20110106

Booth lands role as Wisden editor


Cricket journalist and author Lawrence Booth has been appointed to succeed Scyld Berry as editor of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, traditionally one of the most prestigious jobs in cricket.
Booth, 35, will become the youngest Wisden editor in 72 years.
Berry, editor since 2008, is set to declare after his fourth almanack – the 148th edition – is published in April. Booth will take charge of the 2012 edition.
Wisden, the game’s yellow-jacketed bible, has been at the heart of cricket since it was first published in 1864.  Selection as one of its Five Cricketers of the Year has become recognised as a major honour and the annual Notes by the Editor have long been regarded as a uniquely influential voice on the state of the game.
Booth, cricket writer for the Daily Mail, studied modern languages at Cambridge and has been associated with Wisden since he sought work experience there in 1998. Quickly identified as a writer of talent, he subsequently worked for the almanack, Wisden Cricket Monthly (now The Wisden Cricketer) and wisden.com before leaving to go freelance in 2002.
Since then he has cemented his reputation, writing for the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian, where he pioneered the much-admired Over-By-Over web coverage and the online column The Spin, which became Top Spin when Booth joined the Mail in 2009. It was voted Best Online Column in the 2010 Sports Journalists’ Awards.
Booth's eye for the funnier side of the game is one of the strengths of his column-writing and his humour comes to the fore also in his books. He is the author of Arm-ball to Zooter: A Sideways Look at the Language of Cricket (Penguin) and Cricket, Lovely Cricket?: An Addict's Guide to the World's Most Exasperating Game(Yellow Jersey) and compiled a marvellous collection of cricket quotations under the title "What are the Butchers For? (A & C Black).

His other achievements include umpiring a televised game of horseback cricket, and (thanks to his skill in German) giving Wisden the only known cricketing interview with the Slovakian handball player, Maros Kolpak, the man who inadvertently revolutionised cricket by securing a European court ruling on the eligibility of foreign players.

Booth will work alongside Hugh Chevallier who has been promoted from deputy editor to co-editor. Chevallier will have prime responsibility for production and publication and also for the almanack’s core content of match reporting and statistics.

In the past month Wisden has joined Twitter, and Booth will take a lead role in plans to further develop Wisden’s digital presence.

Matthew Engel, Berry’s predecessor as editor of the almanack, will become editorial director of John Wisden and Co in addition to his role as editor of the company’s new imprint for sporting books, Wisden Sports Writing. Engel will be responsible for guiding long-term editorial strategy and will help plan the 150th edition in 2013.

Berry, the longest-serving and most respected member of the cricket press corps, will concentrate on his role as cricket correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph.

“Scyld has been a terrific editor,” Engel said. “He brought to the book an authority and knowledge of the game that perhaps only John Woodcock has ever matched. Lawrence has big shoes to fill but he is a great talent. We hope the Lawrence–Hugh combination will take the book into a new era.

“Cricket is changing very fast, too fast for some of us. Wisden’s job is to reflect those changes without ever losing sight of its own values, and those that should be at the heart of cricket. I have great faith that the new team will continue to do that.”

Among Berry’s achievements are the creation of the Wisden City Cup for inner-city youngsters, the introduction of Wisden’s Schools Cricketer of the Year and, in the forthcoming 2011 edition, the Cricket Photograph of the Year (entries close on January 17th). His choice of Claire Taylor as one of Five Cricketers of the Year in 2009 was the first time a woman has been honoured by Wisden.

John Wisden and Co, the publishers of Wisden, is now owned by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc which also publishes Who’s Who and Whitaker’s Almanack.

Haddon Whitaker, whose family founded the other almanack, was only 31 when he became editor of Wisden in 1940, Booth will be 37 when his first Wisden is due to be published – the same as both Charles Pardon in 1887 (the edition that established the book on a firm footing after some difficult years), and John Wisden when he brought out the famous first volume in 1864.

Click here to pre-order Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2011, due out in early April.

Books by Lawrence Booth


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