John Wisden was born on 5 September 1826 – 5 April 1884 He was an English cricketer who played 187 first-class cricket matches for three English county cricket teams, Kent, Middlesex and Sussex. He launched the iconic Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack in 1864, the year after he retired from first-class cricket. Today he is honoured with a Google Doodle to celebrate his birth 187 years ago.
Wisden made his first-class debut for Sussex in 1846 aged 19 vs MCC taking 6 wickets. Initially a fast round-arm bowler, his pace slowed in later years. While bowling fast, he took on average nearly 10 wickets in each game. In 1850, playing for the South against the North at Lord’s, his off-cutter technique won him 10 wickets in the second innings, all clean bowled (still the only instance of all ten wickets being taken “bowled” in any first-class match). He was no mean batsman either, against Kent at Tunbridge Wells in the same year he made 100 and in 1855 he notched up 148 against Yorkshire.
In all, he took 1,109 first-class wickets with a bowling average of 10.32 He was also a fine batsman (4,140 first-class runs with a batting average of 14.12, an average which was very good for the time).
He played almost all of his cricket in England, but he travelled with a touring team led by George Parr to Canada and the US in 1859, where eight matches in Montreal, Hoboken, Philadelphia, Hamilton and Rochester were won easily. Since 1855 Wisden had been in partnership with Fred Lillywhite, who organised the North American tour. They ran a tobacconist and sports outfitting business in London’s West End, but this did not survive the trip.