Playfair Cricket Annual

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Playfair Cricket Annual is a compact annual about cricket that is published in the United Kingdom each April, just before the English cricket season is due to begin. It has been published every year since 1948. Its main purposes are to review the previous English season and to provide detailed career records and potted biographies of current players. It is produced in a "pocket-sized" format, being approximately 5×4 in (i.e., about 13×10 cm), so that it is a convenient size for carrying to cricket matches. The front cover of each edition has featured a photograph of a prominent current cricketer. There is a popular myth that this "honour" has a "hex" [1] or "curse" [2] associated with it, as the player featured then invariably has a poor season.



The original publisher was Playfair Books Ltd of London, which had its office at Curzon Street when the first edition was published in April 1948; the company relocated soon afterwards to Haymarket. The name Playfair was chosen because it reads as "play fair", as confirmed by C B Fry who began his foreword to the first edition in 1948: "This Playfair Annual (and what a proper title for a book about the Noble Game) will commend itself to innumerable readers". [3] The first editor was Peter West who was succeeded in 1954 by Gordon Ross. [4] Roy Webber was the statistician at Playfair for many years and was described by West as "that ace of statisticians". [5]

The Playfair Cricket Annual is one of a series of similar pocket sized sporting annuals published under the Playfair name. Others have included Playfair Football Annual , Playfair Rugby League Annual and Playfair Racing Annual. In addition the Playfair name was used for record books produced by Roy Webber and for the magazine Playfair Cricket Monthly. A number of tour brochures were also produced by Playfair Books.

Between 1948 and 1962 the annual was a larger size, 4¾×7¼ in (12×18 cm) and had a different style, being printed on glossy paper and including numerous photographs. In 1962 the Playfair titles were acquired by Dickens Press which had just published The Cricket Annual , edited by Roy Webber. In 1963, Dickens published a new style Playfair Cricket Annual, keeping the same name but basing the size, format and price on The Cricket Annual . Therefore, the 2013 edition is the 66th in total, but the annual has been published in its current compact size only since the 1963 edition (the 16th). [6]

In addition, Playfair Cricket World Cup Guide, in 1996, and Playfair Cricket World Cup 1999 were published in the same format as the regular annual to cover the International limited overs competitions in India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka and England/Scotland/Ireland/Netherlands in those years respectively. Both of those were also edited by Bill Frindall.

The current publisher is Headline Publishing Group with Ian Marshall, who succeeded Bill Frindall on an acting basis in 2009 and permanently for the 2010 edition, as editor. There are several specialist contributors, notably Philip Bailey who compiles the career records. [7]

The following tables provide a summary of each annual by reference to editor, size and price:

Larger format: 19481962

1948Peter West3s 6d144
1949Peter West3s 6d144
1950Peter West3s 6d176
1951Peter West3s 6d176
1952Peter West5s184
1953Peter West5s192
1954Gordon Ross5s176
1955Gordon Ross5s176
1956Gordon Ross5s176
1957Gordon Ross5s176
1958Gordon Ross5s176
1959Gordon Ross6s176
1960Gordon Ross6s176
1961Gordon Ross6s176
1962Gordon Ross6s176

In each of the first 15 editions there was a 16-page photographic section in addition to the numbered pages. The 1948 annual was actually called Playfair Books Cricket Annual but subsequent years were simply called Playfair Cricket Annual. There were two issues of the 1948 annual with a difference in the back cover. One had a Playfair logo, the other a Schweppes advertisement. [8]

Compact format: 1963present

Cover of 1963 edition of the Playfair Cricket Annual PlayfairCricketAnnual1963FrontCover.jpg
Cover of 1963 edition of the Playfair Cricket Annual

For the forerunners to the annual in this format see The Cricket Annual.

