Oborne & Heller on Cricket

Sovereigns, stars, stewards, scorers, statisticians … Steven Lynch on this year’s Wisden obituaries

April 18, 2023 Peter Oborne, Richard Heller, Steven Lynch Season 1 Episode 117
Oborne & Heller on Cricket
Sovereigns, stars, stewards, scorers, statisticians … Steven Lynch on this year’s Wisden obituaries
Show Notes

Two monarchs lead the obituaries in the 2023 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. As always, it is a melancholy but matchless memorial to global cricket’s losses, and a section to which many readers turn first. Its compiler and editor, Steven Lynch, discusses its selection and preparation as the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. In this edition Roger Alton replaces Peter as co-host.
Steven outlines the late sovereign’s long connexions with cricket, understandably placed above the alphabetical list (“we could not file her under Q for Queen”.) He does the same for her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, reflecting the Almanack’s current policy of retrospective tributes to women omitted from Wisden, as she was in the 1902 edition.

The 195 following names ranged in age from a 16-year-old Indian schoolboy to a 102-year-old former umpire. Inevitably the number includes premature deaths from accident (such as Andrew Symonds and Rudi Koertzen) and suicide, but very broadly it suggests that cricket contributes to a long life.

The former cricketers are led by Shane Warne and Rodney Marsh, who died on the same day: Warne’s final tweet was a tribute to Marsh. Steven wrote Marsh’s himself: Warne’s was by his long-time collaborator Richard Hobson. Other contributors were Matthew Engel and Richard Whiting. Steven explains the general policy of not naming obituarists, to emphasize that the tribute of whatever length is Wisden’s final judgement on the subject. The object is always, especially in those less well-known, to bring out some unexpected detail of character and career (as with the player who had fielded out the whole of Hanif Mohammed’s innings of 499). Steven felt that Warne’s tribute had brought home his acute cricket brain and hoped that Marsh’s would counter his early stock image as a beer-drinking larrikin to suggest the thoughtful man behind it.

Steven also comments on:

Jim Parks  of Sussex and England, first of a long line of Test batsmen-wicketkeepers, generously helped into that role by Keith Andrew;

Sonny Ramadhin, the great West Indian spin bowler, never the same after being made to bowl  98 overs against Peter May and Colin Cowdrey in 1957 with umpires who would not give him an lbw decision. He was the last survivor of the great West Indian touring team of 1950. Steven suggests that he and his partner Alf Valentine deserve a book to themselves;

the talented but troubled Andrew Symonds, who preferred fishing to off-field official events including team meetings and was embittered by the resolution of his dispute with the Indian Harbijan Singh;

the multi-gifted Andy Goram who played cricket as well as keeping goal for Scotland and annoyed a famous fast bowler by facing him without a helmet.

Continue reading here: https://chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-117-sovereigns-stars-stewards-scorers-statisticians-steven-lynch-on-this-years-wisden-obituaries/

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