Updated: Dec 10, 2021
The Rules of Backyard Cricket.
By Jock Serong
The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong
Two brothers battle their way through childhood in Australia with a single mum and no spare cash. Every ounce of rage, frustration, and love bubbles up and boils over in the two tiny bodies as they pledge their entire lives to sport. It’s the only thing that keeps the younger boy out of jail and the only thing that drags the pair of them out of poverty as the narrative follows the parallels in the boys’ lives between cricket and family. This is not a novel about sport, but a novel about family and all the things we do to protect the people we love. All the things, including violence.
I don’t like cricket. It’s a game that’s like baseball with two batters working together against a group of fielders, and it literally lasts for days. Literally. I don’t like cricket, but I LOVED this book. There are your standard sports metaphors for determination and success, but the book follows three decades of brotherhood, and their cricketing achievements are just reflections of the stages of their lives. One brother gets arrested, the other gets married. One brother has children, the other develops an addiction. One brother plays cricket for Australia the other is dropped from the team. Even the descriptions of the sports, from broken fingers to financial penalties, are captivating for all readers with any level of interest in sport, including none.
Jock Serong’s writing strength is in his character’s relationship to time. Jock must know the lives of each of his fictional characters as well as he knows his own because the depth of history behind everyone is incredible. The reader feels as though these lives truly exist, and we’re just reading about selected moments. With a rich ancestry behind every personality, you’ll find yourself invested in the lives of even the smallest character. If Serong isn’t Australia’s top drama-driven thriller writer by the time you read this, he will be soon.