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Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year 2020

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Duncan Hamilton and Christopher Sandford are the joint winners of the Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year 2020.

  • Duncan Hamilton’s book about Neville Cardus and Christopher Sandford’s look at the cricketing summer of 1939 shared the spoils at this week’s Cricket Society and MCC awards ceremony
  • A virtual audience of several hundred saw 2019 winner Geoff Lemon announce the result from Melbourne. The short-listed authors attended and spoke at the ceremony
  • The six books on the short list for the 2021 competition were also announced

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.

The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus by Duncan Hamilton shares the 2020 prize with Christopher Sandford’s The Final Innings: The Cricketers of Summer 1939.

2019 winner Geoff Lemon announced the winners for 2020, recalling how his own award had brought home to him his success in connecting with readers: “It’s a joyful thing to learn that that connection has happened, and that’s why we labour over it as writers.”

Duncan Hamilton said: “I’m also accepting this award on behalf of Neville Cardus himself. The award started in 1970 – had it started in the 1920s he would probably have won it six or seven times.”

Christopher Sandford, joining from the west coast of the United States, added: “A note of respect to all those cricketers who fought for their country, in some cases never to return, but in other cases who did gloriously return to continue this most glorious of sports.”

The 2021 shortlist reflects contemporary foci on race, gender, match-fixing and short form cricket with books about the legacy of the 1970 South Africa tour and the fates of West Indian rebels, the 2010 spot betting scandal, women’s cricket in Britain and the IPL. The recollections of an English cricketer turned commentator complete an eclectic list.

Chair of Judges Robert Winder said: “The judges were spoiled for choice this year, which means that some excellent books were, with reluctance, left out. The resulting shortlist does, however, reflect the many ways in which modern cricket – and cricket writing – is changing.”

The 2019 winner was Geoff Lemon’s Steve Smith’s Men: Behind Australian Cricket’s Fall, Hardie Grant.

© Cricket World 2021