Monday, 25 October 2010

Read: Worth the Wait

I haven't done any writing on a large scale (more than a couple of paragraphs or a bunch of dot points) since high school, and boy-o can you tell. Since the idea of this blog was to get back into the habit, I'm releasing this anyway, after weeks of trying and failing miserably to improve it to some kind of readability. You have been warned. Rest assured that I am suitably embarrassed and am taking any steps I can to return my writing quality to its former glory.


Inspired by a terrifying list of books to read and the South Australian Redbacks participation in the Champions League Twenty20 last month, I sat down to read Worth the Wait, an autobiography by much-loved former redbacks captain and all-round nice guy, Darren Lehmann.

Before we get started, it's worth mentioning that Darren Lehmann was a childhood hero of mine, the implacable rock in a South Australian team that, more often than not, much more often than not, turned out to be full of nothing else but sand. I'm also a big fan of autobiographies, having had my thirst for the first-person narrative inspired by the wonderful Harpo Speaks, so I knew what I was getting myself in for.

Like the Redbacks Champions League campaign, though it looked a bit rough around the edges, it was off to a promising start. The depiction of a young Lehmann and his sudden rise from local, to grade, to state cricket had just as much promise as the Redbacks downing of the local favourite Highveld Lions by 11 runs. The writing certainly let a few go through to the keeper, and there were a few false starts, but it was a good solid victory and something to build on for the rest of the competition.

Anecdotes from his early life in the South Australian team, his double life as a hot-shot middle-order batsmen by weekend and a factory worker in Adelaide's disreputable Northern suburbs during the week were all top notch and blended together to give the book a flying start, like the Redback's excellent opening partnership in their second game against the high-profile Mumbai Indians. But I had the sinking feeling that the enthusiasm being put into this part of the competition meant that it couldn't possibly last.

Then came the crescendo, the fight with the Bangalore Challengers for the top spot in the group, the 1994/95 South Australian Sheffield Shield and Lehmann's One Day International career. Sure, we won, but it could have definitely been portrayed...better. The way it was all glossed felt like it was just a prologue to something more, something just around the corner where all the actual meat in the book was going to come, where we could really let our batsmen off the leash to play all the big shots and score a massive victory.

Only, it never came. For Lehmann, the focus of the book was his playing for Australia in Tests and the tragic death of David Hookes, his mentor and the undisputed King of South Australian cricket, in a bar-room brawl. Like South Australia's game against Guyana in the Twenty20, there was a lot of build up and a lot of excitement, but unlike the earlier sections it didn't get the audience involved, and generally involved some pretty sad cricket. There were some fun little anecdotes about the other members of the Australian team at the time, but nothing worth reading the whole book for.

The aftermath, of course, is tragic. For South Australia, they were knocked out of the competition in the semi-final by the Warriors, who went on to lose to Chennai in the final. For Lehmann, this book was written during the tour of Sri Lanka in 2005-06and ends with a little note of hope for his career in the future and prospects as a leader in the Australian team he'd fought for so long to get into. Little did he know, but he had just 6 tests left in his career before he was unceremoniously dropped, never again to wear the Baggy Green.

So, Worth the Wait wasn't, but it was probably worth the $8 I paid for it in a buy two, get one free deal. I'm glad it wasn't ghost-written, since it was at least genuine and heart-felt, but when you wade through a book like this you can see why ghost-writing is such an important part of the industry.

If anyone is interested in owning it, perhaps in the vain hope of finding out a little about one of your favourite cricketers through the eyes of one of mine, I'd be happy to post it to you, as I don't feel any particular need to keep it in my collection.


Favourite Quote:
Glenn McGrath is a pest...You will be sitting there minding your own business and suddenly a sugar sachet will be emptied in your hair or a feather will be tickling you behind the ear and you think it's a fly. He basically gets bored very quickly and takes it out on everyone else. It must be a fast bowler thing because Merv hughes used to do exactly the same thing.

Page 123:
Gone are the times when you would start enjoying the first beer five minutes after the last ball was bowled. Now there are ice baths, warm-down sessions, all stuff I have to say I don't enjoy because the ice baths are too bloody cold!

Reading Project Status
Read: 1/74
Australian Ratio: 1:0
Next Up: Songs of the Dying Earth, G.R.R. Martin et al.

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