YearEditorCricketer(s) on Front CoverCricketer(s) on Back CoverPricePages
1963Gordon Ross Garfield Sobers n/a2s 6d192
1964Gordon Ross Bob Simpson n/a2s 6d224
1965Gordon Ross Ken Barrington n/a2s 6d224
1966Gordon Ross Wes Hall n/a3s224
1967Gordon Ross Brian Close n/a3s224
1968Gordon Ross Basil d'Oliveira n/a3s 6d224
1969Gordon Ross Alan Knott n/a3s 6d224
1970Gordon Ross John Edrich n/a4s224
1971Gordon Ross John Snow n/a20p224
1972Gordon Ross Geoff Boycott n/a22p224
1973Gordon Ross Tony Greig n/a25p224
1974Gordon Ross Bishen Bedi n/a35p224
1975Gordon Ross Dennis Amiss n/a50p212
1976Gordon Ross Clive Lloyd n/a50p224
1977Gordon Ross Dennis Lillee n/a60p224
1978Gordon Ross Mike Brearley n/a65p224
1979Gordon Ross Ian Botham n/a75p224
1980Gordon Ross Graham Gooch n/a90p240
1981Gordon RossGeoff Boycottn/a£1240
1982Gordon Ross Allan Lamb n/a£1.10256
1983Gordon Ross David Gower n/a£1.25256
1984Gordon Ross Viv Richards n/a£1.50256
1985Gordon Ross Paul Downton n/a£1.75256
1986Bill Frindall Allan Border n/a£1.75256
1987Bill Frindall John Emburey n/a£1.75256
1988Bill Frindall Graeme Hick n/a£1.75256
1989Bill Frindall Jack Russell n/a£1.75256
1990Bill Frindall Angus Fraser n/a£1.99256
1991Bill Frindall Robin Smith n/a£2.50256
1992Bill Frindall Phillip DeFreitas n/a£2.99256
1993Bill Frindall Alec Stewart n/a£3.99256
1994Bill Frindall Mike Atherton n/a£3.99256
1995Bill Frindall Darren Gough n/a£4.50288
1996Bill Frindall Wasim Akram n/a£4.99288
1997Bill Frindall Shane Warne & Graham Thorpe n/a£4.99288
1998Bill Frindall Nasser Hussain Hansie Cronje £4.99288
1999Bill Frindall Mark Ramprakash Allan Donald & Mike Atherton£4.99288
2000Bill Frindall Andrew Caddick Jack Russell & Mark Alleyne £5.99288
2001Bill Frindall Steve Waugh Mike Atherton & Alec Stewart£5.99304
2002Bill Frindall Marcus Trescothick Michael Vaughan £5.99304
2003Bill Frindall Andrew Flintoff Mark Butcher £5.99304
2004Bill FrindallMichael Vaughan Brian Lara £6.99304
2005Bill Frindall Steve Harmison The Ashes Urn £6.99304
2006Bill FrindallAndrew Flintoff England team celebrating Ashes victory£6.99320
2007Bill Frindall Ian Bell Sachin Tendulkar £6.99320
2008Bill Frindall Monty Panesar Stephen Fleming £6.99320
2009Bill Frindall* Ricky Ponting Kevin Pietersen £6.99336
2010Ian Marshall Andrew Strauss James Anderson £6.99336
2011Ian Marshall Graeme Swann England Ashes winning team with the Ashes urn £7.99336
2012Ian Marshall Kevin Pietersen Andrew Strauss holding ICC Test mace £7.99336
2013Ian Marshall Alastair Cook Matt Prior £7.99336
2014Ian Marshall Stuart Broad Ian Bell£8.99336
2015Ian Marshall Joe Root Michael Clarke £8.99336
2016Ian Marshall Ben Stokes Moeen Ali £8.99336
2017Ian Marshall Jonny Bairstow Chris Woakes £9.99336
2018Ian Marshall James Anderson Heather Knight £9.99352
2019Ian Marshall Jos Buttler Sam Curran £9.99352
2020Ian Marshall Jofra Archer Eoin Morgan £9.99352
2021Ian Marshall Zak Crawley Joe Root £9.99336

From the 1998 edition onwards a thumbnail picture also appeared on the spine of the annual. This has been a smaller version of the front cover photograph except in 1998 and 2008, when it was the back cover picture, and in 2006 and 2010 when the Ashes urn was depicted.

