Pitch author Ashley Gray has made history, as the first authors to be highly commended by the Cricket Writers' Club as they announced their annual awards.

Gray missed out to Duncan Hamilton in the Book Award for 2020, but the club took the unprecedented step of commending The Unforgiven, due to the incredible strength of this year's titles.

Their press release said, 'Acknowledging the strength of the competition, the panel decided for the first time to highly commend a second book, The Unforgiven, by Ashley Gray, from Pitch Publishing.

'Gray tracked down the so-called West Indian ‘rebels’ who toured South Africa in the 1980s to discover the reasons behind the decision to visit, and the long-term consequences.'

Hamilton was named winner of the CWC Derek Hodgson Book Award for 2020 in a unique moment for the highly-acclaimed author.

His biography of Neville Cardus, The Great Romantic, published by Hodder & Stoughton, was chosen from a shortlist of six by a panel representing the Cricket Writers’ Club.

The Unforgiven has also been longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year.

The Unforgiven

In the early 80s, 20 black West Indian cricketers were paid more than $100,000 each to take part in rebel tours of apartheid South Africa. Some, such as Lawrence Rowe and Alvin Kallicharran, were household names in the Caribbean and around the world, while others were fringe players seeking a short cut out of poverty.

All would be condemned by the international cricketing fraternity. Accused of pocketing 'blood money' in order to prop up a regime that systematically discriminated against people of their own colour, they were banned for life from playing the sport they loved.

In many cases, they were shunned by their fellow countrymen. A few turned to drugs and gangs, some turned to God - and others found themselves begging on the streets and dealing with mental illness.

Forgotten and neglected for close to four decades, The Unforgiven tells their often-tragic stories through face-to-face interviews that explore the human cost of an onerous decision made early in these young men's lives.

"Sometimes it helps to come at these things from an angle. There's an excellent new book about cricket and race called The Unforgiven by the Australian writer Ashley Gray. The Unforgiven tells the story of West Indian rebel tours to apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, focusing on the later lives of those players who took the Blood Rand." - Barney Ronay, The Guardian