The Real Jeeves shortlisted for MCC-Cricket Society Book of the Year award

The poignant story of Percy Jeeves, the cricketer whose name became immortalised in fiction, is a well-deserved contender for the MCC-Cricket Society Book of the Year award, the winner of which will be revealed at a ceremony in the Long Room at Lord's a week today.

The Real Jeeves, written by Brian Halford, the Birmingham Mail's widely respected cricket writer, is a thoroughly researched and wonderfully crafted life of a Warwickshire cricketer who would have played many Test matches for England had his career - and, tragically, his life - not been cut short by the First World War.

Percy Jeeves, a Yorkshireman by birth, scored 765 runs and took 106 wickets in his debut season in 1913. By the end of his second season, though, he had volunteered for service and joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.   He was shipped off to fight on the Western Front and never returned, one among tens of thousands of soldiers whose fate was recorded as missing, presumed killed, during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

He played 50 first-class cricket matches exactly, one of which happened to be witnessed by P G Wodehouse, the author, who took great pleasure from watching cricket and was so impressed by the demeanour as much as the skill of Percy Jeeves that when he set about creating his comic English gentleman, Bertie Wooster, he chose Jeeves as the name for Wooster's valet.

There are six titles shortlisted for the MCC-Cricket Society Award.  To be judged alongside Brian Halford's book are:

The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India, by James Astill (Wisden Sports Writing).

The Authors XI: A Season of English Cricket from Hackney to Hambledon, by The Authors Cricket Club (John Wisden & Co).

Lost in the Long Grass, by John Barclay (Fairfield Books).

Bradman's War: How the 1948 Invincibles Turned the Cricket Pitch into a Battlefield, by Malcolm Knox (The Robson Press).

The Little Wonder: The Remarkable History of Wisden, by Robert Winder (John Wisden & Co).

The judges for the 2014 competition are chaired by Vic Marks, the former England spin bowler and current Observer cricket correspondent who is a Cricket Society vice-president. The panel comprises John Symons and Chris Lowe, the judges nominated by the Cricket Society, alongside the MCC nominees David Kynaston and Stephen Fay.

Halford and Warwickshire captain Jim Troughton are appearing this evening at the Bear Pit Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, where they will discuss The Real Jeeves as part of Stratford Literary Festival.  Jim's father David, a Royal Shakespeare Company actor, will deliver readings from the book.

The Real Jeeves, by Brian Halford (Pitch Publishing) is available from Amazon, WHSmith and Waterstones.


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