No 15: Playfair Cricket Annual

Boys love stats. Ask any lad of about 11 and he will probably be able to recount an amazing level of detail about his chosen sport, or video game.

With every ball of almost every game now logged somewhere in the ether, you can pretty much find the economy rate of Mitch Claydon on dry pitches whilst bowling into uphill, into the wind and round the wicket at left-handers at the touch of a button.

Before Mr Berners-Lee enabled us to instantly find out the par score for sides batting first in Twenty20 games at New Road, pre-pubescent males had to seek out alternative sources to slake their statistical thirst.

The cost (and weight) of the Wisden annual being prohibitive in my younger days, the pocket sized (and, crucially, pocket money-sized) Playfair Cricket Annual proved a must-have.

Where else could I find out the career stats of Leicestershire stalwart Mike Norman? Perhaps I should more accurately say Michael Eric John Charles Norman – a piece of information I will remember for life.

In the 1990s, I along with others gazed with awe at the full name of Chaminda Vaas, but it was tinged with sadness as he broke Mike’s “most forenames” record.

For years I knew the initials of every first class player, and could recite the actual names for 90 per cent of them. I sniggered at Gordon Greenidge’s first name being Cuthbert. I entered into heated arguments about which was faster RMF or RFM, or shook my head in disbelief that girls didn’t find the fact that Derek Pringle’s Dad played for East Africa in the 1975 World Cup fascinating.

It is with a sense of warmth (and no little surprise) that I find it is still on sale to this day, still appropriately sized, and also appropriately priced.


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