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Playfair Cricket Annual

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Playfair Cricket Annual is a compact annual about cricket that is published in the United Kingdom each April, just before the English cricket season is due to begin. It has been published every year since 1948. Its main purposes are to review the previous English season and to provide detailed career records and potted biographies of current players. It is produced in a "pocket-sized" format, being approximately 5×4 in (i.e., about 13×10 cm), so that it is a convenient size for carrying to cricket matches. The front cover of each edition has featured a photograph of a prominent current cricketer. There is a popular myth that this "honour" has a "hex"[1] or "curse"[2] associated with it, as the player featured then invariably has a poor season.


The original publisher was Playfair Books Ltd of London, which had its office at Curzon Street when the first edition was published in April 1948; the company relocated soon afterwards to Haymarket. The name Playfair was chosen because it reads as "play fair", as confirmed by C B Fry who began his foreword to the first edition in 1948: "This Playfair Annual (and what a proper title for a book about the Noble Game) will commend itself to innumerable readers".[3] The first editor was Peter West who was succeeded in 1954 by Gordon Ross.[4] Roy Webber was the statistician at Playfair for many years and was described by West as "that ace of statisticians".[5]

The Playfair Cricket Annual is one of a series of similar pocket sized sporting annuals published under the Playfair name. Others have included Playfair Football Annual, Playfair Rugby League Annual and Playfair Racing Annual. In addition the Playfair name was used for record books produced by Roy Webber and for the magazine Playfair Cricket Monthly. A number of tour brochures were also produced by Playfair Books.

Between 1948 and 1962 the annual was a larger size, 4¾×7¼ in (12×18 cm) and had a different style, being printed on glossy paper and including numerous photographs. In 1962 the Playfair titles were acquired by Dickens Press which had just published The Cricket Annual, edited by Roy Webber. In 1963, Dickens published a new style Playfair Cricket Annual, keeping the same name but basing the size, format and price on The Cricket Annual. Therefore, the 2013 edition is the 66th in total, but the annual has been published in its current compact size only since the 1963 edition (the 16th).[6]

In addition, Playfair Cricket World Cup Guide, in 1996, and Playfair Cricket World Cup 1999 were published in the same format as the regular annual to cover the International limited overs competitions in India/Pakistan/Sri Lanka and England/Scotland/Ireland/Netherlands in those years respectively. Both of those were also edited by Bill Frindall.

The current publisher is Headline Publishing Group with Ian Marshall, who succeeded Bill Frindall on an acting basis in 2009 and permanently for the 2010 edition, as editor. There are several specialist contributors, notably Philip Bailey who compiles the career records.[7]

The following tables provide a summary of each annual by reference to editor, size and price:

Larger format: 1948–1962

Year Editor Price Pages
1948 Peter West 3s 6d 144
1949 Peter West 3s 6d 144
1950 Peter West 3s 6d 176
1951 Peter West 3s 6d 176
1952 Peter West 5s 184
1953 Peter West 5s 192
1954 Gordon Ross 5s 176
1955 Gordon Ross 5s 176
1956 Gordon Ross 5s 176
1957 Gordon Ross 5s 176
1958 Gordon Ross 5s 176
1959 Gordon Ross 6s 176
1960 Gordon Ross 6s 176
1961 Gordon Ross 6s 176
1962 Gordon Ross 6s 176

In each of the first 15 editions there was a 16-page photographic section in addition to the numbered pages. The 1948 annual was actually called Playfair Books Cricket Annual but subsequent years were simply called Playfair Cricket Annual. There were two issues of the 1948 annual with a difference in the back cover. One had a Playfair logo, the other a Schweppes advertisement.[8]

Compact format: 1963–present

Cover of 1963 edition of the Playfair Cricket Annual

For the forerunners to the annual in this format see The Cricket Annual.

