2011 British Sports Book Awards


The shortlists have been announced for the ninth British Sports Book Awards, organised by the National Sporting Club. The winners will be named at a ceremony at The Savoy Hotel on 9th May.
The number of categories rises to 10 this year with the introduction of ‘best racing book’ and ‘best sports book retailer’ in addition to best biography and autobiography, best football, cricket and rugby books, best illustrated title, best new writer and best publicity campaign.
After the awards are made, the winners in each category will be entered into a public vote to find the best overall sports book of the year -- a campaign that will be supported by booksellers throughout the country in the run up to Father's Day.
The Sports Bookshelf puts each nominated title under the spotlight, with links to selected reviews.

Today’s spotlight is on the Best Biography award, for which the candidates are:

Frankincense and More, by Robin Oakley (Racing Post)
A Last English Summer, by Duncan Hamilton (Quercus)
Trautmann's Journey, by Catrine Clay (Yellow Jersey)
Get In There!, by Tom Lawton Junior and Barrie Williams (Vision Sports)
The Grudge, by Tom English (Yellow Jersey)
Bill Nicholson: Football's Perfectionist, by Brian Scovell (John Blake Publishing)


Frankincense and More

Frankincense and More tells the story of Barry Hills, the son of a stable lad who rose to be one of the leading trainers of all time, saddling more than 3,000 winners. It all began with a bet on a horse called Frankincense in the 1968 Lincoln Handicap, the winnings from which set himself up with his own training yard in Lambourn, breaking rank in a world which, even in the 1960s, was still divided along the class lines of pre-war society, dominated by the turf establishment and aristocracy.  Helped by his son Charlie -- one of five sons in racing -- Hills senior has maintained his success despite a continuing battle against serious illness. Oakley, best known as a political commentator, became racing correspondent of the Financial Times and a close friend of his subject, allowing him unrivalled access.

‘Hard’, ‘brave’, ‘professional’, ‘exacting’ and ‘combustible’ are the terms in which [Barry Hills] is most often described. Those who know him best speak fondly of a mellow and even sentimental side, but if one wanted to picture a man who embodied a pre-Diana world of emotional privacy and ‘old-school values’ then one could do a lot worse than the trim, impeccably turned-out Barrington Hills.
-- David Crane, The Spectator.  Read more…

A Last English Summer

In the words of the publishers, A Last English Summer combines reportage, anecdote, biography, history and personal recollection. The mix has been enough for Duncan Hamilton‘s sharply observed reflection on cricket's past, present and future to be nominated in two categories, ‘Best Biography‘ -- which he won in 2010 for his life of Harold Larwood -- as well as ‘Best Cricket Book‘.  The 2009 season is the thread running through Hamilton’s eloquent narrative, which examines the state of the game against a backcloth of a county game struggling for direction, seemingly losing touch with an England team which took its best players away on year-long tours of international duty and sold the Ashes series exclusively to pay-TV, and at the same threatened by the irresistible rise of Twenty20, ironically a monster of its own making. Hamilton, twice winner also of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, weaves the strands together in a deeply personal journey through the history and spirit of the game.

His passion and knowledge shine through as he decries the obsession with Twenty20 and sticks up for the Test format, yet he is convinced that cricket will survive.
--- Simon Redfern, The Independent. Read more…


Shortlisted in three categories -- ‘Best Biography‘, ‘Best Football Book’ and ‘Best Publicity Campaign’ -- Catrine Clay’s book takes one of football’s most famous stories as the starting point, tracing the life of Bert Trautmann, celebrated in this country for completing the 1956 FA Cup final with a broken neck, back to his roots in Germany, a country already in the grip of National Socialism. Clay explains how Trautmann, hero of English football, joined the Hitler Youth at the age of 10 and was fighting for his country at 17 but underwent a transformation when he was brought to England as a prisoner of war.  Bernhardt, a Nazi confined to a POW camp in Cheshire, becomes Bert, who plays amateur football while working on a bomb disposal unit in Liverpool, then joins Manchester City, whose fans ultimately forgive his past life as an enemy and take him to their hearts.

