For those of you not in the know, Wisden is the Bible of cricket – except about twice as thick as most versions of the actual Bible. And about five times the price. But it is pretty essential reading for any serious follower of the game.
The first edition which I ever owned was the 1979 one. It was a Christmas present and I read it from cover to cover. I had by that time developed a keen interest in the game and the first match that I ever went to – at Hove, Sussex v Middlesex in the Sunday League – had been in 1979. Despite the disappointment of the scorecard not appearing in Wisden (for some reason they didn’t carry all of the one day match scorecards in those days) I loved that book and would regularly dip into it over the years that followed.
Despite this, the next one I bought was in 1997. As I mentioned, it is an expensive work and during the intervening years I simply couldn’t afford it. That I read it from cover to cover annoyed the heck out of Helen and bemused my parents, especially when I took it on a three week holiday to Vancouver.
For the next ten years I bought every copy and read it avidly. Then I had a child and ran out of time for such dedicated reading.
I might have to change that now, though. Because Wisden has just appointed a new editor and, to my surprise, I know him. His name is Lawrence Booth, and I first met him on a momentous evening back in 2007, an evening upon which I also accidentally introduced two other people to each other – two people who are now engaged to be married.
Lawrence combines being a fine writer with being a thoroughly warm and generous person, qualities which are not always guaranteed in a journalist. And for a journalist he is also exceptionally good humoured and well dressed. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the honour of editing the world’s most famous cricket book, and I am proud to say that I know him.
That said, I do wonder at the strange twists that my life has taken and which have led me to the point where I know the editor of my favourite book.