‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?’ asked CLR James, one of the most revered philosophers of the 20th century in his magnum opus Beyond a Boundary.

In that book, arguably the best ever written about the game, the West-Indian born cultural historian, a revolutionary, described the ins and especially the outs of cricket in the most apt and scholarly manner.

The words were actually a succinct reply to Rudyard Kipling, the apologist of British imperialism, and the philosopher showed the impacts of the Victorian game that transcendent beyond plethora of boundaries.

The analysis of James was paramount understanding the game’s impact in the 20th century, a tumultuous era, and the importance is no less in the current one but with the advent of modern day data analysis, ubiquitous globalisation, hyper consumerism some other aspects of the game have become vital to comprehend.

Crickonomics: The Anatomy of Modern Cricket, as the name suggests, exactly did so thanks to two eloquent authors- journalist Tim Wigmore and economist Stefan Szymanski.

The dynamic duo scribed an incredible book shedding light on many aspects of the game that were under darkness for a long time.

Szymanski did an outstanding job analyzing the economics of football in his book socceronomics along with Simon Kuper and one may feel he did even better with Wigmore, a passionate albeit having extremely modern point of views.

Cricket is a game laden with endless statistics yet the game saw very little deep research with numbers till the recent time. Football, thanks to its global popularity, saw nuanced analysis with detail archives of data and evidently that gave the game immense boost. As a result, the modern game became a data driven science and hence even more efficient.

General view of cricket ball.

 Thanks to availability and ease of collecting big data cricket has the potential to go along the same path. Throughout the book Wigmore and Szymanski’s main aim was to show that. They presented innumerable data, graphs and more importantly the interpretations that would help one comprehend the game even better and hence pave the way of improving it.

However, the book is not only about the hard numbers. Like a good book it has many layers and one can taste the layers according to one’s interest. A geek many plunge deep into the numbers while the ones who are not so interested may yet fathom the book avoiding the numbers all together.

The 20 chapters are cleverly divided into six parts. The first part is about the fight of old and new ideas. Wigmore, a T20 enthusiast and the writer of the book Cricket 2.0, which may help one remove the taboos against the shortest format of the game, invariably supported the growth of T20s.

However, he took the aide of history to support his claims and did not discard the greatness of Test cricket.

One may wonder the mention of James while reviewing the book but the first chapters of this book showed with vivid statistics how the game has been an elite one and still dominated by the ones who won ‘birth lottery.’ Like the economic inequality the gulf is getting even greater and the duo presented the fact with data.

While talking about the history, the book showed how cricket authorities not only ignored women but also the chances of becoming one for working class.

The authors dug deep to break some long held stereotypes, asked curious questions like how the temperature impacts directly on the result of cricket games and even the daring ones like Why does not South Africa produce more black batters?

With this sort of inquiry the book dealt with socio-political questions but the forte of the book as the same suggests is analyzing numbers and the moneyball type analysis of whether batter or bowler are more impactful and how the teams may gain more efficiencies are breathtaking.

For cricket lovers, this book may be a brilliant eye opener. One may start to understand and love the game with an aura of savant. And watching a cricket game before and after reading the book may be a quite different experience altogether.