Trautmann's Journey shows our hero to be a perfect Third Reich prodigy – blue-eyed, blond, stupidly tough, unquestioning in his loyalty. As a young boy in the Hitler Youth, he despised his father's weakness for drink and compromise, and venerated the Führer for rebuilding the economy, championing sport, and marshalling a master race.
-- Simon Hattenstone, The Observer. Read more…


Get in There!

Co-written by former Nottingham Evening Post editor Barrie Williams and Tommy Lawton’s son, Tom junior, Get In There! recalls the football career of England's greatest goalscorer, whose record of 44 goals in 43 internationals is unmatched. Were he a player today, Lawton would be among the richest after scoring an astonishing 635 goals in 731 games for Burnley, Everton, Chelsea, Notts County, Brentford and Arsenal. But, by the 1970s. Lawton was bankrupt, drinking heavily and on the dole after a succession of failed managerial posts and business ventures, and facing jail after numerous court appearances. In Get in There! -- recalling the shout with which Lawton would celebrate as one of his bullet headers hit the net -- Williams and Lawton junior have pieced together an exclusively personal account of the centre forward’s extraordinary life.

Packed with memories and anecdotes, the book brings the story of Tommy Lawton, the footballer, to life…it also tells the moving, human story of Tommy Lawton, the man. How the idolised star's life descended into a cruel morass of debt, poverty, drink, shame and scandal before a chance encounter put him back on top.
--- Ray Yeomans, Nottingham Post.  Read more…


The Grudge

Also shortlisted in the ‘Best Rugby Book’ category, The Grudge is Scotland on Sunday journalist Tom English’s gripping account of a rugby match that became the focal point for a clash of political cultures, as Will Carling's England, the embodiment of Margaret Thatcher's Britain - snarling, brutish and all-conquering -- took on Scotland, the underdogs, the second-class citizens from a land that had become the testing ground for the most unpopular tax in living memory, Thatcher's Poll Tax.  At stake at Murrayfield, on the face of it, are the Calcutta Cup and the Five Nations Grand Slam, the biggest prize in northern hemisphere rugby. But what happens in the stadium will resound far beyond the pitch. This is the real story of an extraordinary conflict, told with astounding insight and unprecedented access to key players, coaches and supporters on both sides.

The finest book written on the tournament ... English has produced an absolutely outstanding work, weaving in the strands of history, politics, sociology, dislike and tactical nous, which makes the game probably the most remarkable ever played in the grand old tournament. The insights provided into the minds and roles of Jim Telfer and Brian Moore are worth the price alone
- Stephen Jones, The Times. Read more…

Bill Nicholson: Football's Perfectionist

Bill Nicholson, revered as one of the most honest football managers in the business, turned Tottenham Hotspur into the finest team in Britain in the early 1960s.  Veteran journalist Brian Scovell’s book, the first biography of Nicholson, commemorates the 50th anniversary of Tottenham's pioneering 1961 Double, which Nicholson followed up in 1963 by becoming the first manager to win a European trophy. By moulding players such as Dave Mackay, Danny Blanchflower, John White, Cliff Jones and Jimmy Greaves into an almost perfectly balanced team, he set new standards of attacking play. Born in Scarborough in 1919, Nicholson took the night train to London at the age of 17, signed for Spurs on £2 a week and spent the rest of his life with the club as player, coach, manager, scout and President, until his death in 2004. Also shortlisted for 'Best Football Book'.

With its unpretentious style and fund of good stories, it does justice to the architect of Tottenham's claim to greatness by outlining the standards he set and traditions he built that his 16 successors to date have so far failed to match.
-- Rob Bagchi, The Guardian. 

See the shortlists for Best Autobiography, Best Football Book,  Best Cricket BookBest Rugby BookBest Racing Book and Best New Writer.



