Nearly 200 years ago on 5th September 1826 one of the most influential characters in the early cricketing world was born who played a key role in archiving cricket records and history along with being a pretty decent all-round of that time himself.
John Wisden who was born on this day 193 years back was a little figure and despite his physique became a very good all-rounder of that era. Wisden was born in Brighton, Sussex and after his father’s untimely death moved to London to stay with Tom Box, the then Sussex wicketkeeper. Box helped him to grow interest in cricket and he made his debut for Sussex against Kent as a teenager. A quick round-arm bowler, Wisden could surprise people of with pace and started picking up wickets instantly. He was also a correct batsman and could play very straight. After significant success with Sussex, Wisden also played for William Clarke’s All England Eleven. In 1846 he scored a hundred against Kent which was a rare occurrence on those days.
Wisden’s greatest cricketing moment came in 1950 when in the match between North and South Wisden represented North and got a record ten wickets in the South’s second innings. Wisden was only the second player to achieve the feat and astonishingly all his ten wickets were bowled. Till now there are nearly eighty instances of bowlers taking all ten wickets in an innings but Wisden remained the only one who got all ten bowled.
In 1855 season, Wisden scored the solitary century of that season against Yorkshire. He also played a key role in forming a team of players from England for a tour of USA and Canada in 1859. By 1863 John Wisden had to retire due to his problem related to rheumatism. He finished his first-class career with 1109 wickets with an average of 10.32 and scored 4140 runs at 14.12, a pretty respectable batting average for that era.
Post-retirement, Wisden opened a shop for selling sports equipments. His other engagement was to write and publish an annual Cricketers Almanac. It was first printed in 1864 and consisted of 112 pages. Over the ages, the book grew in stature and is now considered as the Bible of cricket. It got published uninterrupted for more than 150 years in its familiar yellow cover, even during the days of great Wars. Wisden also had other books on how to play cricket and was connected to the game passionately till his death in 1884.
The Wisden Almanac also identifies the top five cricketers of the year and it is of great honour for the players who are selected for this honour. However in 1913 to celebrate the 50th year of the Almanac, no players were selected and instead only one player was chosen for the Wisden player of the year. It was John Wisden himself.