The Cricket Writers’ Club has announced its shortlist of six for the annual Derek Hodgson Cricket Book Award. The list reflects the breadth of writing on cricket with familiar names contesting the prize against first-time authors. Stephen Chalke has already won twice with The Way it Was (2009) and Summer’s Crown (2015). Duncan Hamilton’s acclaimed biography of Neville Cardus scooped the William Hill award last year while Tim Wigmore and Freddie Wilde received the Wisden prize five months ago for their smart analysis of the format that has revolutionised the sport.

The judges – Richard Hobson (chair), Tanya Aldred, Murray Hedgcock, Raf Nicholson and Richard Whitehead – were also impressed with the scholarly work of Prashant Kidambi in researching the 1911 All India tour of England and its context, the tenacity of Ashley Gray in tracking down the so-called ‘Rebel’ West Indian players who visited South Africa in the 1980s, and the approach of Michael Bates and Tom Huelin in reflecting the dilemma of the specialist wicketkeeper in the modern day. 

“This must be the most varied shortlist in the 13 years since the Cricket Writers’ Club established the award,” Hobson said. “It presents us with a significant challenge in pitting, say, the passion in the writing of Chalke against the style of Hamilton, the thoroughness of Kidambi and originality of Bates. Wigmore and Wilde offer genuine insight into the growth of 20-over cricket while Gray has dealt sensitively with a thought-provoking account of a largely overlooked topic.” 

The ‘year’ runs from July 1 2019 to June 30 2020, and the winner of the £400 prize will be announced in October.

Derek Hodgson Book Award 2020 – Shortlist

Michael Bates and Tom Huelin, Keeping Up: Michael Bates, the Story of a Specialist Wicketkeeper, independently published

Stephen Chalke, Through the Remembered Gate, Fairfield Books

Ashley Gray, The Unforgiven: Mercenaries or Missionaries?, Pitch Publications

Duncan Hamilton, The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus, Hodder & Stoughton

Prashant Kidambi, Cricket Country: An Indian Odyssey in the Age of Empire, Oxford University Press

Tim Wigmore and Freddie Wilde, Cricket 2.0: Inside the T20 Revolution, Polaris Publishing