John Wisden: Founder of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack

  • John Wisden is well know for the eponymous Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in 1864, the year after he retired from first-class cricket
  • 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
  • In July 1845, aged 18, only 5 ft 4 in and weighing just 44 kg (7 stone), he made his first-class debut for Sussex against MCC, taking 6 wickets in the first innings and three in the second
  • Wisden joined the All-England Eleven in 1846, moving allegiance to the United All-England Eleven in 1852
  • Initially a fast roundarm bowler, before overarm bowling was permitted, his pace slowed in later years so he bowled medium pace; he also bowled slow underarm
  • While bowling fast, he took on average nearly 10 wickets in each game
  • He played almost all of his cricket in England, mostly for Sussex, but once for Kent and thrice for Middlesex
  • 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
  • Wisden began a cricket-equipment business in Leamington Spa in 1850 and five years later opened a "cricket and cigar" shop in Coventry Street near The Haymarket in central London
  • He retired from cricket in 1863 at the relatively early age of 37 as a result of rheumatism, and started publishing his annual Cricketers' Almanack the following year
  • He also published in "Cricket and How to Play It" in 1866
  • In retirement he developed his business into a manufacturer and retailer of equipment for many sports, not just cricket
  • John Wisden's business was acquired in 1943 by a Co-operative society, which sold it on to Grays of Cambridge in 1970
  • Grays then ceased to 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
  • 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
  • In 1913, 29 years after his death, he was the subject of a "Special Portrait" in the 50th edition of Wisden, replacing the usual Wisden Cricketers of the Year feature which was dropped from that edition
  • Link to the story of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack:

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