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May 11, 2014
James Astill, the political editor of The Economist, has won the Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year award for 2014. Astill received the award in the Long Room at Lord's for his book about the rise of Indian cricket: The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India.
Astill, who was similarly honoured by the Cricket Writers Club, received certificates and a £3000 award, presented by England's fourth oldest living Test cricketer Hubert Doggart.
This 45-year-old competition, which has been 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.
Five of the shortlisted authors, and a representative of the sixth, spoke about their work. A delighted Astill said: "I am thrilled to have won this award, the royal seal of approval for cricket writers. Trying to make sense of India's mass cricket habit, from the corridors of cricketing power to the lowliest Mumbai slum, was monumentally gratifying. Now to be recognised in this way is pure joy."
Chair of judges Vic Marks, cricket writer and former England cricketer, complimented Astill's first cricket work for its exploration of India as well as its cricket.
The competition, run by The Cricket Society since 1970, is for books nominated by members and not publishers. A previous winner, former Wisden editor Scyld Berry, hailed his award as "cricket's seal of literary approval." Another winner did not realize the award had monetary value too and a prolonged search of the Lord's dustbins failed to locate his excitedly discarded winning cheque.
Shortlist: James Astill: The Great Tamasha, Cricket Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India (Bloomsbury); Authors Cricket Club: The Authors XI, 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 (Robson Press); Robert Winder: The Little Wonder, The Remarkable History of Wisden. (Bloomsbury).
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