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The Cricket Society and M.C.C. Book Of The Year Award 2014
Please see shortlisted and longlisted nominees and those from previous years                                     
2013, 2012, 2011, 2010

The Cricket Society & M.C.C. are delighted to announce the Winner for the Book Of The Year Award 2014

in this joint Cricket Society & MCC press release. Photo courtesy of Graham Morris/Cricketpix

Debutant cricket writer, and political editor of The Economist, James Astill was on Friday night the winner of this prestigious award, presented in a packed Long Room at Lord's, for his book about Indian cricket in a wider national context - "The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India".

James beat off strong opposition from five other books, including much liked volumes about the real Percy Jeeves and by an Authors Cricket Club of notables including Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens. He received certificates and a 3000 award presented by England's fourth oldest living test cricketer Hubert Doggart.

This 45 year old competition, run in partnership between The Cricket Society and MCC since 2009, has become a highlight of the cricketing year. Friday's audience heard that it has been extended for at least another three years to 2017.

Vic Marks chaired the judges for the 2014 competition. The two judges nominated by the Cricket Society are John Symons and Chris Lowe. The MCC nominated judges are David Kynaston and Stephen Fay.

Nigel Hancock is the awards Administrator and Chairman of The Cricket Society


Shortlisted books (alphabetically by author)

book imageThe Great Tamasha   The Great Tamasha - Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India
James Astill, Wisden Sports Writing, Bloomsbury Publishing plc

A book from an author who has no previous connection with cricket comes out under the imprint of Wisden Sports Writing, which has set itself the task of bringing quality writing to the public. The series is not exclusively devoted to cricket but as so often, cricket provides the best platform to write well because of both the sport and its devotees.
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The Authors XI   The Authors XI - A Season of English Cricket from Hackney to Hambledon
The Authors Cricket Club, John Wisden & Co., Bloomsbury Publishing plc

There are books that you feel a little surprised that you didn’t like as much as you might have expected; a little uneasy about stepping ‘out of line,’ so to speak and more than a little diffident about criticising. There always seems to be one such book each year and this is the one. Widely acclaimed and with impeccable references, it still doesn’t quite seem to live up to its aims and aspirations.
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Lost In The Long Grass   Lost In The Long Grass - John Barclay - Fairfield Books

I often wonder whether The Cricket Society should produce a little book entitled The Thoughts of President John. I’m not sure what colour it would be, red is unlikely, more probably, a summery gold to demonstrate his love of the game.

In the meantime, we have a volume that doesn’t exactly follow up his award-wining Life Beyond The Airing Cupboard but instead, looks at a stack of characters in the world of cricket (and sometimes the wider world) who John simply found interesting and as he says, “added colour to the game.”

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The Real Jeeves spacer The Real Jeeves The Cricketer Who Gave His Life For His Country and His Name to a Legend
Brian Halford, Pitch Publishing
A book about a man whose name lives on in literature when his hopes of a successful cricket career fell, as did so many others, in the mud and squalor of the First World War. Percy Jeeves never knew that P. G. Wodehouse was going to immortalise him as the all-seeing, all-knowing, imperturbable gentlemen’s gentleman and probably he wouldn’t quite have understood why this immortality had been bestowed but just a glimpse of Percy’s talent had made an impression of the aspiring writer.
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Bradmans War   Bradman's War How the 1948 Invincibles Turned the Cricket Pitch into a Battlefield
Malcolm Knox, The Robson Press

Another thought-provoking book from an Australian author, rapidly becoming one of the most readable around. It’s a kind of reappraisal of the legendary Ashes series and matches against the counties (and others) of 1948, where the tourists achieved the previously unthinkable – an unbeaten record.
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The Little Wonder   The Little Wonder The Remarkable History of Wisden
Robert Winder, John Wisden & Co

I confess that I put off reading this book for quite a long time because it seemed such a daunting prospect and I wasn’t quite sure that a history of Wisden would be much more than a list of snippets from various of the one hundred and fifty almanacks. It’s true that there is much quoting – it could hardly be otherwise – but there is a lot more to be examined than simply the words and the cricketing feats contained within the covers.


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Longlisted books (alphabetically by author)

book imageSkirting The Boundary  

Skirting The Boundary - A History of Women’s Cricket
Isabelle Duncan, The Robson Press

Isabelle Duncan is a prominent cricketer; good enough to play for MCC and to skipper an otherwise all-male, very decent standard Surrey League side, so her credentials need not be doubted. She is a member of MCC (and how good it is to be able to use those words and not feel it strange) and sits on the General Committee at Lord’s, following in the footsteps of Rachael (now Baroness) Heyhoe-Flint.

