Wisden Cricketers' Almanack , or simply Wisden , colloquially the Bible of Cricket , is a cricket reference book published annually in the United Kingdom.
In , an Australian edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack was launched. It ran for eight editions.
In , an Indian edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack was launched dated , entitled Wisden India Almanack ,  that has been edited by Suresh Menon since its inception. The sixth edition was the first published under its current title; the first five were published as The Cricketer 's Almanack , with the apostrophe before the "s".
Wisden was acquired and published by Robert Maxwell 's publishing conglomerate, Macdonald, in the s. The company presented the Wisden Trophy , for Test matches between England and West Indies , in to celebrate its th edition. Wisden is a small-paged but a very thick book over 1, pages in modern editions with a distinctive bright yellow cover that it has carried since the 75th edition in Prior to that, covers varied between yellow, buff and salmon pink.
That edition was also the first to display the famous woodcut of two cricketers, by Eric Ravilious ,  on its cover.
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It is published each April, just before the start of the English domestic cricket season. Since the woodcut has been replaced as the main feature of the front cover by a photograph of a current cricketer, but still appears albeit in a much reduced size. It is produced in both hardcover and softcover versions.
Since , a larger format edition has been published on an experimental basis. This is said to be in response to requests from readers who find the print size of the standard edition hard to read. It is around twice the traditional size and was published in a limited edition of 5, It is not a large print book as such, as the print will still be of a size found in many standard books.
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From an Epub version, The Shorter Wisden , has been available in online bookstores. Described by the publishers as a "distillation of what's best in its bigger brother", it includes the Notes by the Editor, all the articles, reviews and obituaries and the reports on all England's Test matches for the year in question.
Excluded are the statistics and other cricket reports contained within the Almanack proper. The format has changed markedly over the years. The first edition had only pages yet found space to cover the dates of battles in the English Civil War , the winners of The Oaks and the rules of quoiting.
Around a hundred pages of articles on cricketing topics, including the introductory "Notes by the Editor", which address often controversial cricket issues and always provoke discussion in the cricketing world.
The traditional Wisden Cricketers of the Year awards, which date back to , and the Wisden Leading Cricketer of the World award, started in Traditionally the main source for key statistics about the game, although it has never attempted to be comprehensive. Nowadays the records section is intended to be complementary to the much more detailed data available online at Wisden ' s associated website ESPNcricinfo.
By far the largest section of the book. Hugely detailed coverage, including scorecards of every First class game played in the previous English summer, and summaries of minor counties , second eleven, university, school and premier club cricket , as well as the Village Cup.
Full coverage of all international cricket and brief coverage of domestic first class cricket outside England.
This short section, 80 pages in the edition, has information about and addresses of official cricket bodies as well as the full laws of cricket , together with appendices. There are also details of meetings held by official bodies, including their major decisions, as well as articles about the Duckworth—Lewis method and Powerplays. The laws have been omitted from the most recent editions. This section includes the Chronicle noteworthy events from the previous year , reviews of other cricket books published in the year, noteworthy retirements and the highly regarded obituaries section among others.
John Arlott wrote the Books section from its inception in the edition until the edition, just before he died.
Beginning with the edition the Books section has been written by a different person each year, often someone "with a literary reputation first and a separate enthusiasm for cricket". Carr , and others have included Sebastian Faulks and Leslie Thomas An award for the Wisden Book of the Year was inaugurated in the edition.
The winners have been:. This section contains fixtures for the forthcoming international and English domestic season, the international schedule for the upcoming seven years and the Index of Unusual Occurrences featuring quirky cricketing stories.
A selection from recent years includes: Rabbit burns down pavilion; Hot-air balloons stop play; Cricketers arrested for dancing naked; Fine leg arrives by parachute; Fried calamari stopped play; Umpire locked in ground overnight.. Booth's deputy, promoted to the role of co-editor, is Hugh Chevallier. Wisden has had a large number of contributors.
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The majority involve match reports for the various fixtures recorded each year, but also biographies, reviews and opinion. Many great cricket writers have written for Wisden , along with many great cricketers. Neville Cardus contributed many notable essays and for many years John Arlott was responsible for the book reviews. Since with the occasional exception Wisden has honoured five cricketers for their outstanding achievements over the previous year.
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Further details, with a full list of recipients of the award, can be found at Wisden Cricketers of the Year. An index from onwards is available in pdf form on the Wisden web site. For the first 32 years of its existence the Almanack was only published in softback form, in a paper cover that varied in colour through the years between shades of pink, yellow and buff.
From the 33rd edition onwards hardback copies became available at twice the price of the softback. In the Almanack published its first photoplate, commissioned to accompany the Editor's nomination of six great Bowlers of the Year.