Compact format: World Cup Guides

YearEditorCricketers on Front CoverCricketer on Back Cover and spinePricePages
1996Bill FrindallAllan Donald & Brian Laran/a£4.99256
1999Bill Frindall Arjuna Ranatunga & Glenn McGrath Sanath Jayasuriya £4.99288

Apart from those on the covers, there are no photographs in any of the annuals from 1963.

Eleven cricketers of the year

From 1950 to 1962 the annual produced a list of its Eleven Cricketers of the Year for the previous season. Tony Lock was selected 7 times, Peter May 6 times.

County register, averages, and records

Since the first compact edition of 1963, the core of the publication has been a section providing a county by county list of current cricketers with potted biographies, their county averages in the previous season together with some introductory notes on the county and the major county records.

The county clubs are listed in alphabetical order. Until 1962, the biographies occupied less space and were not sorted by county club. Introductory information about each county club has expanded, largely because of the introduction of limited overs cricket competitions. A much longer list of officials is now given; originally only the secretary and captain were given. Until 1972 most editions gave potted scores for each club's home matches but lack of space caused this to be removed.

Current contents

Currently, the annual's contents typically include: [9]

Status of matches

As one of the leading statistical cricket publications, Playfair has to take a view on the status of Test, One Day International, first-class and domestic one-day (i.e. List A) matches. It generally complies with the statistics published by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack and will sometimes ignore official rulings: e.g., the ICC ruling that South African rebel tours between 198182 and 198990 were not first-class matches. The 2010 edition overturned Frindall's long-held view that the match between Australia and an ICC World XI in 2005/06 should not be regarded as a Test Match and now includes it in its Test record section. [10]

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John Brian Statham, was an English professional cricketer from Gorton, in Manchester, who played for Lancashire County Cricket Club from 1950 to 1968 and for England from 1951 to 1965. As an England player, he took part in nine overseas tours from 1950–51 to 1962–63. He specialised as a right arm fast bowler and was noted for the consistent accuracy of his length and direction.

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Australian cricket team in England in 1953

The Australian cricket team toured England in the 1953 season to play a five-match Test series against England for The Ashes.

Len Hutton captained the English cricket team in Australia in 1954–55, playing as England against Australia in the 1954–55 Ashes series and as the MCC in other matches on the tour. It was the first time that an England team had toured Australia under a professional captain since the 1880s. After losing the First Test by an innings, they beat Australia 3–1 and retained the Ashes. The combination of Frank Tyson, Brian Statham, Trevor Bailey, Johnny Wardle and Bob Appleyard made it one of the strongest bowling sides to tour Australia, and it was the only team of any nationality to defeat Australia at home between 1932–33 and 1970–71.

Peter May captained the English cricket team in Australia in 1958–59, playing as England in the 1958-59 Ashes series against the Australians and as the MCC in their other matches on the tour. It was widely regarded as one of the strongest teams to depart English shores, comparable with the great teams of Johnny Douglas in 1911-12 and Percy Chapman in 1928-29. It had no obvious weaknesses, and yet it was beaten – and beaten badly. By the First Test the top batsmen had made runs, the Surrey trio of Loader, Laker and Lock had taken wickets, as had Lancashire's Brian Statham. South Australia, Victoria and an Australian XI had all been beaten – the last by the crushing margin of 345 runs – and all seemed rosy for Peter May's touring team. But in the Brisbane Test they lost by 8 wickets and the rest of the series failed to offer any hope of reversing their fortunes. The reasons for their failure were manifold; the captain was too defensive; injuries affected their best players; others were too young and inexperienced such as Arthur Milton, Raman Subba Row, Ted Dexter, Roy Swetman and John Mortimore, or at the end of their career; Godfrey Evans, Trevor Bailey, Jim Laker, Willie Watson and Frank Tyson. Their morale was further bruised when faced with bowlers of dubious legality and unsympathetic umpires. Peter May was criticised for seeing his fiancée Virginia Gilligan, who was travelling with her uncle the Test Match commentator Arthur Gilligan. The press blamed the poor performance on the team's heavy drinking, bad behaviour and lack of pride – a foretaste the treatment losing teams would receive in the 1980s. It was not a happy tour by any means and it would take 12 years to recover The Ashes. As E.W. Swanton noted

