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Prize copy of Wisden withheld from disgraced cricketer up for auction

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A unique copy of cricketing bible Wisden’s Almanack, which was withheld from its player of the year after he was convicted of cheating, is expected to break sales records for the much-loved reference book at auction.

The leather-bound volume is the fifth of the first five of 150 numbered copies produced every year for collectors. Since 1890, the first five numbered copies have been presented to players chosen as cricketers of the year by the guide’s editor.

Though editor Scyld Berry chose five players in 2011, only four were named and awarded their copies. In the preface to the edition, Berry wrote: “This year, for the first time, Wisden has four cricketers of the year. Originally I selected five, in accordance with custom. Serious allegations of corruption were then made against one of them, and subsequent events rendered his selection in my opinion unsustainable.”


Although Berry declined to name him, it was an open secret in the cricketing world that Pakistani bowler Mohammad Amir was the fifth player. At the age of 18, Amir was one of three players on the notorious 2010 Pakistan national tour of England accused of spot fixing, after a tabloid sting by “Fake Sheikh” reporter Mazher Mahmood for the News of the World. Spot fixing is a practice in which players take prearranged actions in order to defraud bookmakers.

Amir was found to have intentionally thrown no-balls on specific deliveries in a conspiracy that involved the then-captain of the Pakistan team, Salman Butt,after a middleman was filmed arranging for the two bowlers to throw no-balls in exchange for £150,000. As a result, the International Cricket Council banned Butt from the game for 10 years, Asif for seven and Amir for five. All three also served prison sentences, with Amir placed in a young offenders’ institution. In summer 2016, he described himself as “seriously lucky” to be making his Test comeback.

This is the first time that a copy numbered below six of the leatherbound limited editions has been sold rather than presented to the cricketer of the year. In mint condition, copies numbered higher than five normally retail at £280. The unusual provenance of this edition is expected to push its price up.

Wisden has named five cricketers of the year since 1890. Only once before has the honour not been shared in this way. (In 1896, WG Grace was judged to be such a colossal player that it was deemed inappropriate for him to share the accolade.) Berry noted in the preface to the 2011 edition: “It is sad to break this tradition, but I considered that an exception was unavoidable this year, and it points up the realities that confront the modern game.”

The previous record for a Wisden Almanack was set in 2014, when a leatherbound copy of the 1995 edition was sold at auction for £2,824. Its high value reflected that only 100 numbered copies were published that year and it is highly desired among collectors. The unique 2011 volume dedicated to Amir is being sold on Wisdenauction.com, where a complete set is listed for £5,580.

Wisden is the longest-running sports annual in the world. Founded in 1864, it has enjoyed a continuous run for the past 152 years. As well as cricketing statistics, each edition features the editor’s letter, which is famous for addressing often controversial subjects in the cricketing world.

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Muslim Global: Prize copy of Wisden withheld from disgraced cricketer up for auction
Prize copy of Wisden withheld from disgraced cricketer up for auction
Prize copy of Wisden withheld from disgraced cricketer up for auction
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