Almanac Cricket: “Golden Boy” is Wisden’s best ever cricket book

Christian Ryan’s Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the bad old days of Australian cricket has been declared the best cricket book ever written by a Wisden panel. An oustanding achievement.



It was selected from an esteemed shortlist. The other listed books are below:


Coming Back To Me – Marcus Trescothick

Beyond a Boundary – CLR James

The Unquiet Ones – Osman Samiuddin

A Social History of English Cricket – Derek Birley

Rain Men – Marcus Berkmann

Chinaman – Shehan Karunatilaka


The  panel who made the selection and the process they used are explained here.


Christian Ryan is interviewed about the writing of the book here.


These exercises are designed to encourage discussion. What do you think of the shortlist? What are your personal favourites? We expect the well-read Almanackery will have some views of their own.


Christian also edited the oustanding collection Australia: Story of a Cricket Country, which contained an essay by the Almanac’s John Harms. You can read an extended version of John’s essay here.


John Butler reviewed Australia: Story of a Cricket Country here.


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  1. John Butler says

    I reckon any book with Christian Ryan associated has been well worth the read.

    Apart from the above-mentioned, ‘Feeling is the Thing that happens at 1000th of a Second’ is an original take on a particular point in cricket history. Also, the music anthology he edited, ‘Best Music Writing Under the Australian Sun’ is pretty fine.

    Re other cricket favs,
    Beyond a Boundary is a classic.
    Gideon Haigh’s Mystery Spinner (most things by Gideon)
    Ray Robinson’s On Top Down Under
    Roland Bowen’s Cricket: A History of it’s Growth and Development,,, (quirky, but fascinating)
    Scyld Berry – Cricket The Game of Life
    Ramachandra Guha – A Corner of a Foreign Field

    I’m sure to have missed some here.

  2. DBalassone says

    Have always intended to read that book. Great subject matter. Will have to follow up now. For some reason, I remember being glad when Kim Hughes was dropped in 84/85. Looking back I obviously bought into the strange herd mentality against him at the time. But as the years have rolled on, I’ve always been interested in what he has to say. His speaking voice seems to belie his appearance and the way he played the game.

    A few other books that spring to mind for me are Michael Holding’s “Whispering Death” and Gideon Haigh’s “On Warne”, though I’m sure the Almanackery will list many more.

  3. David Zampatti says

    This is a shocking example of conflict of interest, but Jack Pollard described “Slasher Opens Up” by my uncle Ken as one of the best cricket books ever written, and who am I to disagree with the great man?

  4. Has there ever been a book written about Walt Disney’s JIMINY CRICKET. Now that would be a beauty and well worth waiting for.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Interesting list by Wisden.

    My best cricket books read include-

    “10 for 66 and all that” by Arthur Mailey
    “Grimmett on Cricket” by Clarrie Grimmett
    “Wayward Genius- The Fleetwood-Smith Story” by Greg Growden
    “Power of Passion” by Justin Langer (totally inspiring)
    “Tangled Up in White” by Peter Roebuck (fantastic collection of his best writing)
    “The Strangers Who Came Home” by John Lazenby (Story of the first Australian Test tour of England in 1878)
    “Cricket Task-Force- The Story of the 1950/51 Ashes” by Bill O’Reilly
    “In the Firing Line” by Ed Cowan

    And anything by the great man Gideon Haigh, especially-
    “The Vincibles”
    “The Cricket War”
    “Mystery Spinner”
    “On Warne”
    “Stroke Of Genius”

    Currently reading “Steve Smith’s Men” by Geoff Lemon, exceptionally well written.

  6. As a collector/accumulator of cricket books, choosing between them is almost akin to being asked who is your favourite child.
    Suffice to say that I reckon “Golden Boy” is easily in my Top 7.
    Forced to choose, I would say that Gideon Haigh’s “Stroke of Genius” is by far the greatest cricket book I have read. Amazing research, well written (of course), and going off on a multitude of tangents but always managing to get back on track.
    I tend to steer clear of biographies and “captain’s stories of tours”. Reently I have enjoyed Dan Brettig’s “Bradman and Packer”, Michael Sexton’s “Chappell’s Last Stand”, and Christian Ryan’s “Feeling is the thing that happens in a 1000th of a second”.
    Like Crackers, I am currently reading “Steve Smith’s Men” by Geoff Lemon.

  7. Peter Warrington says

    This is the best

    Dan Brettig’s Whitewash to Whitewash is pretty awesome as well, covering an incredibly turbulent period in cricket for Australia,

  8. Chappells Last Stand as mentioned.
    Mystery Spinner: The Jack Iverson story by Gideon Haigh
    But, anything by Steve Waugh tends to be predictable.

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