Peter Corrigan: Wit with wisdom in Wisden

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The Independent Online

It was comforting in a cold spring week to welcome that harbinger of warmer days, Wisden. The 142nd edition of the cricketers' almanack (John Wisden, £36) is bursting with enough fascinating stuff to keep you going even if it turns out to be a wet summer.

It was comforting in a cold spring week to welcome that harbinger of warmer days, Wisden. The 142nd edition of the cricketers' almanack (John Wisden, £36) is bursting with enough fascinating stuff to keep you going even if it turns out to be a wet summer.

Among the mass of intriguing views, records and unusual, if not bizarre, cricketing occurrences contained in its 1,744 pages are gems like the founding of the China Cricket Association last year. The CCA have been affiliated to the International Cricket Council, but there was a snag when the government official in charge of the game in China met members of the ICC. The government run all sports in China, and they are divided into sections. Cricket takes its place alongside other games such as tennis and hockey, and the official was introduced as the Deputy Director-General for Small Balls. Ever anxious to fit in with the rest of the world, the Chinese have changed the section's name to Multi-Sports.

The power of this revered publication is packed into its opening article, which goes by the quaint title of "Notes by the Editor". The editor is the inimitable Matthew Engel, and this deliverance of his annual verdict on the game's activities carries a telling punch from which a few of the game's most authoritative figures will be reeling.

Engel's opinion of some of cricket's governing bodies is contained under the subheading "The worst administrators in the world" and concerned mainly last year's Champions Trophy in England. He rated this one of the greatest sporting fiascos of our time, and said that the majority of the governing bodies involved "could, in varying degrees, be categorised as either incompetent, corrupt, government-controlled or racist".

One, the USA Cricket Association, have been appalling for years, and the ICC felt stung to write them a letter that Engel praises for its "vituperative splendour". The letter, sent to the president of the USACA, described the American performance in the Champions Trophy as "abysmal" and went on: "We have seen numerous sporting organisations in various states of disarray... but we have never seen one that combines such great potential and such poor administration... From our observations, much of the blame for this lies with current office-bearers of USACA, including yourself."

Lord Terry Burns began his official review of the Football Association last week. I hope someone sends him aWisden.

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