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The Rules of Backyard Cricket

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,626 ratings  ·  247 reviews
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
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 29th 2016 by Text Publishing
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  1,626 ratings  ·  247 reviews

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Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting one! To start with, the main character is telling the story from the boot of a car where he is bound and gagged and shot through one knee. Not a good way to be.
His story begins in the backyard of his childhood home, playing cricket with his older brother and then carries us forward through the life he was living until just before things turned really bad. Hence the kneecapping and the car boot.
It was all quite fascinating! The author writes beautifully about a childho
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sports fans, crime fans, cricket tragics
“Sport goes to the heart of everything. If you can reach inside it and f**k with its innards, you’re actually messing with society . . . Bigger than drugs. Bigger than hookers and porn, because people shy away, they can smell the desperation. But the same people will go on consuming sport long after they know it’s rotten to the core. They’re insatiable.”

It could be any sport, but this is Melbourne and this is cricket. You've probably heard, when someone cheats, “But that’s not cricket!” mean
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“I no longer know where this ritual came from: the bat, the tennis ball, the twelve metres of shorn grass. There’s a line somewhere in any childhood. Before the line, all knowledge and habit is contributed by adults. How to eat with a fork, wash your face, wipe your bum. On the other side of the line, the magpie child starts to gather and collect from everywhere. How to swear. How to kiss a girl. Where you go to die. Backyard cricket must have been absorbed on the parental side of that line”

Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the tale of two brothers, growing up together in Melbourne, playing backyard cricket and going on to International careers in cricket. But they are two very different brothers, Wally serious and conscientious who would go on to be the team captain and Darren the larrikin and party boy who would go on to be the team clown. Unfortunately for Darren, this haphazard life and neglect of the people around him leads to serious consequences and at the opening of the book, he finds himself tied u ...more

Darren Keefe and his older brother Wally had been keen cricketers from a very young age. Hitting the ball backward and forward in their back yard, they learned everything they could while the competition between them was fierce. Their mum was a constant support; a single mother she worked hard to supply them with all they needed to have a happy life growing up.

As the boys grew into men, their propensity for cricket continued. Wally and Darren both ended up in senior teams and while Wally we
You don’t have to be a cricket fanatic to read and enjoy this book, but I think it would help to at least understand a bit about the game. Luckily I went through a cricket-mad phase as a kid, and this helped to pull me through the sometimes-dense descriptions of matches, styles and administration that appeared throughout the story.

Wally and Darren Keefe grew up in a single-parent family in the western suburbs of Melbourne. They had a large backyard and an interested and supportive mum, so both w
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shit, that was good. The end
Marty Fried
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an unusual book! It starts off with a bang - a guy tied up in the trunk of a car with a gunshot hole in his knee on the way to some place, presumably his death - calmly telling the story of his life, and hopefully how he ended up where he is. That got my attention, but it was downhill for me for over half the book. It was a lot about cricket, a sport I know absolutely nothing about and thought was much tamer than it appears to be in this book. I skimmed over a lot of it, trying to gleam as ...more
Text Publishing
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
‘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

‘Merges my childhood dreamscape of hot days and sporting ambition with a page-turning thriller set within rot of pro
Angela Savage
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Rules of Backyard Cricket had me in its grip from the first bounce. No amount of sledging from my opponents (read 'family members demanding my time and attention') could distract me from its thrall. Even for someone as disinterested as me in the actual sport of cricket, this novel is an absolute winner.

The back cover blurb that draws a parallel between The Rules of Backyard Cricket and Peter Temple's best work is no exaggeration. Serong pulls off what I consider an Australian crime writer's
Aug 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Rules of Backyard Cricket – Brutal and Brilliant Literary Crime

Jock Serong is the award winning writer of The Rules of Backyard Cricket, which is one of the most brutal and brilliant literary crime novels of the year. Serong clearly is one the boldest new voices in Australian literary circles and The Rules of Backyard Cricket should endear him to a wider audience here in England.

Darren & Wally Keefe are talented cricketers who grew up playing out in the backyard, using anything they could fo
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When Jock Serong's debut novel QUOTA was released it was the first crime fiction book I could recall using over-permit limit Abalone catches as a central theme. The incorporation of crime and cricket therefore shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise in his second novel, THE RULES OF BACKYARD CRICKET. If both of these books are anything to go by, this is an author with a keen eye for an unusual but extremely workable scenario.

The depiction of cricket, from the Keefe brother's backyard cont
Jan 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is great. There. I could just stop there, but I'll attempt more. This is the story of two brothers, Wally and Darren Keefe, cricket obsessed, playing constantly in the hot Australian sun in their backyard throughout their childhood, trying to get into better and better teams and generally just living for the game. Their mum is always there, supporting and helping out, trying to ease the path and always with their backs. Cricket, however, is as rife with dodgy players, scams and all man ...more
Jun 22, 2016 rated it liked it
This book starts out with our protagonist shot in the knee, tied & bound and locked in the trunk of a moving car and alternates between that and everything in his life that led him up to that point. Cricket plays a major role in this story; I know nothing at all about cricket but it really didn't matter, that wasn't an obstacle to reading and enjoying this book. This was a fairly interesting, well-written, worthwhile read.

Thank you to Netgalley and Text Publishing for an advance copy of this in
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Setting: Melbourne, Australia. This is the tale of two brothers, Darren and Wally Keefe, told by younger brother Darren as, now middle-aged, he is travelling in the boot of a car, tied up, to what he believes is his impending death. Each chapter starts with a short 'update' on his journey followed by an episode of the brothers' development from playing cricket in their own backyard to success in local, State and national cricket sides. However, their rise to fame is at a cost to family and relat ...more
Andy Weston
Nov 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, australia
I think it is very difficult to write quality sporting fiction and that is evident in that there is so little of it. There have been some outstanding books based around cricket though, Chinaman, Netherlands, and this year, Selection Day. This however, is not one of them.

