Debutant cricket writer, and political editor of The Economist, James Astill was on Friday night named the winner of the Cricket Society-MCC Book of the Year award for "The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India".
Astill's book about Indian cricket in a wider national context beat off strong opposition from five other titles, including much liked volumes about the real Percy Jeeves and by an Authors Cricket Club of notables including Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens.
He received certificates and a £3000 award presented by England’s fourth oldest living test cricketer Hubert Doggart in a packed Long Room at Lord's.
This 45 year old competition, run in partnership between The Cricket Society and MCC since 2009, has become a highlight of the cricketing year. Friday’s audience heard that it has been extended for at least another three years to 2017.
A delighted Astill said: "I am thrilled to win the Award and hope I have shed some light on much that is often hard for outsiders to India to fathom . The shared experience of cricket there could sometimes be the only shaft of light in the grim lives of ordinary people."
Chair of judges Vic Marks surveyed the books considered by the judges, outlined the challenges of choosing the short list and then a winner, and commented in detail on each of the six finalists.
He complimented Astill's book for its exploration of India as well as its cricket. In a keynote address, author and journalist Rob Steen paid tribute to the golden days of the cricketing press box with personal memories of some great characters.
The competition, run by The Cricket Society since 1970 and in partnership with MCC since 2009, is for books nominated by Members - not publishers - and is highly regarded.
A previous delighted winner, former Wisden editor Scyld Berry, hailed his award as "cricket’s seal of literary approval."