The real Percy Jeeves, Don Bradman and John Wisden are among the contenders for the coveted annual Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award.
The six-strong list includes two books with links to PG Wodehouse and features one from Australia, are in the frame for the £3000 prize, which will be presented to the winner on Friday 9 May in the Long Room at Lord’s.
A sell-out audience of 200 people will comprise Members of the Cricket Society and MCC, the shortlisted authors, publishers, and some of today’s finest cricket writers and journalists.
One tells the story of the real Percy Jeeves, the other fields a latter-day Authors XI of notables including Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens. Other nominees include John Barclay who writes about cricketers he has known, and Malcolm Knox who addresses the career of Don Bradman.
Books about the history of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and Indian cricket in its wider national context complete the list.
Chair of judges Vic Marks said: "This has to be the most eclectic short list in my judging experience. It will be tricky to find a winner from such a contrasting selection of books. Some good ones have missed the cut. Fortunately we have a wise panel of judges who are up to the task."
Full list of nominees
- James Astill: The Great Tamasha, Cricket Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India. Bloomsbury
- Authors Cricket Club: A Season of English Cricket from Hackney to Hambledon. Bloomsbury
- John Barclay: Lost in the Long Grass. Fairfield Books
- Brian Halford: The Real Jeeves, The Cricketer Who Gave His Life for His Country and His Name to a Legend. Pitch Publishing
- Malcolm Knox: Bradman’s War; by Malcolm Knox. The Robson Press
- Robert Winder: The Little Wonder, The Remarkable History of Wisden. Bloomsbury
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.
Seventeen books – nominated by either Cricket Society or MCC members (not publishers) – were accepted for the long list and whittled down to six by a panel of judges independently chaired by writer and broadcaster and former England and Somerset cricketer Vic Marks.
The other judges are David Kynaston and Stephen Fay (MCC) and John Symons and Chris Lowe (The Cricket Society). Nigel Hancock is the competition’s administrator.
The Cricket Society 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 has a cricket team.
The MCC Library and Archive contains the largest publicly available collection of cricket books and records in the world. The collection spans over 20,000 volumes from the latest books and magazines to rare editions and pamphlets from the game’s earliest days.
It regularly acquires new volumes from all over the world and also contains a complete set of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. Used by journalists, academics and students alike, the Library and Archive is open by appointment from Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm.