewis, searched for the ball as he was leaving the ground and found it in the gutter. The ball was handed back to Sobers and was believed to have been destined for the Trent Bridge Museum. But it never got there. For a time it was on display in one of the bars there, then supporters’ club secretary Josie Miller popped it in her make-up drawer for safe keeping. The ball arrived at Christie’s with a certificate of provenance signed by Sobers. But some players from the match say Stuart Surridge balls were in use. This was a Dukes. On the other hand, at least two balls were used in that over, so the replacement could have been a different make. Whatever, it made £22,000.

With relief, one can report there were no arguments at all about the burr walnut Victorian kidney-shaped pedestal desk sold by Bonham’s in March for £54,000 to an anonymous bidder. Barry Johnston, son of Brian, has fond memories of his father sitting at the desk in his study.

“Every morning, he would religiously sit at this desk and sort through his post,” he recalled. “He would receive countless letters from cricket fans and people asking him to open fêtes and so on, and he would scribble replies on the back of Donald McGill’s saucy seaside postcards – whether it was to a cricket fan or a bishop.”

There are always a host of really interesting, different, offbeat articles in the Almanack and we’ll be putting one up each week in its usual Sunday slot. Of course, you really ought to just go and buy it as well.

Wisden advertising in the 1800s

Marquees

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.

Tim de Lisle’s Ashes blog

Tim de Lisle, a former editor of The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and columnist for Cricinfo and The Times, is blogging for us at Cricinfo. I’ve been franticly trying to get it ready for Monday and it’s just about ready to rock.

Tim will be writing about the build-up to this winter’s Ashes – and of the series itself, I hope. Should be great so check it out.

The helmet: sensible adjunct or well-marketed gimmick?

Sensible adjunct or well-marketed gimmick?

That was the headline in the 1981 edition of The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. It’s archive day at Cricinfo, when we pick an essay from a previous edition. This week, it’s Trevor Bailey on the helmet – a piece of equipment now part of every cricket bag, even in schools I bet.

Read it here.

Chronicle of 2005

If you hadn’t noticed, and damn you to the pavilion and back if you’re guilty, each Sunday we put up an essay or article from the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. This week’s is a Chronicle of 2005, as reported by the media. There are some good’uns worth a read.

Osmanless in England

We were hoping and expecting to have Osman Samiuddin, Cricinfo’s Pakistan editor, over here for their tour of England. But the visa people, in their utter ignorance and stupidity, have for whatever reason denied him entry (or it’s been delayed, or whatever). Ridiculous. Sid’s covering for him instead. In the meantime, have a read of an article Osman wrote for this year’s Almanack about the significance of religion in Pakistani cricket, which I mentioned earlier.

London derby last year

Almost 12 months to the day, Middlesex hosted Surrey at Lord’s for the traditional London derby. Coincidentally, it was at that game that my now editor asked me to provide him a short verdict (or rather, what I now realise is a verdict) which was to form part of my interview with Cricinfo.

12 months on and the blog is featured in Wisden, and at Cricinfo. Funny ol’ world.

The Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2006

Wisden Cricketers' AlmanackThe Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2006 launches tomorrow. I caught up with the editor, Matthew Engel, and you can read my mumblings at Cricinfo. We can also exclusively reveal the five Cricketers of the Year:

Andrew Flintoff was named Leading Cricketer in the World for 2005.

It’s also an exciting time for Cricinfo. After nearly four years of work, involving countless people, we have launched the Almanack online. This means you can search for any Wisden match report, article or obituary from 1864 – 2006! Pretty cool we hope you agree.