Crickonomics by Stefan Szymanski and Tim Wigmore

Reviewed by Richard Tutin

I don’t think Australian cricket lovers have really come to grips with the depth and diversity of the modern form of the game. Though they are familiar with the traditional cycle of tests, one day internationals and now T20, they may not be aware of how many countries field teams and players who take part in other tournaments such as the Indian Premier League and the Hundred, the World Cup and the South Africa T20 League that began its life in 2023. Fans may also be unaware of the work of the International Cricket Council (ICC) whose headquarters are now in Dubai where it runs a flourishing cricket academy that is utilised by players and teams of many different countries.

These and other issues are covered in detail by Stefan Szymanski and Tim Wigmore in Crickonomics. By detail I mean that they get into the statistics of cricketing life to argue their case for one issue or another. Though the statistical information in the book can be a bit dense and difficult to follow, it does help to understand that, for example, a lot of first-class cricket players are graduates of what Australians term the private school system where schools have a greater emphasis on sport as part of their curriculum offerings. They show that cricket is moving away from being seen as a purely an English colonial game to one that is now played in various parts of the world such as Afghanistan and Germany.

They cover issues such as why some teams rely on more on their batters than their bowlers and how playing in different climates can affect a team’s ability to win a test or One Day International. Both history and current information are combined to produce some fascinating insights into the politics of the game that have often produced more anger than cooperation.

They speculate on the changing focus of the game away from the traditional tests and one day games to the shorter and more inclusive versions such as T20. Match attendance figures are examined to determine if cricket is still capturing the hearts and minds of modern fans who are looking for more of an inclusive experience than merely watching two teams slog away at each other and clapping at the end of each over or when a batter gets out or makes a significant score.

Since the chapters are self-contained, readers can take their time working through this useful data filled guide rather than trying to wade through it in one sitting. It’s a useful reference book on the modern game that is constantly evolving as different countries send teams to the World Cup competition and other international tournaments. It may even be allowed back as an Olympic sport as it was in 1900.

I found it an enjoyable read despite my slight aversion to statistics. As well as providing food for thought, it served as a reminder that there is more to cricket these days than what we often see or get to see during an average Australian summer.

Stefan Szymanski is Professor of Sport Management at the University of Michigan. His books include Soccernomics, Money and Football, and National Pastime.

Tim Wigmore is the author of Cricket 2.0: Inside the T20 revolution, which won the Wisden Book of the Year and Telegraph Cricket Book of the Year awards in 2020.

Crickonomics The Anatomy of Modern Cricket

Stefan Szymanski and Tim Wigmore


Bloomsbury Sport

IBSN 978 147299 274 1

$34.99; 296pp

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