Books 'reflect passion and knowledge' - judges' chair Vic Marks
The list comprises books by cricket presenter Mark Nicholas and journalist Emma John, who both write about their love for and fascination with cricket, a couple of titles by ex-England players in Graeme Fowler and Alan Butcher, the latest from the brilliant Gideon Haigh and a portrait of Pakistan cricket by Peter Oborne and Richard Heller.
The competition, run by the Cricket Society since 1970 and in partnership with MCC since 2009, is for books nominated by MCC and Cricket Society Members, and is highly regarded by writers and publishers.
Last year’s winner was Simon Lister’s Fire in Babylon: How the West Indies Cricket Team Brought a People to its Feet. Dan Waddell won in 2015 with Field of Shadows: The English Cricket Tour of Nazi Germany 1937.
The six books on the shortlist are:
The Good Murunghu (Pitch Publishing), in which former England batsman Alan Butcher writes about his experiences as a coach amid the wreckage of cricket in Zimbabwe.
Graeme Fowler’s Absolutely Foxed (Simon & Schuster), in which the ex-England opener recalls his career as a player, talks about his more recent time as a university centre of excellence coach and also opens up about his struggle to live with depression.
Gideon Haigh’s Stroke of Genius (Simon & Schuster), a wonderful portrait of Victor Trumper, generally regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, the title of which draws on the iconic image captured by the English cricketer abnd photographer George Beldam in 1905, which appears on the cover, of Trumper striding forward to drive.
Richard Heller and Peter Oborne’s White on Green: A Portrait of Pakistan Cricket (Simon & Schuster), a enjoyable collection of stories about Pakistan cricket and cricketers, notably for the depth of background research and some remarkable interviews.
Emma John’s Following On: A Memoir of Teenage Obsession and Terrible Cricket (Wisden), in which the author, now deputy editor of the Observer magazine, goes back to the fascination with cricket that helped launch her career. A fine writer, Emma was the first woman to win an award for sports journalism.
Finally, Mark Nicholas’ A Beautiful Game, My love affair with cricket (Allen & Unwin), in which the former Hampshire captain and accomplished cricket broadcaster looks back on how the game has shaped his life.
Eleven books – nominated by either Cricket Society or MCC members (not publishers) – were accepted for the long list.
They were whittled down to six by a panel of judges independently chaired by writer, broadcaster and former England and Somerset cricketer Marks. The other judges are David Kynaston and Stephen Fay for the MCC, and John Symons and Chris Lowe for the The Cricket Society. Nigel Hancock, chairman of The Cricket Society, is the competition’s administrator.
The five books that did not make the cut were Aravind Adiga’s Selection Day (Pan Macmillan), Keith and Jennifer Booth’s Rebel with a Cause, The Life and Times of Jack Crawford (Chequered Flag), Jon Hotten’s The Meaning of Cricket (Yellow Jersey Press), Andrew Murtagh’s Test of Character (Pitch Publishing) and Jonathan Trott's Unguarded: My Autobiography (Sphere Little, Brown), written with George Dobell.
The £3,000 prize for the winner, and certificates for all the shortlisted books, will be presented at an awards evening in the Long Room at Lord’s on Wednesday April 19 in front of an audience of 200 people, which will comprise members of the Cricket Society and MCC, the shortlisted authors and publishers, as well as some of today’s finest cricket writers and journalists.
The Cricket Society – www.cricketsociety.com and Twitter @CricketSociety – encourages a love of cricket through playing, watching, reading and listening. It supports young cricketers, makes annual awards, holds regular meetings, publishes an acclaimed Journal and Bulletin and has its own cricket team.
MCC is the custodian of the Laws and Spirit of Cricket, an innovative independent voice in world cricket, and a passionate promoter of the game. It is also the world’s most active cricket-playing club and the owner of Lord’s – the Home of Cricket.