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Gentlemen, Gypsies and Jesters   Gentlemen, Gypsies And Jesters - The Wonderful World of Wandering Cricket
Anthony Gibson and Stephen Chalke, Fairfiled Books

The book covers as many wandering clubs as is possible with many of the contributions coming from the clubs themselves and Anthony and Stephen covering the other clubs. Perhaps the smartest idea came with the decision to feature clubs in the order that they were founded. So, no angry clubs claiming priority by virtue of their fixture list but a proper celebration of longevity and quality.
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An Endangered Species  

An Endangered Species - The Autobiography
David Gower, Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
A book by David Gower is more than a little like his batting and his broadcasting style. Elegant, graceful, a hint of a swash being buckled and full of good things. However, the title gives the lie to such a casual turn of phrase. David Gower really does think that there is a problem which might well be called Roundheads and Cavaliers. As devotees of Sellar and Yeatman will know, the Cavaliers were Wrong but Romantic and the Roundheads were Right but Repulsive. Keep those distinctions in mind and you will soon understand exactly what is going on in this book.

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A Guide To Cricket  

A Guide To Cricket - A Weekly Record of the Game
Tony Laughton, Christopher Saunders Publishing Ltd

There are several items which are absolutely essential for any serious student who is looking into the history of the game, especially the period from May 1882 until November 1914 when Cricket: A Weekly Record of the Game was produced. This publication most definitely falls into the category of “a must-have” for any researcher.

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Howzat  

Howzat? The Six Sixes Ball Mystery
Grahame Lloyd, Celluloid Ltd

This is the book that Grahame Lloyd never expected to write. This might seem an odd way to introduce a book that is one of the most welcome offerings this year.

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MJK Smith  

M. J. K. Smith - No Ordinary Man
Douglas Miller, ACS Publications
It’s a very difficult task to write a book about a very decent man who seems to have left few enemies in his wake in a long and successful career on and off the field but Douglas Miller was ever the man to shoulder the responsibility. Probably the last England skipper not to have either written an autobiography or been the subject of a biography, authorised or otherwise, M. J. K. (and don’t those initials resound) Smith is one of that breed of amateurs who found fame in the 1950s and had a neat little Assistant Secretaryship to fund his playing career.

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A Half Forgotten Triumph  

A Half-Forgotten Triumph - The Story of Kent’s County Championship Title of 1913
Martin Moseling and Tony Quarrington, Sportsbooks Limited

To Kent fans of a certain age, like me, the “Golden Age” of Kent cricket means the glorious 1970s when the County Championship was won three times and there were no fewer than seven trophies in the various limited overs competitions. But earlier in the century, when the County Championship was the only game in town, Kent won it four times in eight years – 1906, 1909, 1901 and 1913. This book tells the story of the last of these triumphs - what was, as it turned out, to be Kent’s last win in any competition for fifty-four years.

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Then Came Massacre  

Then Came Massacre - The Story of Maurice Tate, Cricket’s Smiling Destroyer
Justin Parkinson, Pitch Publishing

Justin Parkinson is a political reporter for the BBC but comes with genuine cricketing credentials, having worked in Brighton as a cricket columnist in the days of his youth. Being a Sussex supporter, he has turned his attention to the legendary Maurice Tate, who has been surprisingly little-written about as a main character, tending only to feature in the lives of other cricketers.


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Headingley Ghosts  

Headingley Ghosts - A Collection of Yorkshire Cricket Tragedies
Mick Pope, Scratching Shed Publishing
A difficult book this. Diligently researched and eschewing the obvious, Mick Pope has delved deep into the history of players who have played for Yorkshire and come to what is usually referred to as ‘an untimely end.’

The problem that comes across is the sheer number of cricketers who dies before their allotted span and that depends on what one might term as ‘allotted span.’ It’s hard to dissect the lives and deaths of cricketers without feeling mean-spirited.


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Walter Robins  

Walter Robins - Achievements, Affections and Affronts
Brian Rendell, ACS Publications
From the ACS comes a study of one of the more quirky individuals who featured between the wars as a player and after, as an administrator.

A typical amateur, born with a silver spoon in his mouth and proceeding effortlessly to the heights of English cricket...... well, not quite. Walter Robins was born the son of a postal worker of Stafford but that’s not quite the whole story either. His mother came from a wealthy background and although apparently cut adrift after a ‘clandestine’ marriage, not for the usual reasons, there seems to be some probability that the family didn’t necessarily withdraw all funds from their errant daughter.

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Andrew Strauss  

Driving Ambition - My Autobiography
Andrew Strauss, Hodder & Stoughton
Following his retirement, we have the full autobiography from one of England’s more successful captains and it looks as if this can be truly described as ‘all his own work.’ There seems to be no ghost in the machine so, if this is correct, it’s all the more meritorious. It is based, in part, on diaries that were written at the time of unfolding events and they are a mix of recording feelings; getting basic details down and a fair bit of philosophising with a future book in the back of the author’s mind, I’d hazard a guess.

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