Sunday, May 20, 2007

Out Of My Comfort Zone

Ok, so it's just passed the middle of (Tim) May and my New Year committment of batting my way through 12 books over the ensuing 12 months is looking a little behind the required run rate. I've literally got another five backing up in the sheds, but I felt in the zone with this one as I happily found form.

Ex-Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh (I can almost hear people clicking off now...), wrote an 800-page innings of an autobiography. The little shiner cost me about $35, and true to the sporting autobiographical genre, the book has plenty of pictures, cliches and analysis of memorable sporting moments.

Perhaps at times intentionally leaving his wicket open to his readers, the book provides real insight into the man's make-up. Particularly, the book illustrated how his reputation as an international cricketer did not always hold its ground when at home changing nappies or when walking through the dirtied streets of Delhi amongst beggars, lepers and extreme poverty.

Six over long-on:
  • Descriptions of some of the on-field sledgings and verbal stumpings.
  • The honest appraisals and insights into some of the characters of the modern game, including Allan Border, Merv Hughes, Sachin Tendulkar, Simon Katich, Steve Harmison, Michael Slater, Shane Warne, Curtly Ambrose, David Boon, Andy Caddick, Justin Langer, Arjuna Ranatunga and Salim Malik to name a few.
  • A unique examination of the determination, strength of mind and character needed to dodge life's bouncers and succeed in any high-performance pursuit.
  • Perspective - making sure to note how others in the world (and many millions in cricketing-playing nations) are struggling to survive and how this can ever match up to what is essentially a game...
  • The values he holds for family and mates.
  • The humour and humility the book was written in.
  • Waugh's experience with the media, particularly in terms of interviews and press conferences. A great overview of the process and a useful reference for any PR pros training media virgins/CEOs how to play the media with a straight bat.

Golden duck:

  • Lack of a coherent timeline - Out Of My Comfort Zone seemed to jump between seasons, years or even decades, which made it at times hard to follow.
  • Repetition - whilst enjoyable and interesting in nature, he seemed to overbowl the amount of space dedicated to descriptions of every minute detail of him going out to bat, field placings etc.

Steve Waugh is one of the greatest cricketers to ever pull on the baggy green. What I admire most about him is his tenacity, desire to achieve, passion for Australia, and hard-edged attitude tapered off by an underlying sense of compassion. As role models go, he's Bradman-esque.

Would I read the book again? Yes.

Would I recommend the book to others? Yes, to those who have an active interest in cricket.

Will I read another 11 books before year's end? No bloody idea, but I'll give it a good whack.

NB: Cricketing puns, references, colloquialisms or cliches within this post = 20


Chris said...

Raise your bat Belly, great tally of cricketing know-how there.

Belly said...

Thanks mate. It was a tough post, but I think the boys did really well considering the conditions. And full credit to the opposition - they put up a good strong fight right to the end.

I'm just glad we could get this one under our belts. It's a great way to begin preparation for the next one later on in the week.