“The real quicks leave their mark everywhere.” The new issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly – out November 26 – is a pace special, as we confront the raw truth about authentic fast bowling. What it’s like to do, and what it’s like to withstand.
Where better to start than with the fastest in the history of the game? In an exclusive interview, Shoaib Akhtar speaks candidly to Taha Hashim about the blood, sweat and tears that went into making him the first bowler to cross the 100mph barrier, and how he cultivated his image as the world’s meanest quick.
James Wallace speaks to batsmen and bowlers about the visceral thrill and inherent risk in fast bowling, English teenage tearaway Issy Wong tells Jo Harman she wants to become the first woman to break 80mph, and we pick out the most devastating wicket-taking acts in fast-bowling history. We also investigate the science behind the art and the physical properties which allow a special few to do it, and John Stern tracks down the elusive John Snow, an English fast-bowling great who has faded from view.
Elsewhere in the magazine, Phil Walker explores the lonely art of leg-spin and English cricket’s complex relationship with it, Tanya Aldred considers why the number of openly gay male professional cricketers in this country still stands at one, Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath reflects on his career of two halves, Adam Hollioake remembers a knock of sheer brilliance from his brother Ben, and Ted Dexter tells us why Zak Crawley’s the real deal.
We also have the usual expert opinion from our columnists Andrew Miller, Isabelle Westbury and the returning Adam Collins, and a guest column from Neil Manthorp on the financial crisis engulfing South African cricket.
Wisden Cricket Monthly is also available in digital form. You can purchase single issues or sign up for a subscription here.
10 standout quotes from the new issue:
“Most people thought I bowled for the people. I never bowled a single ball for the people. I did it for me. I wanted to go to the other side of the pain barrier.”
Shoaib Akhtar on his singular career
“Pace is something that people are beginning to focus on and take notice of [in women’s cricket]. There have been one or two express bowlers in the past, but not a wide selection. I think the mindset is more positive now: ‘Why can’t I do that?’”
Meet Issy Wong, the English teenage tearaway on a high-speed mission
“I had a few sessions with Paul McKenna, he put me under and, this might make me sound like a bloody fruitcake, but it made a huge difference.”
Former England batsman Robin Smith speaks to James Wallace about the mental and physical challenge of facing express pace
“I had my backside kicked for not trying. I got into arguments about the way the game was run. The more you stayed in the game the more you saw that it wasn’t being run very well. I got increasingly rude, I suppose.”
John Snow, the great England fast bowler, gives a rare interview to John Stern
“I had an incident a few seasons ago where I made an error in taking a run-out chance. The abuse I got online was pretty extreme, from name calling and being accused of match-fixing to the wider view that women’s cricket is terrible and shouldn’t be invested in. It really affected me.”
England seamer Kate Cross speaks to Isabelle Westbury for her column on the perils and rewards of social media
“For gay cricketers of either sex, the path to acceptance is strewn with hazards.”
In the next instalment of our series on cricket’s diversity problem, Tanya Aldred explores how welcoming the game is for gay cricketers
“This is when Australian cricket feels at its most vigorous, as prodigies take the step up. Welcome Will Pucovski.”
Adam Collins, our returning columnist for the Aussie summer, says Australia are shaping up nicely for the challenge of India, with Sheffield Shield scorecards reminiscent of the glory years
“Leg-spinners with aspirations to surmount first-class cricket come up against a catch-22: unable to develop unless they play, unselectable unless they’ve developed.”
Phil Walker speaks to English leg-spinners about the unique challenges associated with the form
“I tell youngsters that if you want to understand me then don’t look at the second half of my career, with all the success; study the first half, from 2000 to 2009, when I was in and out of the team and had no permanent place.”
Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath talks to Scott Oliver about the ups and downs in his long and prolific career
“Ben batted as if it was me and him having a game in the backyard. It just so happened to be against two of the best bowlers of all-time in McGrath and Warne. He literally just did what he wanted to them. I knew he could play but I’d be lying if I said I thought a 19-year-old could ever do that to those two.”
Adam Hollioake picks out a stunning debut knock from his younger brother in ‘My Favourite Innings’