Gazza revisits his life story in new illustrated biography

Paul Gascoigne has been reliving some of the happier moments of his chequered football career for a new illustrated biography due out later this year.
Published by Simon & Schuster, who have bought world rights to the book directly from the former Tottenham and England player, Glorious: My World, Football and Me will be published on October 13.
According to the publishers, Glorious “will document the career of the football legend and provide an unrivalled insight into the player who was both brilliant and controversial but never less than supremely watchable."
The book features photographs from Gascoigne's spells at Newcastle, Tottenham, Lazio and Rangers, as well as an England career that won him 57 caps but still did not do full justice to his talent as the most gifted English player of his time.
Gascoigne said: "It’s been great working on this book. It has given me the opportunity to relive some amazing times, my favourite moments, plus a few dodgy ones, and I am happy with what I see.
“Throughout my playing days I have always tried to share the experiences and the privileges with as many people as I could and that’s what I want to do here. I have fallen in love with football all over again."
Gascoigne’s two previous memoirs -- Gazza: My Story and Being Gazza: My Journey to Hell and Back -- were both published by Headline.  The latter addressed his 15-year battle with alchohol addiction, which he is currently tackling with the help of another former player who successfully rebuilt his life after suffering similar problems.
Jimmy Greaves, who has not touched drink for more than 30 years, is scheduled to appear alongside Gascoigne at several venues around Britain later this year on a tour entitled: "Gazza and Greavsie: an Audience with Football Legends".
In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph’s Jim White, Gascoigne said: “Jimmy‘s drinking spell was a long time ago, but I’m sure he’ll be able to help me if I get an urge.”

Pre-order Glorious: My World, Football and Me

Buy Gazza: My Story from Amazon at £5.49*
Buy Being Gazza: My Journey to Hell and Back from Amazon at £18.99*

(*Prices correct on April 27, 2011)




2011 British Sports Book Awards


The shortlists have been announced for the ninth British Sports Book Awards, organised by the National Sporting Club. The winners will be named at a ceremony at The Savoy Hotel on 9th May.
The number of categories rises to 10 this year with the introduction of ‘best racing book’ and ‘best sports book retailer’ in addition to best biography and autobiography, best football, cricket and rugby books, best illustrated title, best new writer and best publicity campaign.
After the awards are made, the winners in each category will be entered into a public vote to find the best overall sports book of the year -- a campaign that will be supported by booksellers throughout the country in the run up to Father's Day.
The Sports Bookshelf puts each nomination under the spotlight, with links to selected reviews.

Today’s spotlight is on the Best Autobiography award, for which the candidates are:

Blood, Sweat and Treason, by Henry Olonga (Vision Sports)
No Place to Hide, by Errol Christie (Aurum)
Beware of the Dog, by Brian Moore (Simon and Schuster)
Please Don't Go, by John Hartson (Mainstream)
We Were Young and Carefree, by Laurent Fignon (Yellow Jersey)
My Liverpool Home, by Kenny Dalglish (Hodder & Stoughton)


Blood, Sweat & Treason

Blood, Sweat And Treason tells the story of groundbreaking black Zimbabwe cricketer Henry Olonga's life and career against a backdrop of revolution, independence and a country that gradually spiralled out of control, and how he sacrificed his comfortable position as an international sportsman in protest against president Robert Mugabe’s murderous regime.  Now living in exile In England, branded a traitor in his homeland and stripped of his Zimbabwean citizenship, Olonga tells his extraordinary story in detail -- not just the famous black armband protest at the 2003 cricket World Cup but his early cricketing career in a rapidly changing Zimbabwe, the terrifying experience when he was car-jacked in Harare and his two year dispute with his Zimbabwe team-mates after a row about racism in the dressing room. Also shortlisted for 'Best Cricket Book'.

“He tells his story with candour and no little wisdom. Unlike many player autobiographies filled with inanities and self-delusion, this is a wonderfully candid account of a career that promised much but delivered only a handful of highlights reels. Olonga's self-deprecation doesn't ring hollow, and his assessment of many of his peers is clear-eyed without being tinged with malice.”
--- Dileep Premachandran, Cricinfo   Read more


A European middleweight champion in his amateur days, Errol Christie was one of the most promising British boxers of his generation, a poster boy for the popular ITV show Fight Night. But in 1985, after a string of professional knockouts, his professional career went into a downward spiral after he was beaten at Wembley by Mark Kaylor, a white fighter from the East End of London, in a brutal bout with deeply racial undertones.  But this is not the story of a celebrity sportsman down on his luck.  If it is a story about fighting, it is also about the kind that took place on the streets of Coventry in the late 1970s, a tough time and place to grow up if you were poor and black. Even when he reached what he saw then as ’the big time’ as a professional boxer, Christie discovered that black fighters had to play by white rules. Now a campaigner against knife and gun crime, Christie told his story to journalist Tony McMahon.

