Sitting on my desk at this minute is the 1970-71 edition of the New South Wales Cricket Association yearbook. The cover design features a bright orange background with the text “Cricket Year Book. 34th Edition. NSW Cricket Association. $1.40” on it, and a black-and-white action photo of Kerry O’Keeffe bowling a leg-break. By today’s standards it looks drab and tacky.
Just like the cover of the 2003 edition of the Wisden Cricketers Almanack, in fact, which is replete with a black-and-white image of Michael Vaughan against the usual bright yellow background. It has been the focus of a lot of the pre-release publicity for this year’s edition. It, too, looks drab, tacky, and sooo 1971.
I don’t usually like getting drawn into publicity stunts for book releases or the like, though to be fair I will buy the 2003 Wisden as a standard reference work as usual… but this is a cheap and worthless effort by a new editor (Tim de Lisle, who is in the chair for one year only) who talks about “the need for change” without either understanding what needs to change, nor what he should be changing to. He’s trashed a traditional and descriptive cover design (in what is inherently a traditional reference book, and successfully in terms of sales to boot), and replaced it with a style which is already about thirty years out of date.
I’ll wait until I obtain my copy of the 2003 Wisden before passing any proper judgment on the book, but this hoo-haa over the new cover suggests one of the more mindless examples of “change for change sake” by someone with no sincere sense of cricket’s culture or style. (As an aside, de Lisle was editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly at the time that I lapsed my subscription as I felt it was losing the plot – though I did resume my subscription a couple of years later and bought all the back issues that I had missed)