Sometimes I buy me a book. Not too often, for in the past I have bought so much books they don’t fit in my room anymore. But since buying a book is cheaper than buying a new room, every once in a while I buy me a book, but not too often.

Luckily there are small books. Although these books tend to be a bit thicker, they fit into the small gaps left on the shelves. One of those is Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. Small, yellow, 1200 pages. The edition I now have is the 133rd, and every year there is a new one. Every edition contains facts and details of the previous cricket year. Not every ball bowled in the world is in there, but many of them are.

Is this fun, a book filled with statistics? The Yellow Pages are cheaper, in fact they’re for free. But the Yellow Pages are far more bulky, one volume easily covers four editions of Wisden. And the Yellow Pages are far less interesting, containing only names, addresses and numbers. You can find that in Wisden too, plus a lot of other information. The number of balls player X had to take on, how many times he hit the boundary, how many minutes he was in the field and how he left it. And the number of runs, of course, for even in cricket it is runs that count.

And, yes, this is fun. I can leaf through it for hours, compare things, leaf back again… You’re not impressed, I can tell. Maybe you’d better not buy this book. Maybe you’d better not watch cricket at all. But maybe you ought to look at the world’s biggest cricket internet site: CricInfo. You never know, that’s how I started. In front of a tv-set, thinking: ‘is this fun?…’

While I’m at it, I’d best try and kill some myths. The Dutch think strange things…

  • Test matches are not training matches, but international matches. The word(s) test (match) are also applied to rugby matches. There are nine countries with test status, and the Netherlands is not one of them.
  • Cricket matches are not the longest lasting sports events. The Tour de France, to name but one, takes about four to five times as much time. A cricket player takes to the field for some six hours a day, which is about the amount of time spent in the saddle by a racer in the Tour.
  • The Laws of Cricket are not very difficult. You need to know a few rules to follow the game. It is true that cricket has a lot of little rules that apply only once in a lifetime but are talked about every day.
  • Cricket commentators do not speak a secret language. They do speak jargon, which might impress the lay man. But many things in cricket have a name: fielding positions, certain bowling actions, even some scores. For real secret language you should read a bridge magazine.
  • Cricket is not an elite sport, outside the Netherlands. In many countries cricket matches do just as well as soccer matches, only the crowds behave—well, not even that nowadays…


This text was previously published in the Vakidioot, volume 2 (1996/97)

© Roelof Ruules