“This book is about a whole generation of black British people in the 70s whose stories have not been told. They were the generation after the Windrush that really said: ‘No, we’re not going to accept being pushed around. For people like Errol, it was one long fight. If he wasn’t fighting in the ring, he was fighting on the street.”
--- co-author Tony McMahon, Coventry Evening Telegraph.   Read More


Beware of the Dog: Rugby's Hard Man Reveals All

Already acknowledged as a fine work by winning the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award for 2010, the former England rugby hooker‘s searingly honest and candid life story tracks the highs and lows of a highly successful rugby career but goes much further, revealing painful memories of sexual abuse suffered as a schoolboy and the feelings of rejection he encountered as an adopted child, as well as later battles with depression and drink.  Brian Moore, or 'Pitbull' as he came to be known, established himself as one of the game's hard men and has subsequently earned a reputation as an equally uncompromising commentator, never afraid to tell it as he sees it. Also on the shortlist for 'Best Rugby Book'.

Moore reveals that his years with England and the Lions were riven with self-doubt, and the evident relish with which he recalls acts of violence on the pitch is somewhat disturbing. It didn't get any better after he stopped playing; he is eloquent about the uncertainty and sense of loss retirement can provoke.
--- Simon Redfern, The Independent   Read more


Please Don't Go: Big John's Journey Back to Life

John Hartson talks frankly about his battle with testicular cancer and how it almost cost him his life after he put off seeing a doctor for three years despite finding suspicious lumps.  Only when he began to develop severe headaches did he seek help, by which time the cancer had spread to his lungs and brain.  Hartson describes the gruelling series of 11 operations, the radiotherapy and the 67 cycles of chemotherapy he underwent before confounding doctors by recovering from the disease.  Proceeds from the book have helped fund the John Hartson Foundation, which the former Arsenal, Celtic and Wales striker set up to raise awareness of testicular cancer.

This is a well written and very traumatic account of a high profile battle against cancer, covering more than one version of the story. It truly is an inspiration to anyone who has suffered any form of the disease and most importantly, gives an insight into the dangers of not seeking medical help when required.
--- Mike Godfrey, Suite 101 Read more


We Were Young and Carefree: The Autobiography of Laurent Fignon

A poignant entry, given that Laurent Fignon died from cancer last August, having handed over the manuscript before he was diagnosed. Fignon was one of the giants of modern cycling, twice winner of Tour de France in the early eighties, yet better known, arguably, for the one he lost, in 1989.  It was one of the most fiercely-contested Tours of all time but at the end of the 3,285-kilometre epic he was beaten by his American arch-rival, Greg LeMond, by an agonising eight seconds on the final Parisian time trial.  Fignon gives cycling fans a tantalising glimpse behind the scenes of the friendships, the rivalries, the betrayals, the scheming, the parties, the girls, and, of course, the performance-enhancing drugs. William Fotheringham's translation is, like Fignon himself, elegant and vivid.

Written in an intimate, almost conversational style, Fignon's way of telling his story sucks you in, makes you feel you're being confided in. The insouciant charm with which he tells his tale makes the book a delight to read.  But that charm can be quite beguiling. It makes you forget about the things he is not telling you. For all the intimacy and the apparent openness, this is the story of Laurent Fignon the cyclist. The other Laurent Fignon, the real Laurent Fignon, is still hiding from view.
--- Podium Café  Read more


Even before his triumphant return to be manager for the second time, Kenny Dalglish’s relationship with Liverpool was already established as an enduring football love story, which began to grow from the moment he set foot in the Anfield dressing room after joining from Celtic in 1977. It was reciprocated by the Liverpool fans, who will never forget the goals and trophies, most especially the three European Cups, nor perhaps even more the way he held the club together through two tragedies, the first at the Heysel stadium in Brussels in 1985 and then at Hillsborough in 1989. Both disasters are explored at length and in emotional detail by Dalglish, who spells out the agony behind his decision to resign for the sake of his health and his family.

