Episode 3: Unpacking more of this year’s Wisden

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller have launched a new podcast to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They chat regularly about cricket topics – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

In the first two episodes they previewed and then reviewed the new Wisden Cricketers Almanack. In this one they find they’re not yet done mining the rich seams of gold within its pages, talking about cricketing and the environment – how some of the most important matches are played in some of the world’s most polluted cities – how the game is gradually shifting to become more of a winter game, with the season starting earlier, and they celebrate the fact that the game is being played in new and unexpected places, such as Mali and Lebanon.

From the review of cricket in Ecuador they make the amazing discovery that Julian Assange has a cricketing background and a standing invitation to join Quito Cricket Club.  It leads them to discuss the concept of Cricketers of Conscience and the possibility of an organization of that name to take up their cause. They review some famous players who have become victims of infamous régimes. Thousands of less known players and cricket lovers, especially journalists, are now victims of state power, prejudice, persecution and violence. A new organization could campaign for them all – and suggest candidates for profiles in next year’s Wisden. They invite responses and will say more about this in coming weeks.

They embark on designing their own fantasy Philosphers’ eleven, celebrate a new Afghan record holder, and discuss the recent interview in the Times between Mike Atherton and Nathan Leamon, the official data analyst for the England cricket team. Statistical analysis is being applied to cricket as it is to any big business.

 


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Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.

Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

The Podcast was produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.