Ask any cricket follower about the most important book in the game, and it is a fair chance that their answer will be “Wisden.” Started by John Wisden in 1863, the Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack has been an annual publication that covers cricket played in different lands, provides opinions on key issues affecting the game and often selects the best cricketers of the year. It has a definite pro-UK bias in terms of coverage but that has not stopped it from being hailed by many as “the Bible of cricket.” In fact, many cricket followers carry a copy of Wisden with them in lieu of a book of cricket rules – Wisden is simply considered to have everything that a cricket follower or fan needs.
Now imagine if you could get an early edition of Wisden – going all the way back to 1870 – free of cost?
Well, yes, a scanned edition of John Wisden’s Cricketer’s Almanack – as it was then called – is available for free viewing on Google Play. It comprises scanned pages and is not the cleanest job we have seen, but hey, the copy is all there. And the very first match report contains the name of one of the game’s immortals and perhaps its first real superstar – WG Grace.
Yes, it is not slickly presented. There are no HTML linked contents and going through it page by page will test your patience from time to time. And yes, at a mere 172 pages, it is a far cry from the massive tome that its modern counterpart is. But for those who really love cricket, this is indeed an amazing gift from Wisden. You can read John Wisden’s Cricketer’s Almanack for 1870 here.