Don’t be deceived by the title…this is not a guide to playing cricket.
Actually, to quote Serong (from an interview with crime writer Sandi Wallace) “It’s a story told in the first person by a guy locked in a car boot, and headed for his own execution.”
From the first passage on the first page, I was drawn into this narrative as into no other. I love a good crime story, yet the structure of this is unusual for the genre. It is a fictional biography of Darren Keefe as he relates his cricket-playing years with his brother Walter, who rises to the top. It’s the tale of him becoming embroiled in a match-fixing scandal as he follows his more talented elder brother through the ranks to national representative level.
The book is entertaining, and a fascinating insight into the workings of the manipulation of players for match-fixing or side gambling. Darren’s fall from grace after a match accident (look for Squiggly) is secondary to his seeming naïvety when choosing friends and what he tells. But he’s content to see Walter rise through the player ranks, remembering how everything they each know about playing they learned together playing in their childhood backyard.
Then, things go seriously wrong, and the finale is awesomely disturbing. I mean, seriously unsettling, disturbing, uncomfortable, and not for the queasy. I loved it.
Reviewed by Lynne McAnulty-Street
The Rules of Backyard Cricket
by Jock Serong
Published by Text Publishing Company