Review of Crickonomics: The Anatomy of Modern Cricket - Issue 11
Review of new book by Tim Wigmore and Stefan Szymanski
A cricket focused edition this week with a review of an upcoming book looking at what data can tell us about the past, present and future of cricket. I’ve also reposted below my review of the excellent Cricket 2.0, also co-written by Tim Wigmore.
And of course, we have the usual list of upcoming books with lots of great soccer books especially being released over the next week. Happy reading!
New Book Review: Crickonomics: The Anatomy of Modern Cricket by Tim Wigmore and Stefan Szymanski
Part history, part data analysis, part reflection on the sport’s future, Crickonomics is exactly what the title suggests - a diagnosis of the state of professional cricket through the lens of economics.
Tim Wigmore previously co-wrote the excellent Cricket 2.0 (recently shortlisted for best sports book of the 21st Century so far) which was a brilliant and comprehensive look at the global spread of T20 cricket. Stefan Szymanski may be best known to many for co-writing the excellent Soccernomics (or Why England Lose). Together, they are an ideal pair to take a data fueled look at cricket’s past, present and future.
Crickonomics examines a wide variety of assumptions and unanswered questions about the sport to see what light can be shed and what myths can be shattered. It also looks to explain the modern evolution of the game, both on and off the pitch, with the benefit of data powered hindsight.
The level of research is impressive with a vast array of writers and studies quoted (including very interesting work by Duncan Stone on the social history of cricket in England which is covered in his book Different Class).
The book’s strength is the breath of issues covered, moving swiftly between broad topics such as whether private school offers players a major advantage in making a professional career or whether bowlers are undervalued by teams and why. Different questions will be of differing levels of interest to readers but the book never falls into the trap of overburdening readers with too much raw data.
My main takeaway from the book, much like from Soccernomics, is that inevitably everything boils down to money. More money helps players develop as youngsters, decisions on the future of the game will be shaped by what draws eyeballs and wallets, and a small amount of money could (but probably won’t) globalize the game (for both men and women) if targeted correctly. It is also great to see plenty of focus on the rise of women’s cricket and especially the opportunity it presents to new countries to compete with the established powerhouses.
Highly recommended for any cricket fans. Crickonomics will be published by Bloomsbury on May 26th.
New Sports Books - What’s out recently or coming out soon?
⚽ TOR! - The Story of German Football by Uli Hesse. Delighted to see a revised edition of this classic football book being published.
⚾⚽🏀🏈On Account of Darkness: Shining Light on Race and Sport by Ian Kennedy
⚽ In the Shadow of Benbulben: Dixie Dean at Sligo Rovers by Paul Little. A rare book covering the Irish domestic league!
⚽ On the Border: The Rise and Decline of the Most Political Club in the World by Shaul Adar. A look at the history of Beitar Jerusalem.
⚽ Qarabag: The Team Without a City and their Quest to Conquer Europe by Emanuele Giulanelli
⚽ Brawls, bribes and broken dreams: How Dundee Almost Won the European Cup by Graeme Strachan
⚽ Philosophy and Football: The PFFC Story by Geoff Andrew and Filippo Ricci
💉 Doping A Sorting History by April Henning and Paul Dimeo
⛳ Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorised) Biography of Golf's Most Colorful Superstar by Alan Shipnuck. This has gotten a lot of coverage already for Mickelson’s stance of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to run golf tournaments. Promises to be entertaining.
⚾ The Real Hank Aaron: An Intimate Look at the Life and Legacy of The Home Run King by Terence Moore
🏀 Why I Stand by Jonathan Issac.
🏊♀️ Coming Up for Air by Tom Daley. Autobiography from the diving Olympic medalist.
⚾ Coming Home: My Amazin' Life with the New York Mets by Cleon Jones
An older book review - ‘Cricket 2.0: Inside the T20 Revolution’ by Tim Wigmore & Freddie Wilde (2019)
Long before Ireland achieved miraculous results in the Cricket World Cup and gained Test status, I was a cricket fan. Long rainy summers stuck indoors were improved immeasurably by Channel 4’s coverage of test cricket. I was first exposed to T20 cricket (or Twenty20 as it was then known) during the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) over a decade ago as I spent exam study leave watching (and gambling on) every single IPL game of that season.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, T20 cricket is a limited duration form of the game. Each team is bowled 120 balls (20 overs of 6 balls) to score as many runs as possible. Originally it met with some resistance as being too radical a departure for the game, but now, in large thanks to the IPL, it has become a hugely popular sport in itself.
Cricket 2.0 is an absolutely brilliant account of the first decade of T20 cricket. But it is also so much more than that. The level of analysis and insight into the strategies and tactics used by successful T20 teams is fascinating. It’s also a brilliant oversight of the overall global spread of T20, how it is changing how cricketers train and prepare, and an insightful chronicle of the formats first true superstars. The authors cover almost every conceivable angle that merits covering – the increased gambling risks of T20 domestic leagues, the struggles for any other league outside of the IPL to make the economics work, the rise of long overlooked talent from non-traditional cricket nation
I absolutely loved this book. It is strength is its how ambitious its scope is while also managing to give fascinating insights into the mindset of players, coaches and team owners. The book really brings out the level of work, sophistication and talent needed to excel at T20 cricket. I particularly enjoyed the focus and analysis on how T20 has turned bowlers from attackers to defenders and vice versa for batsmen.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough for any cricket fan. Even those with a limited understanding of the game should find it fascinating. It is superbly well written and just a generally brilliant book.
Thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts, opinions, any improvements I can make etc. Catch me on Twitter. More books next week!
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