It was a tour which saw all sorts of perverse happenings – from an injury list that never stopped, to the dis-satisfaction with umpiring and bowlers' actions that so undermined morale. From various causes England gave below their best...

Ted Dexter captained the English cricket team in Australia in 1962–63, playing as England in the 1962-63 Ashes series against the Australians and as the MCC in their other matches on the tour. In October, the team played a match in Colombo during a stopover on the voyage to Australia. After leaving Australia in February, they played a three-match Test series in New Zealand.

1952 was the 53rd season of County Championship cricket in England. It was the beginning of Surrey's period of dominance as they won the first of seven successive County Championships. England defeated India 3–0 in the Test series.

1961 was the 62nd season of County Championship cricket in England. Australia retained the Ashes by winning the Test series 2–1. Hampshire won their first championship title.

1962 was the 63rd season of County Championship cricket in England. It was the last season to feature the venerable Gentlemen v Players fixture as a result of the distinction between amateurs ("Gentlemen") and professionals ("Players") being abolished following the end of the season. As a result, all first-class cricketers became nominally professional. Yorkshire won the County Championship and England easily defeated an inexperienced Pakistan team.

The Indian cricket team toured England in the 1959 season. The team played five Test matches against England and lost them all: the first time that England had won all the matches in a five-match series. Only one of the Tests, the game at Manchester, went into the fifth day.

The Pakistan cricket team toured England in the 1962 season to play a five-match Test series against England. They also played a match in Ireland. The team is officially termed the Second Pakistanis as it was their second tour of England, following their inaugural tour in 1954. The Test series was the third between the two teams after those in England in 1954 and in Pakistan in 1961–62. Ted Dexter captained England in four Tests and Colin Cowdrey in one; Javed Burki captained Pakistan in all five Tests. England won the series 4–0 with one match drawn.

The South African cricket team toured England in the 1955 season to play a five-match Test series against England.

The England cricket team toured South Africa in the 1956–57 season. The tour was organised by the Marylebone Cricket Club and the side played five Test matches as "England" and 15 other first-class matches as "MCC". Two of the first-class matches took place in Rhodesia in what is now Zimbabwe.

1958–59 Ashes series

The 1958–59 Ashes series consisted of five cricket Test matches, each scheduled for six days with eight ball overs. It formed part of the MCC tour of Australia in 1958–59, and the matches outside the Tests were played in the name of the Marylebone Cricket Club. The England team led by Peter May was labelled the strongest ever to leave England. It had the formidable bowling attack of Fred Trueman, Frank Tyson, Brian Statham, Peter Loader, Jim Laker and Tony Lock; the all-rounder Trevor Bailey; the outstanding wicket-keeper Godfrey Evans; and the batting of Colin Cowdrey, Tom Graveney, Raman Subba Row and Ted Dexter. They had won the last three Ashes series in 1953, 1954–55 and 1956, but lost the series 4–0 to Australia. It was one of the biggest upsets in Test cricket history and the biggest margin of defeat in an Ashes series since the 5–0 "whitewashing" inflicted by Warwick Armstrong's Australians in 1920–21.

The 1954–55 Ashes series between Australia and England consisted of five Test cricket matches, each of six days duration with five hours play each day and eight ball overs. It formed part of the MCC tour of Australia in 1954–55 and the English team in matches outside the Tests were styled Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). England were captained by Len Hutton, the first professional cricketer to lead an MCC tour of Australia. The Australian team under Ian Johnson were confident of victory but, despite losing the first Test by an innings, England won the series 3–1 and retained the Ashes.

