Thursday, September 5, 2013

This Day in History: Sep 5, 1826: The father of The Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, John Wisden, is born


John Wisden (5 September 1826 – 5 April 1884) was an English cricketer who played 187 first-class cricket matches for three English county cricket teams, Kent, Middlesex and Sussex. He is now best known for launching the eponymous Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in 1864, the year after he retired from first-class cricket.[1]

He made his first-class debut for Sussex in 1846 aged 19 vs MCC taking 6 wickets. Initially a fast round-arm bowler, his pace slowed in later years. While bowling fast, he took on average nearly 10 wickets in each game. In 1850, playing for the South against the North at Lord's, his off-cutter technique won him 10 wickets in the second innings, all clean bowled (still the only instance of all ten wickets being taken "bowled" in any first-class match). He was no mean batsman either, against Kent at Tunbridge Wells in the same year he made 100 and in 1855 he notched up 148 against Yorkshire.

In all, he took 1,109 first-class wickets with a bowling average of 10.32 He was also a fine batsman (4,140 first-class runs with a batting average of 14.12, an average which was very good for the time).

He played almost all of his cricket in England, but he travelled with a touring team led by George Parr to Canada and the US in 1859, where eight matches in Montreal, Hoboken, Philadelphia, Hamilton and Rochester were won easily. Since 1855 Wisden had been in partnership with Fred Lillywhite, who organised the North American tour. They ran a tobacconist and sports outfitting business in London's West End, but this did not survive the trip.



He began a cricket-equipment business in Leamington Spa in 1850 and, five years later, he opened a 'cricket and cigar' shop near Leicester Square in central London. On his retirement from cricket in 1863 at the relatively early age of 37 as a result of rheumatism, Wisden started publishing his annual Cricketers' Almanack. In retirement he developed his business into a manufacturer and retailer of equipment for many sports, not just cricket. After his death the business grew into a major international sports brand, receiving a Royal Warrant in 1911 as "Athletic Outfitters to the King". The business went into receivership in 1939, and was acquired in 1943 by the Co-Operative Society who sold it on to Grays of Cambridge in 1970. Grays then ceased to the use Wisden as an equipment brand, but re-established John Wisden & Co as the publisher of the Cricketers' Almanack. It is now an imprint of Wisden's owner, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

File:Wisden 1878.jpg

Wisden died of cancer, at the age of 57, in the flat above his Cranbourn Street shop (next to Leicester Square tube station). He was buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.[2] 29 years after his death he was the subject of a "Special Portrait" in the 50th edition of Wisden, replacing the usual Cricketers of the Year feature which was dropped from that 1913 edition. In 1984 a headstone was placed at his grave to mark the centenary of his death.


Taken from: [05.09.2013]

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