From then on a photoplate appeared each year up to and including The plates were attached to an un-numbered page in the Almanack and had a tissue protector. They continued to show a number of selected players of the year except in , when W G Grace was the only subject, and in , when the 50th edition published no selections but celebrated John Wisden himself.
After a two-year hiatus during World War 1 the plate reappeared in , but as a mechanically printed image depicting five School Bowlers of the Year. The image in the edition continued to reflect wartime exigencies with its five Public School Cricketers of the Year before normal service resumed in with five Batsmen of the Year.
From then on, with four exceptions see Wisden Cricketers of the Year , the norm was to include an image of five Cricketers of the Year. It was not until that other photographs were introduced.
From to the softback editions of the Almanack contained a cricket bat bookmark attached by the blade to the inside of the spine with yellow string.
The bat handle of the bookmark is easily lost and softbacks with entirely intact bookmarks command a price premium. In the Almanack underwent some significant style, design and material changes under the supervision of Robert Henry Harling.
A yellow linen cover featuring the iconic woodcut by Eric Ravilious replaced the paper wrapper of the softback edition — a reason why softbacks from this time onwards are often referred to as "linens" even though they changed to a cloth-effect card binding in The design of the softback from onwards is probably the one most associated with the word "Wisden" in the mind of the general public. There was a change to the orientation of the gilt lettering on the spines of hardbacks from to This was probably required by, and then a relict of, the slimness of the volumes published during World War 2.
Excepting the centenary softback, the external appearance of both types of the Almanack then remained substantially unchanged until when the hardback was issued with a dust jacket. This was printed on yellow paper with the same design as the softback, giving a uniformity of appearance to both formats.
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Between and the woodcut and text elements of the softback covers and the hardback dust jackets were printed in a variety of colours before reverting to black on yellow from onwards. Since that time some other changes have occurred to the style, design and materials:.
Minor changes of style have taken place throughout the Almanack ' s history, and are documented in a collector's guide that was updated and reprinted in Due to their rarity the early editions of Wisden , and editions published during the two World Wars, are rare and expensive.
However, every edition up to is also available in facsimile form. Approximately softback copies were produced of each year from to and made available either as part of a set or as singles. The facsimiles are clearly marked with an entry in capital letters at the bottom of the title page: "Facsimile edition made and printed in Great Britain by Billing and Sons Ltd.
Lowe and Brydone produced another print run of the first 15 years in The run was limited again to softback sets. These facsimiles are marked with an entry in capital letters at the bottom of the title page: "Second facsimile edition made and printed in Great Britain by Lowe and Brydone Printers Limited". This again comprised editions from to inclusive and was limited to sets. X of " — on the back.
In recent years a more extensive range of facsimiles has been produced by the Willows Publishing Company Ltd. As of early , softback and hardback editions up to and including have been published.
Like the Wisden facsimile set, the Willows softback facsimiles up to are hardbound, in tan cloth with gilt embossing, but from onwards they are true facsimiles with yellow linen covers. The hardback editions are also true facsimiles, with dark brown covers upon which the original gilt embossing is reproduced. Internally all Willows editions are identified as reprints at the base of the title page and limited edition numbers, where applicable, are also marked on the binding or cover.
The Willows facsimile contains the correct advertisement, for a book on Oxford and Cambridge cricket matches from to This is not a true facsimile as the back cover does not reproduce the "List of Articles" of the original, but instead on the inside there is an advertisement for Wisden reprints from the Willows Publishing Company and on the back a celebration of years of Wisden.
Printed and bound by MPG Books. Facsimile dust jackets are available for editions of Wisden from to to replace those that have been lost or damaged. Supplied by Wisden ' s "official dust jacket supplier", these jackets are laminated and are printed in black on yellow unlike the original jackets issued with the editions from to that incorporated colour elements.
The same supplier offers traditional design dust jackets for editions from to Although these mimic the appearance of the softback covers they are not true facsimiles as the original hardback editions were never issued with dust jackets. On 1st December Willows Publishing sold all their remaining stock of circa books to www.
The size of Wisden print runs is of considerable interest to collectors as rarity has a very strong influence on the value of individual editions. The most reliable, or rather most widely quoted, source of information on print runs is an article by Leslie Gutteridge titled "A History of Wisden " published in the Almanack.
Despite the lack of early records Gutteridge notes that editions from to , except and , ran to two impressions the word "impression" rather than "edition" is used throughout this section to avoid confusion with Wisden's use of "edition" in the book's title. He also notes in passing the rarity of the edition, though "not After he notes that numbers diminished, although at the time he wrote the article sales of the softback and hardback editions were still 11, and 10, respectively.
It is likely that these figures were greatly exceeded in the centenary year as the edition ran to three impressions. In more recent years sales of the edition exceeded 50, in total.