Dalglish’s contagious passion and warmth for his teammates – a number of whom became close friends – courses through My Liverpool Home. Right from a list of their nicknames to their tomfoolery, Dalglish displays abundant sincerity, generosity and excitement.
-- Natha Kumar, The Star (Malaysia)  Read more

See the shortlists for Best BiographyBest Football Book,  Best Cricket BookBest Rugby BookBest Racing Book and Best New Writer. 



Slipless in Settle puts Pearson in exalted company

Harry Pearson’s first attempt to become a journalist foundered because his spelling was too poor but he never gave up his ambition and should be the example to whom frustrated budding writers refer when faced with a knockback.

A quarter of a century or so later, Pearson has a popular column in The Guardian newspaper and books with his name on the cover now run into double figures, several titles having attracted much critical acclaim.

This week added another line to an impressive record when the brilliantly titled Slipless in Settle, his ramble around the northern league cricket circuit, beat off strong competition to win the Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award 2011, which carries a prize of £3,000.

The roll call of past winners includes EW Swanton, JM Kilburn, David Frith, David Foot and, more recently, Scyld Berry and Gideon Haigh, so Pearson is in exalted company, at least in terms of cricket writers.

Pearson said that the inspiration for the book came from his youthful cricket-watching and spoke also of his father's contribution, which was to define “the north” as everything above a line drawn from the mouth of the Mersey to the mouth of the Humber, by which definition, as judging panel chairman Vic Marks commented, Geoffrey Boycott is a southerner.

The winner beat an impressive shortlist comprising Now I'm 62 by Stephen Chalke, A Last English Summer by Duncan Hamilton, The Cricketer's Progress - From Meadowland to Mumbai by Eric Midwinter and Following On by David Tossell.

Midwinter’s epic social history of cricket was voted Wisden’s cricket Book of the Year only last week.

Pearson’s back catalogue reflects the author’s willingness to venture into a wide range of subjects.  His first, The Far Corner: A Mazy Dribble Through North-East Football, was runner-up for William Hill Sports Book of the Year, while Racing Pigs and Giant Marrows, which takes the north of England’s abundance of summer fairs and country shows as its theme,  was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book of the Year.  In a review of A Tall Man In A Low Land, in which he sought to discover what makes Belgians tick, Pete Davies, writing in The Independent, reckoned Pearson was “as funny as Bill Bryson”.

*Harry Pearson's Slipless in Settle: A Slow Turn Around Northern Cricket is published by Little Brown. Click on the link to buy.


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Robin Harvie on why his marathon obsession will run and run

There are many ways in which to publicise a book but it is fair to say that there are not many authors who would go as far -- not in the way he intends, at any rate -- as Robin Harvie.
The 34-year-old writer, who works as an editor with publishers HarperCollins, is drawing attention to his book by running in Sunday‘s London Marathon…twice.
At an hour when most of the 40,000 due to start in Greenwich Park will still be tucked up in bed, Harvie will be setting off from Big Ben and running the 26.2-mile course the wrong way round, arriving at the start line in time to turn round and do it again.
Actually it is not only to secure a few plugs for his book.  He is also raising money for the mental health charity, Mind (sponsor him at justgiving.com/robin-harvie).
But it just happens that Why We Run, an already acclaimed explanation of an obsession with distance running that began with the London Marathon of 2000, is published this week.
Harvie’s attempt to run double the distance might sound ambitious but he is not exactly short of experience, having completed more than 40 marathons and even had a crack at the extraordinary 152-mile Spartathlon from Athens to Sparta, which he had to give up after 85 miles, having felt a physical agony he could not previously imagine.
The Spartathlon is the story at the heart of Why We Run, which has been described in early reviews as “brilliantly written, deeply emotional, raw and honest”.
Harvie‘s love of running is such that he cannot really understand why, relatively speaking, so few people have run marathons.  The estimate so far is that five million people have completed the 26.2 miles somewhere on the planet, but given that the world’s population will top seven billion this year it is still a relatively small percentage.  "I just think (people who don’t run) are missing out," he says.
Read Why We Run and you may be able to decide for yourself.