The England team were very unhappy with the umpiring of the 1958–59 Ashes series, in particular the questionable actions of some bowlers in the Australian team. The televising of Test cricket was in its infancy and the notion of Test umpires using slow-motion replays or other modern techniques was considered absurd. Instead the umpires had to make judgements based on what they saw in a split-second, and honest mistakes were accepted as part and parcel of the game. However, touring teams sometimes felt that there was a natural bias towards the home team which led to some acrimony. Keith Miller thought "Mel McInnes, Colin Hoy and Ron Wright were our leading umpires in the 1954-55 M.C.C. tour of Australia, and I have no hesitation in saying that McInnes gave the finest exhibition of umpiring in a Test series that I have experienced". The England team thought well of him too, but in 1958-59 he lost the confidence of the England players and himself, appeared hesitant and gave some surprising decisions. In the Fourth Test he hesitated to give Ken Mackay out even after the batsman walked after snicking a catch off Brian Statham. Later Colin McDonald should have been run out when Fred Trueman flattened the stumps after his runner Jim Burke ran round the back of McInnes. McInnes gave him out, but then changed his mind and gave him not out as he had not seen whether Burke had made the run or not. On his next ball McDonald sportingly pulled his bat out of the way of the stumps to give Trueman "the easiest Test wicket I have ever taken". Trueman was affected again when he batted, given out caught by Wally Grout off Richie Benaud when he had dropped his bat and missed the ball. The England team became dispirited by the umpiring mistakes and, believing the officials to be against them, lost heart. As Fred Trueman wrote

...the Australian umpires demonstrated as much impartiality as a religious zealot. We just couldn't get favourable decisions and they no-balled England bowlers left, right and of the umpires consistently no-balled me...It was annoying, especially as this umpire seemed to allow Gordon Rorke to bowl with both his feet over the front line!...I suffered, as did others, from appalling umpiring decisions when batting...It was unbelievable."

The Marylebone Cricket Club tour of Australia in 1962–63 under the captaincy of Ted Dexter was its thirteenth since it took official control of overseas tours in 1903-1904. The touring team played as England in the 1962–63 Ashes series against Australia, but as the MCC in all other games. In all there were 27 matches; 5 Test matches, 11 other First Class matches and 11 minor matches. The batting of Ted Dexter proved to be a considerable draw and it was financially the most successful tour since 1946–47.

MCC tour of Australia in 1954–55

The Marylebone Cricket Club tour of Australia in 1954-55 under the captaincy of Len Hutton was its eleventh since it took official control of overseas tours in 1903-1904. The touring team played as England in the 1954-55 Ashes series against Australia, but as the MCC in all other games. In all there were 23 matches; 5 Test matches, 12 other First Class matches and 6 minor matches. It was the only time that a professional cricketer captained a MCC tour of Australia. It was one of the MCC's most successful tours, the Ashes being retained and the team winning five of their victories by an innings.

The Marylebone Cricket Club tour of Australia in 1958-59 under the captaincy of Peter May was its twelfth since it took official control of overseas tours in 1903-1904. The touring team played as England in the 1958–59 Ashes series against Australia, but as the MCC in all other games. In all there were 20 matches; 5 Test matches, 12 other First Class matches and 3 minor matches. It was billed as the strongest MCC team ever to tour Australia and dominated the early matches, and its heavy defeat in the Test series was seen as one of the great upsets in cricket.


  1. Playfair Cricket Annual 2000, p. 8
  2. Playfair Cricket Annual 2005, p. 2
  3. Playfair Books Cricket Annual 1948, p. 3
  4. Playfair Cricket Annual 1954
  5. Playfair Cricket Annual 1952, p. 3
  6. Playfair Cricket Annual 1963
  7. Playfair Cricket Annual 2008, p. 3
  8. Playfair Books Cricket Annual 1948
  9. Playfair Cricket Annual 2010, p. 1
  10. Playfair Cricket Annual 2010, p. 3