Part history, part data analysis, part reflection on the sport’s future, Crickonomics is exactly what the title suggests – a diagnosis of the state of professional cricket through the lens of data analysis economics.
Tim Wigmore previously co-wrote the excellent Cricket 2.0 (recently shortlisted for best sports book of the 21st Century so far) which was a brilliant and comprehensive look at the global spread of T20 cricket. Stefan Szymanski, an economics professor, may be best known to many for co-writing the excellent Soccernomics (or Why England Lose). Together, they are an ideal pair to take a data fueled look at cricket’s past, present and future.
Crickonomics examines a wide variety of assumptions and unanswered questions about the sport to see what light can be shed and what myths can be shattered. The book also looks to explain the modern evolution of the game, both on and off the oval, with the benefit of data powered hindsight.
The level of research is impressive with a vast array of writers and studies quoted (including very interesting work by Duncan Stone on the social history of cricket in England which is covered in his recent book Different Class).
The book’s strength is the breath of issues covered, moving swiftly between broad topics such as whether private school offers players a major advantage in making a professional career or whether bowlers are undervalued by teams and why. Different questions will be of differing levels of interest to readers but the book never falls into the trap of overburdening readers with too much raw data. It’s also great to see plenty of focus on the rise of women’s cricket and especially the opportunity it presents for new countries to compete with the established powers.
My main takeaway from the book, much like from Soccernomics, is that inevitably everything boils down to money. More money helps players develop as youngsters, decisions on the future of the game will be shaped by what draws eyeballs and wallets, and a small amount of money could (but probably won’t) globalize the game (for both men and women) if targeted correctly.
Highly recommended for any cricket fans. Crickonomics will be published by Bloomsbury on 26th May.