In any other circumstance, laying claim to having bowled all ten batsmen in an innings would be plenty of reason to push a cricketer into the pantheon of the game's history. But in the case of one particular gentleman, his biggest contribution to the sport was a book. That man was John Wisden, and the book, the famous Wisden Cricketer's Almanack.
Today, 187 years ago, on September 5, 1826, John Wisden was born in Brighton, Sussex. A keen cricketer, he was once termed by Fuller Pilch, the greatest batsman ever known until the appearance of WG Grace, as the finest allrounder of his day. Wisden's ten bowled dismissals in an innings came for North against South in 1850, but it was the almanack he published in 1864 that earned him worldwide recognition. It happened the year after he retired from first-class cricket and the WAC has appeared every year since and is regarded as the bible for cricket followers.
The first edition of the almanack consisted of 112 pages and detailed the 1863 cricket season, but also listed abstruse canals and winners of the English Derby. History reveals that there were three or four similar books at the time, but the WAC is the only publication that stood the test of time. Even today it has cult status. The famous canary yellow cover is recognised the world over, and hardcore cricket enthusiasts still pour through the yearly release despite the accessibility of the internet.
Celebrating Wisden's 187th birthday, Google posted a doodle on its homepage. The doodle features Wisden playing cricket and the letter L in the doodle has been replaced with a cricket pitch.
Wisden played 187 first-class cricket matches for three English county cricket teams, Kent, Middlesex and Sussex. He is widely known for launching the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in 1864. It happened the year after he retired from first-class cricket.
Popularly known as "The Little Wonder", Wisden died of cancer in 1884 at the age of 57.