Club Cricket Conference

Wednesday, 24th April 2024

WG Grace plays major part in Book of the Year listings

By Charles Randall

3 March 2016

The 2016 short list of six contenders for the annual Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year award contains two books on WG Grace this year.

Richard Tomlinson takes a fresh look at Grace the man, and his times, and Charlie Connelly attempts an imaginative recreation of the great cricketer's latter years up to his death during the First World War. 

This is a coveted award offering a prize of  £3,000, with a presentation to the winner in the Long Room at Lord’s on 11 April. The longstanding competition is another aspect of cricket supported by the MCC. Writing standards remain very high, and all the recommended books, including those outside the short list, would be worth a read if past trends continue, illustrating the wonderfully disparate material offered by cricket - more so, one would think, than any other sport.

The prolific author Stephen Chalke and journalist Scyld Berry, both former winners,  compete again. Chalke's book is about the county championship, a great strength of his, and Berry looks at cricket as 'the Game of Life'. Cricket in the West Indies and a forensic examination of the life and death of Peter Roebuck complete the list.

Chair of judges Vic Marks said: ''It was an extraordinary year for books about cricket. Two volumes initially strongly favoured by my judges haven’t even made the short list. One judge has referred to the possibility of fisticuffs... Our final meeting is likely to be long, but I am sure we can resolve differences amicably and come up with a worthy winner."

Entries outside the final short list look at the careers of Jack Crawford, Bob Barber, Barry Richards, Simon Jones, Don Kenyon and Grace - a third book, this time by Anthony Meredith, called WG Grace: In the Steps of a Legend. Other topics include rebel tours, cricket in South Africa and England's four captains in 1988. There is even a mystery story by Arunabha Sengupta called Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of the Ashes.

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 Dan Waddell’s Field of Shadows: The English Cricket Tour of Nazi Germany 1937. James Astill won in 2014 with The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India.

SHORTLIST (alphabetically by author):

Cricket The Game of Life: Every Reason to Celebrate (By Scyld Berry; Hodder & Stoughton)
Summer's Crown: The Story of Cricket’s County Championship (By Stephen Chalke; Fairfield Books)
About Gilbert: The Last Years of WG Grace (Charlie Connelly;  Bloomsbury)
Chasing Shadows: The Life and Death of Peter Roebuck (By Tim Lane and Elliott Cartledge; Hardie Grant)
Fire in Babylon: How the West Indies Cricket Team Brought a People to its Feet (By Simon Lister; Yellow Jersey Press)
Amazing Grace: The Man who was W.G. (By Richard Tomlinson; Little, Brown)