Buy Why We Run from Amazon


Learn more...read interviews with Robin Hervie from the Evening Standard and The Scotsman



Beyond the headlines -- uncovering the Ian Botham phenomenon

It can almost be taken as read that a new book with Simon Wilde’s name on the cover will be an outstanding addition to the year’s crop of sports titles.

The Sunday Times cricket correspondent has been shortlisted three times for William Hill Sports Book of the Year with his portraits of Ranjitsinhji, of Shane Warne and his study of modern fast bowlers.

Now Wilde has turned his attention to Sir Ian Botham with an examination of the life and times of the great all-rounder that coincides with the 30th anniversary of Botham’s astounding contribution to the 1981 Ashes series.

His 149 not out to set up the incredible 500-1 upset at Headingley, his five wickets in 28 balls to win he Edgbaston Test from another seemingly impossible position -- these were the feats that created a national hero. But Wilde looks well beyond mere facts and figures.

Ian Botham: The Power and the Glory describes how Botham’s arrival on the international coincided with the first big influx of commercial and television revenue into sport, enabling him to leave behind the cash-strapped times he experienced after leaving state school in Yeovil at 15.

And how, in an era short on glamour and personalities, Botham brought an irresistible cocktail of talent, energy and swagger and ultimately was well rewarded.  He was a sportsman who gave the whole country a lift, proving that Britain could still produce champions, even from modest backgrounds such as his, winning a fund of goodwill that he managed to keep despite frequent brushes with controversy.

The book recalls that Botham helped win a new audience for cricket, too. Before Botham, many saw it as a staid, boring game. But ‘Beefy’ played it with an irreverent dash that stuck up two fingers at the cricket establishment.

He dressed extravagantly, favouring striped blazers and unusual hats, long hair and droopy moustaches. He got into trouble over punch-ups, drugs and girls, even earning a two-month ban from playing after admitting to smoking marijuana. And while this outraged some in the game, Botham’s behaviour made him a tabloid newspaper star.

Yet he kept on achieving remarkable things with impeccable timing and implausible frequency. He gave the media everything they needed -- for front pages and back. For the journalists assigned to follow his exploits, he was a dream -- a walking headline machine.

Publishers Simon and Schuster reveal that Wilde interviewed 100 people, including David Gower, Viv Richards, David Lloyd, Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting, to produce a unique account of Botham’s life and success within a wider cultural and political context.

Not all of Wilde’s interviewees will have been ready to eulogise cricket’s acknowledged colossus.  The input from Peter Roebuck, for example, should make interesting reading, given that Botham blamed Roebuck for the sacking of Viv Richards and Joel Garner by Somerset in 1986 and had admitted subsequently that he held his former captain in such contempt that had he found him drowning in the River Tone next to the club’s Taunton home ground he would have felt no compulsion to rescue him.

*Simon Wilde is the author of Ranji: The Strange Genius of Ranjitsinhji, of Shane Warne: Portrait of a Flawed Genius, and of Letting Rip: Fast Bowling Threat from Lillee to Waqar amongst other titles.

Ian Botham: The Power and The Glory is published on April 14 by Simon and Schuster. BUY NOW. Also available in Kindle format.


