Writer Harry Pearson has been named the winner of the prestigious Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year award, for his book, Connie: The Marvellous Life of Learie Constantine.
Pearson accepted the prestigious award, along with a £3,000 prize, at a dinner in the Long Room at Lord’s.
He beat off strong opposition from five other books, including Jonny Bairstow’s autobiography, as well as, a book about Indian Cricket and John Lazenby’s Edging Towards Darkness.
A delighted Pearson paid tribute to his predecessor as Constantine’s biographer and winner of the award in 1975, the late Gerald Howat, whose work had inspired his interest in cricket as a boy in Yorkshire.
Vic Marks surveyed the books considered by the judges, spoke about this year’s unusually tricky processes in deciding upon first the shortlist and then the winner, and commented in detail on each of the six finalists. He complimented Pearson's book for being a “properly critical and well researched” work that left the judges wanting more.
In a light-hearted keynote address, writer and editor Emma John offered her reflections on how her early militancy as an England fan had softened into a wider appreciation of the game’s beauties and nuances.
The competition, run by The Cricket Society since 1970 and in partnership with MCC since 2009, is for books nominated by Members and is highly regarded by writers and publishers.
The six books on the shortlist (alphabetically by author) were:
• Jonny Bairstow and Duncan Hamilton, A Clear Blue Sky, HarperCollins
• Stephen Chalke, In Sunshine and in Shadow: Geoff Cope and Yorkshire Cricket, Fairfield Books
• John Lazenby, Edging Towards Darkness, Bloomsbury
• Harry Pearson – Connie: The Marvellous Life of Learie Constantine, Little Brown
• Christian Ryan, Feeling is the thing that happens in 1000th of a second: a season of cricket photographer Patrick Eagar, Riverrun
• Rajdeep Sardesai, Democracy’s XI: The Great Indian Cricket Story, Juggernaut