Year Editor Cricketer(s) on Front Cover Cricketer(s) on Back Cover Price Pages
1963 Gordon Ross Garfield Sobers n/a 2s 6d 192
1964 Gordon Ross Bob Simpson n/a 2s 6d 224
1965 Gordon Ross Ken Barrington n/a 2s 6d 224
1966 Gordon Ross Wes Hall n/a 3s 224
1967 Gordon Ross Brian Close n/a 3s 224
1968 Gordon Ross Basil d'Oliveira n/a 3s 6d 224
1969 Gordon Ross Alan Knott n/a 3s 6d 224
1970 Gordon Ross John Edrich n/a 4s 224
1971 Gordon Ross John Snow n/a 20p 224
1972 Gordon Ross Geoff Boycott n/a 22p 224
1973 Gordon Ross Tony Greig n/a 25p 224
1974 Gordon Ross Bishen Bedi n/a 35p 224
1975 Gordon Ross Dennis Amiss n/a 50p 212
1976 Gordon Ross Clive Lloyd n/a 50p 224
1977 Gordon Ross Dennis Lillee n/a 60p 224
1978 Gordon Ross Mike Brearley n/a 65p 224
1979 Gordon Ross Ian Botham n/a 75p 224
1980 Gordon Ross Graham Gooch n/a 90p 240
1981 Gordon Ross Geoff Boycott n/a £1 240
1982 Gordon Ross Allan Lamb n/a £1.10 256
1983 Gordon Ross David Gower n/a £1.25 256
1984 Gordon Ross Viv Richards n/a £1.50 256
1985 Gordon Ross Paul Downton n/a £1.75 256
1986 Bill Frindall Allan Border n/a £1.75 256
1987 Bill Frindall John Emburey n/a £1.75 256
1988 Bill Frindall Graeme Hick n/a £1.75 256
1989 Bill Frindall Jack Russell n/a £1.75 256
1990 Bill Frindall Angus Fraser n/a £1.99 256
1991 Bill Frindall Robin Smith n/a £2.50 256
1992 Bill Frindall Phillip DeFreitas n/a £2.99 256
1993 Bill Frindall Alec Stewart n/a £3.99 256
1994 Bill Frindall Mike Atherton n/a £3.99 256
1995 Bill Frindall Darren Gough n/a £4.50 288
1996 Bill Frindall Wasim Akram n/a £4.99 288
1997 Bill Frindall Shane Warne & Graham Thorpe n/a £4.99 288
1998 Bill Frindall Nasser Hussain Hansie Cronje £4.99 288
1999 Bill Frindall Mark Ramprakash Allan Donald & Mike Atherton £4.99 288
2000 Bill Frindall Andrew Caddick Jack Russell & Mark Alleyne £5.99 288
2001 Bill Frindall Steve Waugh Mike Atherton & Alec Stewart £5.99 304
2002 Bill Frindall Marcus Trescothick Michael Vaughan £5.99 304
2003 Bill Frindall Andrew Flintoff Mark Butcher £5.99 304
2004 Bill Frindall Michael Vaughan Brian Lara £6.99 304
2005 Bill Frindall Steve Harmison The Ashes Urn £6.99 304
2006 Bill Frindall Andrew Flintoff England team celebrating Ashes victory £6.99 320
2007 Bill Frindall Ian Bell Sachin Tendulkar £6.99 320
2008 Bill Frindall Monty Panesar Stephen Fleming £6.99 320
2009 Bill Frindall* Ricky Ponting Kevin Pietersen £6.99 336
2010 Ian Marshall Andrew Strauss James Anderson £6.99 336
2011 Ian Marshall Graeme Swann England Ashes winning team with the Ashes urn £7.99 336
2012 Ian Marshall Kevin Pietersen Andrew Strauss holding ICC Test mace £7.99 336
2013 Ian Marshall Alastair Cook Matt Prior £7.99 336
2014 Ian Marshall Stuart Broad Ian Bell £8.99 336
2015 Ian Marshall Joe Root Michael Clarke £8.99 336
2016 Ian Marshall Ben Stokes Moeen Ali £8.99 336
2017 Ian Marshall Jonny Bairstow Chris Woakes £9.99 336
2018 Ian Marshall James Anderson Heather Knight £9.99 352
2019 Ian Marshall Jos Buttler Sam Curran £9.99 352
2020 Ian Marshall Jofra Archer Eoin Morgan £9.99 352
2021 Ian Marshall Zak Crawley Joe Root £9.99 336
2022 Ian Marshall Adil Rashid Heather Knight £10.99 352
2023 Ian Marshall Sam Curran £10.99 352
  • Bill Frindall died soon before the 2009 annual was completed, but received sole credit as editor on the front cover. The acknowledgements page credits Ian Marshall as "acting editor". Frindall's traditional preface was written by Jonathan Agnew.

