Encyclopedia of World Cricket
by Roy Morgan.
SportsBooks Ltd, 2007.
When one reads a book claiming to be an encyclopaedia of world cricket, the coverage of the non-test countries in such a book ranges from a cursory mention of some of the top associates, to outright hostility, if cricket below Test level is mentioned at all.
So it is with some pleasure that Roy Morgan's Encyclopaedia of World Cricket is a book that finally treats the associates and affiliate (and non-members) of the ICC with respect, and a level of seriousness that is long overdue.
Being a former Assistant Director of the UK's National Soil Research Institute is perhaps not an obvious choice to write a book on cricket, but Morgan tackles the subject with an obvious passion. It is clearly a long-standing passion, as he has collected results and statistics from all the non-test countries since his time working in Malaysia in the 1960s.
Whilst the Test nations have longer treatments in the book (understandably, as the game is recorded much better in those countries) many other nations have substantial write-ups, especially the current six ODI status associates, along with countries where the game once reached, or neared, first-class standards such as Argentina, the USA, Malaysia and Singapore. Countries where the game is hardly played, or is pretty much extinct also get a write up, including the likes of Mongolia, Nicaragua, the Solomon Islands and the Sudan, amongst many others. Morgan uses his vast collection of results for all nations to provide us with a description of cricket in each country, also outlining the most famous victories and most important players for each.
In amongst the excellent history sections is also Morgan's opinions on the current and past state of the game. He doesn't pull any punches in his criticism, whether it is the current hypocrisy of the ICC in suspending the USA for much less than what Zimbabwe are doing, claiming to be against political interference when they allow Sri Lanka to have government appointed selectors, or the farce that was the 2007 World Cup Final. He also has a lot to say on why the game didn't spread in some countries, from the elitism that stopped the game spreading in the USA and Argentina (where the sport nearly reached Test standards) or the racism that stopped the game being played by indigenous participants in the early 20th century, which led to the game almost dying out when the British left.
He is also scathing of the poor level of information about national team matches placed on the official websites of the various national boards, something we have attempted to rectify to some extent with our various Stats Zone sections, and the absence of this information from the internet makes Morgan's research feat all the more impressive. It would not be going so far as to say that much of this information would have been lost if it wasn't for this book.
Interesting facts crop up throughout the book and will surprise even people who know a lot about the game below Test level, such as learning that when Bart King took all ten wickets for Philadelphia against Ireland, he bowled the not-out batsman with a no-ball, or that Burma once scored almost 500 against Sri Lanka.
The book is not completely perfect though. Some of the statistical analysis is a little dry, Morgan often fails to differentiate between an international played over one day and an official one-day international, and some errors creep in, such as referring to CricketEurope as the official website of the European Cricket Council (now ICC Europe), or bizarrely referring to John Davison as Jim Davison throughout most of the section on Canada. This is not to take away from the monumental effort Morgan has put in though, as the sheer volume of information he must have sorted through to write this book is phenomenal.
Overall, this book is a must for all cricket lovers around the world to place on their bookshelves. It is only the aforementioned minor errors that prevent me from giving it a mark of ten out of ten. As it is, it is certainly a nine and a half.