Duncan Hamilton has become the first author to win three William Hill ‘Sports Book of the Year’ (SBOTY) awards, as judges recognised his biography of cricket correspondent Neville Cardus as 2019’s best sports literature.
Yesterday at London’s Horseguards Hotel, William Hill judges presented Hamilton with his third SBOTY award, having previously won in 2007 for ‘Provided You Don’t Kiss Me’ and 2009 for ‘Harold Larwood: The Authorized Biography’.
Praising ‘The Great Romantic: Cricket and the Golden Age of Neville Cardus’ – judges stated that Hamilton had presented a comprehensive biography of a writer who would change the way sports journalism and writing was viewed and understood.
Writing and reporting on cricket during the 1940-70s, Cardus’ work would transcend sports audiences at a time of great social change within UK society.
Amongst those who venerated Cardus were PG Wodehouse, John Arlott, Harold Pinter, JB Priestley and Donald Bradman.
In The Great Romantic, Hamilton demonstrated how Cardus popularised cricket writing. In Cardus’ words, to people who ‘didn’t know a leg-break from the pavilion cat at Lord’s’ he became a star in his own right with exquisite phrase-making, disdain for statistics and a penchant for literary and musical allusions.
Alyson Rudd, Chair of SBOTY Judges, commented: “The judges were bowled over by the quality of the writing and the way in which Hamilton brings to life the characters that defined cricket between the two world wars. The author explains that Neville Cardus was unknowable but this book does a very fine job indeed of guiding us through his career and motivations.”