Even the steady pitter-patter of rain falling on Chennai could not dampen the enthusiasm as the inaugural Wisden India Almanack was launched. Featuring one of India's greatest cricketers of all time, Rahul Dravid, on the cover, alongside Virat Kohli, the brightest prospect in the batting firmament, the Wisden India Almanack promised to be a flagbearer of all that was good in the past and all that's bright in the future.
"When you were growing up, you heard so much about Wisden, it was always an honour you dreamed about, and hoped would come your way at some point," said Dravid through a video message as he was unable to attend in person. "I remember being named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 2000, and knowing that I won't have a chance in future to receive a similar honour from the Indian edition, as I have retired, it was especially pleasing."
The first copy of the Wisden India Almanack was presented to N Srinivasan, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India by Anand S Krishnan, the executive chairman of Fidelis World, the company responsible for bringing the oldest brand in cricket to the biggest market in the world. "Wisden and cricket, you cannot separate the two," said Srinivasan. "When you think of one you are instantly reminded of the other. When I was growing up, in the time before cricket was on television, the written word was sacrosanct because all we knew of cricket came from Wisden. India is the largest market in cricket today thanks to the tremendous support for the game that sponsors provide. This is possible because of the kind of cricket our players have played over time."
Kohli was the first of three current India cricketers to receive a copy of the Wisden India Almanack, from Sourav Ganguly, one of India's greatest captains and currently president of the Wisden India Editorial Board. "To feature on the cover of the Wisden India Almanack, that too alongside a great player like Rahul bhai, is an honour," said Kohli.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who received a warm round of applause from an appreciative audience, was quick to add: "I wish Virat all the very best to handle the extra bit of pressure that will surely come his way having received this honour," said Dhoni. "This is only going to serve as an added motivation for youngsters to be on the cover."
One of the youngsters present, R Ashwin, confirmed that this was so. "We all know that Wisden is one of the most reputed cricket publications," said Ashwin. "It will be something to look forward to. Virat's cover is an inspiration for us all."
Suresh Menon, editor of the inaugural edition of the Wisden India Almanack, set the tone for the evening, invoking the spirit of John Wisden: "In offering our first edition of the almanack to the patrons of the noble game we have taken great pains to collect a certain amount of information which we trust will prove interesting to all those that take pleasure in this glorious pastime."
You can buy the Wisden India Almanack here.