The book is at its strongest in the first few chapters when the boyhood of Wally and Darren is described. There are several amusing passages and a good insight into the coming of age of two cricket mad boys in the Melbourne subu
Sep 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars. Great storytelling with some fabulous nostalgia thrown in.
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
The story of two brothers growing up, on the surface one upstanding and straight, the other a larrikin, but all is not as it seems. Things are remembered from childhood and resurface when adults, with devastating effect.

This is a great novel, with a strong well paced narrative, and it wasn't until the last chapter or two that I caught onto the twist, which when it eventuated was a confirmation of my thoughts.

Based in the world of cricket, though it could have been Aussie rules or rugby, you do n
The Keefe brothers are extremely talented cricketers who both eventually represent their country. Wally, the older brother, is focused, aloof, ambitious and has a cold, steely public face. Only his younger brother Darren knows the short fuse his brother has. Darren is a more aggressive batsman, a larrikin, and becomes a bad boy known for his drug and alcohol fuelled benders.
The book highlights the pressure of high class sportsman, the way some of them go off the road and into a life of self obs
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an immensely powerful book, which resonates with me still. And this is from someone who knows nothing about cricket. It was marketed as a literary crime book, and I suppose it is, but it is also much more - a meditation on sibling rivalry, the perils of growing up poor and fatherless, the absolute passion that drives boys to succeed (in this case in cricket), and an absorbing behind-the-scenes look at the intrigues that drive the machine that is world cricket. It is so much more than th ...more
Anne Forrest
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow what an eye opener. A look at the lives,relationships, family dynamics & ways of others in the world out there & consequences that follow life style choices & actions taken.
Funny, tragic,suspenseful .... You don't have to be a cricket fan to enjoy this.
An easy, entertaining read charting the rise and fall of an Australian sporting family tragically torn apart by greed, corruption, betrayal and unimaginable disloyality.
This is a title for my 'holiday reading' shelf if ever there was one.
Megan Maurice
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what a heartwrenching book. It wasn’t at all what I expected, but I loved it all the same. Beautifully crafted from start to finish, with so many twists and turns right to the very last page. Brilliant.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a lover of cricket (and you don't have to be to like this book) I really enjoyed Serong's second novel. Very well constructed with excellent flow throughout. I would have given it 5 stars except for its unnecessary, at times, very poor language. Apart from that this book is a gripping thriller. If you are someone who enjoys dialogue don't be put off with the first 40 pages as the conversations begin to flow after a few dozen pages. Not withstanding that the first 40 pages are excellent. Treme ...more
Fran Whiteman
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book, though not what I was thinking it would be like (only read it because my cricket mad family rated it so high x) Good flow & hard to put down. I will be interested to read another of this author’s books in hope he writes all his books so well.
Denise Simons
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Denise by: Helen Wood
I've just finished reading 'The Rules of Backyard Cricket' and am reeling from the end which I think was inevitable, but why did Jock Serong give such a heavy burden to his main character? Darren was a hapless larrikin with questionable morals but whose devotion to his family is steadfast.

I don't want to give away the end but I need to say that I found the book thoroughly engaging and I became invested in the characters very readily and really cared about Wally and Darren and their mum, the par
Craig Sisterson
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, australia
I've often wondered why there aren't more crime novels set in the sporting world; sports spiderweb into the lives of so many people, in ways big and small, and there is so much passion and such an array of competing pressures and conflicting interests (and increasingly in recent decades, big big money), that it seems very ripe for well-written tales at the darker end of the literature spectrum.

I was a bit slow on grabbing a copy of THE RULES OF BACKYARD CRICKET, the second novel from Ned Kelly
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Loved this book! It’s marketed saying you don’t need to be a cricket lover to read it. I disagree with this 100%
Bruce Gargoyle
I received a copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley.

Ten Second Synopsis:
As he is driven, tied up in the boot of a car, to his probable grisly death, a man reflects on how his life choices led him to this moment. Also, there's a lot of cricket.

Not being known for having a deep and abiding love of cricket, some of you may be wondering why on Earth I would have been interested in reading a book that clearly states that cricket will be involved in the story. Well, Judgey McJudgerson, ev
Rob Kitchin
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Rules of Backyard Cricket is a brilliant slice of literary Australian noir. The story is told through twin narratives. The first, which opens each chapter, details the attempt by Darren Keefe – a bad-boy of Australian cricket – to free himself from the confines of a car boot. The second charts the childhood and careers of Darren and Wally, his elder brother who secures a place in the Australian national team and eventually becomes captain. Throughout their careers the Keefe brothers experien ...more
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Jock Serong lives and works on the far southwest coast of Victoria. He was a practising lawyer when he wrote Quota and is currently a features writer, and the editor of Great Ocean Quarterly. He is married with four children, who in turn are raising a black dog, a rabbit and an unknown number of guinea pigs. Quota was his first novel.

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15 likes · 1 comments
“The outfield's billiard green: no bare patches, no flowers. The things that are painted white-the sightscreen, the pickets around the boundary-are so white it hurts. The hoses and the boundary line are white. The entire playing surface is perfectly flat and level. And in the middle of the ground, across that wide carpet of perfect grass, the holy of holies.
A turf wicket.”
“Rather than taking this as an indication that perceptive people can see my faults, I take it as a warning to avoid perceptive people at all costs.” 1 likes
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