From the 1998 edition onwards a thumbnail picture also appeared on the spine of the annual. This has been a smaller version of the front cover photograph except in 1998 and 2008, when it was the back cover picture, and in 2006, 2010 and 2023 when the Ashes urn was depicted.

Compact format: World Cup Guides

Year Editor Cricketers on Front Cover Cricketer on Back Cover and spine Price Pages
1996 Bill Frindall Allan Donald & Brian Lara n/a £4.99 256
1999 Bill Frindall Arjuna Ranatunga & Glenn McGrath Sanath Jayasuriya £4.99 288

Apart from those on the covers, there are no photographs in any of the annuals from 1963.

Eleven cricketers of the year

From 1950 to 1962 the annual produced a list of its Eleven Cricketers of the Year for the previous season. Tony Lock was selected 7 times, Peter May 6 times.

County register, averages, and records

Since the first compact edition of 1963, the core of the publication has been a section providing a county by county list of current cricketers with potted biographies, their county averages in the previous season together with some introductory notes on the county and the major county records.

The county clubs are listed in alphabetical order. Until 1962, the biographies occupied less space and were not sorted by county club. Introductory information about each county club has expanded, largely because of the introduction of limited overs cricket competitions. A much longer list of officials is now given; originally only the secretary and captain were given. Until 1972 most editions gave potted scores for each club's home matches but lack of space caused this to be removed.

Current contents

Currently, the annual's contents typically include:[9]

  • Preface, Foreword and Acknowledgements
  • Test Cricket
    • Details of England's records against the touring teams
    • Register of the touring teams
    • Statistical highlights of the previous year
    • Scorecards of the previous year
    • Current career averages
    • Test match records
  • County Cricket
    • County register, averages and records
    • Umpires register
    • University registers
    • Touring team registers
    • Statistical highlights of the previous season
    • Competition results and tables
    • Cricketer of the year awards
    • First-class averages for the season
    • First-class career averages
    • List 'A' career averages
    • First-class records
  • Limited over and T20 Internationals
    • Summary of England matches
    • Career averages
    • Records
  • Other Cricket
    • Oxbridge matches
    • Women's cricket
  • Fixtures

Status of matches

As one of the leading statistical cricket publications, Playfair has to take a view on the status of Test, One Day International, first-class and domestic one-day (i.e. List A) matches. It generally complies with the statistics published by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack and will sometimes ignore official rulings: e.g., the ICC ruling that South African rebel tours between 1981–82 and 1989–90 were not first-class matches. The 2010 edition overturned Frindall's long-held view that the match between Australia and an ICC World XI in 2005/06 should not be regarded as a Test Match and now includes it in its Test record section.[10]


  1. ^ Playfair Cricket Annual 2000, p. 8
  2. ^ Playfair Cricket Annual 2005, p. 2
  3. ^ Playfair Books Cricket Annual 1948, p. 3
  4. ^ Playfair Cricket Annual 1954
  5. ^ Playfair Cricket Annual 1952, p. 3
  6. ^ Playfair Cricket Annual 1963
  7. ^ Playfair Cricket Annual 2008, p. 3
  8. ^ Playfair Books Cricket Annual 1948
  9. ^ Playfair Cricket Annual 2010, p. 1
  10. ^ Playfair Cricket Annual 2010, p. 3
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Playfair Cricket Annual
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