The Rules of Backyard Cricket: A Gentlemen’s Game, My Foot!!



Today’s book might be a little baffling to my North American readers, but stick with it…things might start to make sense.  We received The Rules of Backyard Cricket from Text Publishing via Netgalley and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

It starts in a suburban backyard with Darren Keefe and his older brother, sons of a fierce and gutsy single mother. The endless glow of summer, the bottomless fury of contest. All the love and hatred in two small bodies poured into the rules of a made-up game.

Darren has two big talents: cricket and trouble. No surprise that he becomes an Australian sporting star of the bad-boy variety—one of those men who’s always got away with things and just keeps getting.

Until the day we meet him, middle aged, in the boot of a car. Gagged, cable-tied, a bullet in his knee. Everything pointing towards a shallow grave.

Not being known for having a deep and abiding love of cricket, some of you may be wondering why on Earth I would have been interested in reading a book that clearly states that cricket will be involved in the story.  Well, Judgey McJudgerson, even though I find watching professional cricket interminably boring (except for Big Bash…that’s only mildly boring), Backyard Cricket, as every Australian knows, is a far more interesting game.  And so I decided to give this one a go.

I am in two minds.

The book flips between Darren’s present predicament of being locked, against his will, in a car boot, zooming toward probable death (or at least social unpleasantness), and his entire life story before the present moment, beginning with his and his brother’s exploits as young cricketers.  As well as dastardly deeds, violence, gambling, untimely death, failed relationships, secrecy and betrayal, there is an awful lot of cricket in this book.

An awful lot of cricket.

From the backyard variety to the professional international circuit, this book is chock full of cricketing parlance.

I did not particularly enjoy the cricket bits.  Of which there were a lot.

I did, however, enjoy the suspenseful, stuck-in-the-boot-on-the-way-to-unsightly-death bits and there were enough of these to keep me reading.  The redeeming bit of the story for me was definitely the final few chapters which featured only minor cricket symbolism, but a lot of excitement and danger and a hugely satisfying, ambiguous-but-not-really ending that only a mastermind of bookish misery could concoct.

Well played, Jock Serong.

If you enjoy reading about cricket and you love suspense and backstabbing and secrecy and so on as well – my, you’ll be in for a treat with this one.

And just in time for cricket season, too.

Until next time,