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Wisden names only four Cricketers of the Year after fifth selection is banned

Wisden Cricketers' Almanack has broken with tradition by naming only four Cricketers of the Year in its 2011 edition, instead of the usual five.
The editor, Scyld Berry, originally picked Five Cricketers of the Year as usual. However, allegations of corruption and the ICC’s independent tribunal made the choice of one of the five -- believed to be the young Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir -- unsustainable.
The player is not named in Wisden, but Berry said: “If he were exonerated, then it would be possible to reconsider the position. That's why I didn't pick anyone else instead. But as things stand, we don’t feel we can choose him. It’s all very sad.”
Amir, 18, was suspended for five years in February for his part in an alleged spot-fixing conspiracy during the fourth Test against England at Lord's last August.  The teenager has protested his innocence and has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
This is the first time since 1926 – excluding the years of World War Two when competitive cricket ceased – that Wisden has not chosen its customary five.
The four players selected in the 148th edition of Wisden – published next Thursday, April 14 – include the first Bangladeshi and Irishman to be chosen as Cricketers of the Year.
The Four are:

  • Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh ’s flamboyant opening batsman, who scored thrilling centuries in both his country’s Tests in England last summer.
  • Eoin Morgan, the Dublin-born former Ireland international, whose audacious strokeplay helped England win the World Twenty20 in 2010.
  • Chris Read, a former England wicketkeeper and still a master craftsman behind the stumps, who led Nottinghamshire to win the County Championship in 2010.
  • Jonathan Trott, one of England ’s recent Ashes heroes, who scored 1,325 Test runs in 2010, including 226 and 184 at Lord’s last summer.

Trott’s selection in Wisden 2011 means that nine of England’s latest Ashes-winning team have been Wisden Cricketers of the Year. However Alastair Cook, Man of the Series in England ’s recent Ashes victory, is not one of them. His outstanding performances in Australia were not considered because excellence in (or influence on) the previous English summer are the major criteria for the Cricketer of the Year accolade and Cook had a poor summer in 2010.
However Wisden has honoured Cook by picturing him on the cover of 2011 edition celebrating his century in Sydney ­– one of three centuries he hit among his 766 runs in the series.
Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack first announced its Cricketers of the Year in 1889. It is the oldest individual award in cricket. "Six great bowlers" were chosen in 1889, and in the early years the numbers wavered occasionally between one and nine. However, five soon became the norm: the last exception (excluding war years) was 1926, when the Five gave way to a special portrait of Jack Hobbs. Another long-established tradition is that no one can be chosen more than once.

Buy Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2011




Swann and Anderson tales to come after Gibson's Bumble success story

Busy ghostwriter Richard Gibson is putting the finishing touches to spinner Graeme Swann’s autobiography and is working with fast bowler Jimmy Anderson on another collection of memoirs from within England’s Ashes-winning dressing room.
There should be no shortage of interest in either book, although they have a tough act to follow after Gibson’s successful collaboration with larger-than-life commentator David “Bumble” Lloyd, which is due out in paperback shortly after exceeding expectations in hardback sales.
Start the Car: The World According to Bumble (HarperSport) has sold more than 32,000 copies at the last count, reflecting the affection in which the Sky Sports commentator and former England coach is held by the cricketing public.
Lloyd’s humorous down-to-earth take on matters of cricket and beyond is part of his appeal as a broadcaster and Gibson, a former Press Association cricket reporter now working as a freelance sports writer, did a fine job transferring the Bumble wit to the printed page.
Today’s ultra-professional standards don’t allow England cricketers the freedom off the field their predecessors enjoyed and the scope for outrageous antics of the kind that give ready colour to cricket biographies is reduced as a consequence.
But Swann, with a quirky sense of humour and an alternative life as lead singer in a Nottingham pub band, is as big a character as any in the England dressing room, a serious cricketer but one with a penchant for wisecracks and a willingness to play the game with a smile.
He will have interesting things to say, no doubt, about his relationship with Kepler Wessels, the earnest South African whose coaching regime at Northamptonshire prompted a disheartened Swann to move to Trent Bridge.  And about Duncan Fletcher, an England coach who was never likely to find Swann less than a challenge, particularly when he missed the team bus through oversleeping during his first senior tour.
Swann’s account of how a cat trapped underneath the floorboards forced him to make a 3am mercy dash to his local 24-hour Asda -- landing him in court on a drink-drive charge from which he was ultimately cleared -- ought to make entertaining reading too. The Swann story, published by Hodder and Stoughton, is due out in October.

Buy Start the Car: The World According to Bumble.

More information on Graeme Swann's autobiography