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Gideon Haigh wins Cricket Society-MCC Book of the Year for brilliant portrait of Shane Warne

The much-decorated Australian cricket writer Gideon Haigh has won the Cricket Society and MCC's Book of the Year Award for 2013 with On Warne, his portrait of the great Australian leg-spinner, Shane Warne.


Haigh's insightful technical analysis of the mechanics of Warne's bowling, combined with brilliantly perceptive views of the cricketer's eventful life in cricket both on and off the field, impressed a panel of judges chaired by former Somerset and England off-spinner Vic Marks, who now writes for the Observer and Guardian newspapers.

It was judged to be the best in a shortlist of six that comprised Settling the Score, by Peter Gibbs; The Plan, by Steve James; Fibber in the Heat, by Miles Jupp; Never a Gentleman's Game, by Malcolm Knox; and A Remarkable Man: the Story of George Chesterton, by Andrew Murtagh.

Haigh has written more than 30 books and won numerous awards, including the Jack Pollard Trophy, the annual literary prize of the Australian Cricket Society, on five occasions. His collected writings on Ashes series have become an event in their own right in sports publishing.  His account of the 2005 Ashes was Wisden's Book of the Year.

The Guardian's Richard Williams described Haigh as "the most gifted cricket essayist of his generation" and there are few who would quibble with that.  On Warne, published by Simon & Schuster, is a series of essays, each focusing on a different aspect of Warne's life and talent, each notable for elegant but precise writing and originality of thought.

Haigh stands out among writers for his ability to sift through autobiographical evidence, separating fact from speculation, in order to produce objective, unbiased analysis.  Haigh glosses over no aspect of Warne's colourful personal life but makes a point of drawing attention to good judgments made as well as bad ones.

Writing in The Independent on Sunday, the reviewer Simon Redfern described On Warne as "by a distance the best attempt so far to explore the Aussie genius's art and personality."

The panel chaired by Vic Marks was made up of John Symons and Chris Lowe, who were nominated by the Cricket Society, alongside the MCC's nominated pair, David Kynaston and Stephen Fay.

On Warne, by Gideon Haigh is published by Simon & Schuster.

Gideon Haigh was born in London and brought up in Geelong, the port city in Victoria, Australia.  He has been a journalist for more than 30 years and has contributor to numerous newspapers, most recently The Times and The Australian.

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