Real Jeeves up for cricket society and MCC book of the year
The Real Jeeves by Brian Halford has been shortlisted for the Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award for 2014.
The six-strong shortlist list includes two books with links to PG Wodehouse. One tells the story of the real Percy Jeeves, the other fields a latter-day Authors XI of notables including Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens.
Other nominees include John Barclay who writes about cricketers he has known, and Malcolm Knox who addresses the career of Don Bradman. Books about the history of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack and Indian cricket in its wider national context complete the list.
Chair of judges Vic Marks said, "This has to be the most eclectic short list in my judging experience. It will be tricky to find a winner from such a contrasting selection of books. Some good ones have missed the cut. Fortunately we have a wise panel of judges who are up to the task."
The Real Jeeves - published by Pitch Publishing - tells the story of a young cricketer whose glorious life was snuffed out, but whose name will live forever.
Plucked from country-house cricket, all-rounder Percy Jeeves was to outshine the Golden Age's greats over two seasons with Warwickshire, clean bowling Jack Hobbs, hitting Wilfred Rhodes for six and outclassing England captain Plum Warner.
In September 1914, Jeeves bowled Warwickshire to victory over champions Surrey. It was his 50th first-class match - and his last. Halford carefully traces Percy's life from idyllic childhood via county cricket into the nightmare of war.
Excerpts from battalion diaries detail the horrors of the Western Front, and ultimately his demise on the Somme.
Yet Percy Jeeves' name lived on thanks to PG Wodehouse, who saw him play at Cheltenham in 1913 and was so impressed he noted the name for a character who shared the modest Yorkshireman's immaculate conduct and appearance.
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, Gideon Haigh said: "Shane Warne is every bit as much fun to write about as he was to watch, and would be pleased to be recognised in this way – he had never managed to get his name on the Honours Board at Lord's."
Chris Waters, who won in 2012 for his book about Fred Trueman, commented upon accepting the award: "I genuinely didn't expect to win, which you probably gathered from my garbled speech, but it is an award that I will always treasure."
The £3000 for the winner, and certificates for all the shortlisted books, will be presented at an awards evening in the Long Room at Lord's on Friday 9th May.
A sell-out audience of 200 people will comprise Members of the Cricket Society and MCC, the shortlisted authors, publishers, and some of today's finest cricket writers and journalists.