(that any collector should/would like to have)
There are a number of years that contain information and the details of cricket seasons’ or personalities that make them ‘would love to have’ editions. Rather than bore the pants off non-collectors, I will give a brief explanation as to why the following are particularly desirable.
- 1896: The 1896 Wisden contains the full career to date of the great W.G. Grace.
- 1916: This edition contains the obituary and full career details for W.G. Grace, the father of cricket, along with over 30 pages of obituaries of cricketers and cricket-folk who died during the early years of World War One.
- 1934: The 1934 Wisden contains the full details of the Australia v England Test series of 1932-33. Unarguably the most discussed and the most controversial Test match series ever played. Referred to as the “Bodyline “series the 1934 almanack covers it in exceptional depth. During the series, the disgust felt by the Australian team and nation towards the England team for its tactics resulted in both governments exchanging telegrams…nowadays we would call it a ‘diplomatic incident.’
- 1940: The review of the 1939 is poignant. Some of the final games of the season took place as Great Britain declared war on Germany. The editorial is reflective. Sadly, some of the cricketers who appeared in the final matches of the 1939 season did not return from the war.
- 1949: In 1948 Australia toured England. One of the greatest players to have ever walked onto a cricket field was Australian, Don (later, Sir) Bradman. He was a glorious batsman. The 1948 tour of England was to include his last ever Test match. The Australians who toured in 1948 became known as ‘The Invincibles.” In total, they played 34 matches on the tour, winning 25 and drawing 9. Bradman had scored 6,996 runs in 80 Test innings’ and if he had scored four or more in his last appearance against England at the Oval in August he would have averaged 100 in Test Match cricket…have a look on Page 253 to see if he managed it.
- 1957: England and Surrey bowler Jim Laker took 19 Australian wickets in the Old Trafford Test match in July 1956. The most astonishing bowling performance of the modern era.
- 1963: The 100th edition of Wisden. Articles and reminiscences galore in what was, up to 1963, the biggest single edition of the almanack, with 1200+ pages.
- 1965: In 1965 Wisden introduced a yellow removable dust jacket that the hardback edition came within. Since the first Wisden hardback edition was produced in 1896 it had not had a jacket. Finding 1965 editions with very good quality original yellow dust jackets can be tricky.
- 1971: In 1970 England were due to entertain South Africa in a Test series. The tour was cancelled and so began South Africa’s exclusion from world sport owing to its governments apartheid policy. In 1970, at the eleventh hour, a Rest of The World team was brought together to play England. The first time the world’s best had been assembled in such a way and the full details of the matches against England are recorded in the 1971.
- 1982: During 1981, Australia toured England and Ian Botham began the season as England captain. England lost the first Test and drew the second and Botham resigned. His form had been horrific, including a duck in the second innings of the second (drawn) Test. In the next three Test matches he transformed the entire series and legends were made. Over a hundred cricket books have been written about the 1981 season, but it is Wisden that perfectly records the drama.
- 2006: In 2005 England and Australia squared up against each other in another exhilarating contest. Generally believed to be one of the most intense and exciting series of matches in the entire history of the game, Wisden devoted more pages and more analysis to it than ever before.
- 2013: The 150th edition of Wisden. A staggeringly good read. The articles alone are worthy of a separate book.
Every edition is unique and each almanack has a special resonance for a collector, the ones above are just a selection that should be included in any collection.