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.
The Rules of Backyard Cricket is a novel of suspense in the tradition of Peter Temple’s Truth. With glorious writing harnessed to a gripping narrative, it observes celebrity, masculinity—humanity—with clear-eyed lyricism and exhilarating narrative drive.
Jock Serong lives and works on the far southwest coast of Victoria. Formerly a lawyer, he is now a features writer, and was the editor of Great Ocean Quarterly. His first novel, Quota, won the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel. His most recent novel is The Rules of Backyard Cricket. Jock is married with four children and lives in Port Fairy, Victoria.
‘Readers who have fallen in love with Australian mysteries, thrillers and crime novels have a whole world to discover with fantastic authors bringing the southern hemisphere to life…As in the UK, cricket is a national passion in Australia and Jock Serong delves into the murky world of professional sportsmen in his crime novel, The Rules of Backyard Cricket.’ Jane Harper, Daily Mail
‘The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong, while classified as ‘crime’, is a compelling literary novel dissecting toxic sporting culture and its fallout.’ Paddy O’Reilly, Australian Book Review, 2016 Books of the Year
‘The Rules of Backyard Cricket got the thumbs up from everyone.’ Favourite Fiction for 2016, Avenue Bookstore
‘My favourite reading experience of the year (and I don’t even like cricket).’ Heather Taylor Johnson, Sydney Morning Herald’s Year in Reading
‘Blow me down if I didn’t hang on every word.’ Clare Wright, Best Books of 2016, Australian
‘One of the great novels written about sport…Delicious. It’s the top read of the summer.’ Stuff NZ
‘A deeply interesting novel about sibling rivalry, family, masculinity, and the game of cricket…Serong is a talented storyteller, and he brings this unusual world to life.’ Booklist
‘Merges my childhood dreamscape of hot days and sporting ambition with a page-turning thriller set within the rot of professional sport. Beautifully Melbourne. Get on it!’ Tony Wilson
Took me right back to my own backyard cricket battles with my brother, and I couldn't shake the feeling I’d watched the Keefe brothers represent Australia in cricket.
The rules of backyard cricket
I’ve never understood the rules of cricket, despite an older brother more than once patiently explaining them to me, and I’ve never understood its draw for many people; however, after reading this book I have a sense of its power; an extraordinary reaction to elicit from a middle aged, female intellectual who doesn’t usually read crime thrillers. Brilliant!
Maybe only 4.5 stars for non-cricket fans
Australian ex-lawyer turned writer and magazine editor. His first effort, 'Quota' (2015), was a mystery about abalone fishermen in the author's stamping ground of coastal Victoria and is well worth a look.
Two brothers, both cricket prodigies, grow up in a poor family in Melbourne's western suburbs. As the book opens, the younger and wilder one, Darren, is in the boot of a car, awaiting execution by acquaintances on the seamy side (Sorry). You might say he survived the Big Bash but expects to be turned to Ashes quite soon (Sorry again). During the ride, our boy relives his life, telling the story of the two brothers from his perspective, while struggling to get free. His older brother Wally is dour, conventional and well behaved. Darren makes it to First Class cricket first, but Wally becomes Captain of the national team and marries well. With Darren's career cut short by injury, Wally goes from strength to strength, until a family tragedy sets his wife on the path to alcoholism and their marriage in the direction of the rocks. All is not as it seems with Wally even apart from that. Parental advisory: cricket betting scandal.
The prose is extremely well-crafted, peppered with rich descriptions and glorious metaphors unlikely to emerge from the mouth of the knockabout lad being described, but that hardly matters.
A pleasure to read.