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Wisden Cricket Monthly issue 77 – Performance special with Pope, Knight and Rashid

by Wisden Staff 8 minute read

In the new issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly, out May 2, a selection of the best players and coaches in the game reveal their trade secrets. Our 10-page special feature includes a batting masterclass with England’s Test No.3, Ollie Pope, and lessons in leadership from Heather Knight, while Adil Rashid unravels the mystery of leg-spin and Jack Russell explains how to sharpen up your glovework.


We welcome the new county season with news on all 18 first-class sides, plus a candid interview with Essex’s Dean Elgar, the former South Africa skipper telling Mel Farrell that he was “shot in the foot and left in the cold” by his national board. And columnist Lawrence Booth argues there is merit in trialling the Kookaburra ball despite the glut of early-season draws.

Elsewhere, Jo Harman investigates what it’s like to be a neurodiverse cricketer, Mark Ramprakash considers the attributes that make a Test player, Rob Smyth trawls the CricViz archive to examine how Don Bradman could have been muzzled, and Vic Marks talks John Stern through the defining moments of his time as a player and broadcaster.

We also have Andrew Miller on Andrew Flintoff’s second coming, Katya Witney on England women’s tour of New Zealand, and Ben Bloom speaks to competitors at the inaugural Over-40s World Cup in South Africa, including a couple of famous faces.

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10 standout quotes from the new issue:

“The scoop came out of that trip to Abu Dhabi. I was facing Tom Hartley with the new ball and he was bowling really nicely. I was finding it quite hard to sweep and reverse sweep and I remember Brendon McCullum was standing at slip. He’s not the tallest and I thought I could get it over him. I tried it two or three times and it worked.”
Ollie Pope on the training which led to his epic 196 at Hyderabad

“Captaincy can be a super lonely place. Ultimately there’s always a little bit of water between you and the team. So that took some time to get used to, though to be honest it wasn’t too hard, because my personality does have a bit of a ruthless streak and I’m able to separate the emotion from decision making.”
Heather Knight on the challenges of leadership

“That’s where Flintoff’s intensely personal story has a place in the modern coaching canon. As with McCullum and Stokes, he’s lived a life of such extreme highs and lows that he offers the sort of rarified elite context that cannot be gleaned from any manual, and that no ordinary personality could begin to imitate. But crucially, there’s a grounding to his experiences too.”
Andrew Miller on Rob Key tipping Andrew Flintoff to be a future England head coach

“I played because, fundamentally, I still love the game. And it was great fun. Obviously it’s a bit of a different way to represent England, but it’s still playing for your country.”
Darren Stevens on taking part in the inaugural Over-40s World Cup in South Africa

“I was just sat down in the hotel room and told, ‘Cheers, you’re done’. I had quite a good record at that point in time. We went from seven or six in the world to maybe second and we were pushing for the WTC final. It was quite a shock to the system. There could have been a better way of dealing with that and I would have been open to [having that] conversation. I was basically shot in the foot and left in the cold.”
Dean Elgar on being sacked as South Africa’s Test captain

“It’s one thing to send out a strong message, to say we want quick bowlers and aggressive batters. But by putting it in such stark terms, 90 per cent of county cricketers will now be thinking, ‘I’m never going to play for England’. No matter what numbers they put on the board. There’s a risk, too, that the England selectors are oversimplifying things by having strict criteria for the players they’ll consider… It’s almost as though they’ve forgotten that England have produced fabulous batters in the recent past who have played in a traditional way and had great success.”
Mark Ramprakash on what makes a Test cricketer

“Bradman’s average against slow bowling from the 41st ball of his innings onwards was almost 250. Take out Hedley Verity and it rises to a truly preposterous 462.67.”
Rob Smyth delves deep into the CricViz archive to investigate how The Don could have been muzzled

“It’s about finding the balance of when to experiment and when not to. There are certain times when it would be more effective to keep it simple, but because I have so many options I can lose a bit of clarity. When you get in that loop, it’s tough.”
Benny Howell on the benefits and challenges that come with being a neurodiverse cricketer

“Pete [Roebuck] and Both [Botham] got on initially – they were intrigued by each other and even wrote books together. It’s something that went sour, tragically so. By the end I was hopelessly stuck in the middle, the only one speaking to both parties. We’d had the best of times through the trophy years but 1986 was the worst year imaginable.”
Vic Marks on the trials and tribulations from his career as a cricketer and broadcaster

“I learnt a lot from football because it was very dog-eat-dog, and you had to toughen up quickly if you wanted to survive.”
Hampshire’s Keith Barker on how his time with Blackburn Rovers FC prepared him for life as a professional cricketer

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