The Wisden India Almanack the original almanack is now 150 years old is for both the curious and the world-weary, for the cricket fanatic as well as the dabbler, for the schoolboy as well as the nostalgia hound.
By beating Australia 4-0 at home and winning the Champions Trophy in England, India ensured that the story of on-field achievements would nose ahead of the off-field spot fixing conspiracies in the period covered by this edition. The other big news, the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar has a special section all to itself.
Justice Mukul Mudgal, later appointed to head the commission to investigate the spot fixing, suggests in his essay here that betting should be legalized in India. Dileep Premachandran writes that things didnt happen overnight; India were undone by the curse of denial. Novelist Manu Joseph recalls his time as a reporter sent to trick an official into confessing his involvement with fixing.
The emphasis, as in the first edition, is on the well-written, the quirky, the argumentative, the personal. There is too a section on cricket in fiction, which includes a play by Tariq Ali, activist, author and cricket nut. Siddhartha Vaidyanathans interrupted circadian rhythms when international cricket is played is a story familiar to many; less so is the argument by Rahul Bhattacharya on the DRS that bad decisions dont matter much. Of course, they make a difference. But thats not the same as them mattering.
It might be the story of BK Garudachar, 97, an all rounder who played with CK Nayudu and who reels off verses in Sanskrit or hums classical music. It might be the story of one of the Six Cricketers of the Year or the two players inducted into the Hall of Fame. It might be Ed Smiths tribute to former England captain Andrew Strauss or Osman Samiuddins recreation of Pakistans first win in England 60 years ago.
As the Ranji Trophy turns 80, there are two stories of the Nearly Men. One, is about BB Nimbalkar, the only Indian to have made a quadruple century in first class cricket. He wasnt allowed to overtake Don Bradman. Nor was he ever picked for India.
For those who prefer a dash of investigative journalism to go with their statistics and essays, there is the story of why some Rajasthan Royals players carried a pink doll (named Pinky) with them to the cricket ground, the team bus, and even to parties.
Edited by: Suresh Menon
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