Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cricket Kings by William McInnes

I was going to save this to review on Oz Reading Matters but, meh, I got a drum to bang so stiff.

I first read Cricket Kings years ago when it was first published - I loved it, couldn't put it down until I reached the back cover, have done so again when Aspie teen snaffled a copy from the op shop for his very own.

Sure, it's a novel, a fictional account of a suburban cricket team and those who make up the team but it resonated with me (and a bajillion other readers) as it was Australian, based in Melbourne and, apart from featuring well-known Melbourne landmarks, it screamed with the laid-back acceptance well known in sporting circles.

And, until a couple of years ago, I would have said it was spot on.
Except a local cricket team my Aspie teen was a member of kicked him out.
The year after they'd won the premiership with him as a playing member.
I know they won the premiership cos I can trot down to his bedroom and cast my baby blues over the trophy and ribbons and team photo from that day.

The following year they had a different coach.
Heck, the following year we received no correspondence from the local cricket club at all to register to play.
Should have realised that was a possible hint then.
Aspie teen - who every member of the club knew to have a disability - was allowed to train on one day.
One day that consisted of a 2 hour training session.
After being allocated to a team, that was that.

Until a few days later when I received a phone call from the CEO telling me he was not allowed to play with the club as "he might get hit by a ball".
Shit, clear all the cricket pitches, get Warnie out of his Brighton love nest (sorry, Liz, serious cricket business this!) - CRICKETERS MIGHT GET HIT BY A BALL!!!
Call the media, stop the presses, how can we have allowed more than a century of such a DANGEROUS game to have gone unnoticed in this country...?
You may remember me mentioning it at the time....

I had a single phone call with the new coach who kept reiterating that he wanted his team to win win win win win win win win infinitum throughout the conversation and who only had the grace to lose his bored attitude when I pointed out he was discriminating against a child who was not only of Aboriginal descent but who was Autistic.
He even had the hide to admit (perhaps in an effort to prove what a caring, feeling fuck-knuckle he was) another quite smaller child was terrified of facing the bowler but he forced him, in tears, to bat to "get the best out of him".
I can feel the lurve he has for his players from this distance...
I followed it up with the discrimination board but my hard evidence was flimsy and it was only increasing Aspie teen's anxiety at the time so I dropped it.

Thankfully another local cricket team called and offered Aspie teen a spot on their team.
They didn't win the premiership that year, they came 2nd but they all freaking well enjoyed the game.
Which is the message behind William McInnes book; local cricket players who don't take themselves seriously, who enjoy the game and who put other people first - old fashioned morals , certainly, but morals that will certainly see satisfaction from all teams and all players at the end of the day.

Go buy it, grab a second hand copy if it comes your way, give it as a pressie for your wife/aunt/sister/mother in law - who will probably enjoy it just as much, if not more, than any typical male cricket tragic -  then beg/borrow or steal it to read.

Even if cricket isn't your bag, give it a whirl, it's not about the sport but the people who bring the very best of themselves to create a team to become the best of all things.
And they are the true Kings, whether they be of cricket, dog-walking, crochet or archaeology .


  1. Sport isn't my thing, at all, so I don't usually buy or borrow books about it, but I'll search this one out.

  2. Well if it's a good yarn to read cricket or not sounds good to me. I like the One Dayers the three Dayers have me ending up in snoresville for a week after the game is over. My Dad loved his cricket when the match was on the kids knew when to keep it zipped. I just learned to sit with him and watch it. As for the rules I'm still none the wiser but it's still fun to watch the one dayers that is more action I think.

  3. I'm so shocked to think that until that coach so bravely spoke out, cricketers being hit by balls was unknown!! Amazing ...!!!

    Seriously, it's scary to think people like that are allowed to influence our youth. Still, I guess they give us the chance to practice anger management skills ...

  4. We have a fellow here, part of a gospel group, really loves the Lord. He's involved in kid's sports. He's a screamer. I saw him grab ahold of his kid's face mask and scream in his face, shaking the face mask as he did so. He also screams at parents, and he screams at refs. He's rude and he swears. Some teams would not allow him to coach. My take? If he loved God like he said he did, such behavior would have been so shameful to him, he'd have quit coaching before they came to him and MADE him do so.

    I thought it was America. To find out that it happens around the world is quite disappointing. Did you ever notice the folks who care most about 'win, win, win!' are the biggest losers, losers, losers?

  5. sounds like a book CJ's ex soccer coach should read.... ;)

  6. rolls eyes at the comment that aspie teen may get hit by a ball. Really that coach cleary had his foot engaged so far in this mouth that it cut off the circulation to what was left os his brain. The book sounds quite interesting and I like the bit at the end where you tied Aspie teens experience in the new team to the book. I think a lot of small minded and win at any costs coaches need to read this!!

  7. Pretty good post. Ive really enjoyed browsing your website posts. Whatever the case I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon! Thanks a lot, I'll try to visit often. Merry Chrismas!