A View of Australia From Fine LegJonathan Northall |
Author: Dodson, Craig
Publisher: InHouse Publishing
Rating: 4 stars
Aussies love a good yarn, and Craig Dodson has many to tell in his book, A View of Australia From Fine Leg. The premise of the book is a simple one: travel to every state in Australia and play cricket. Dodson’s madcap plan was not just about cricket, but to raise awareness of mental health. The book documents his adventures over four months as he spent weekends travelling to cricket clubs who were happy to accommodate Dodson in their teams.
A View of Australia From Fine Leg is a fascinating piece of history as the games took place just before the world was struck down by COVID-19. It is a reminder of how recreational cricket used to be and will be again at some point. Also, the book charts a problematic time in recent Australian history as the devastating bushfires which ravaged the country feature in the book.
Dodson’s candid style allows him to disclose his motivation for the project and the book easily. His disclose about struggles with depression allows the reader to understand the raison d’etre of the project. This honesty will, hopefully, encourage readers to seek help as Dodson did. The book is far from maudlin or lecturing. Dodson’s self-effacement resonates with the reader, which adds to the enjoyment.
The book has been self-published and is not as polished as a commercial title would be. However, it feels like polish would detract from the feel of the book and Dodson’s easy-to-read style. It is not a large book, but the pages flow as the reader finds out more about the characters and issues faced by the author. Also, Dodson’s use of Aussie colloquialisms provides overseas readers with a feel for life ‘Down Under’. Fans of The Grade Cricketer podcast will connect with the language and characters who Dodson presents.
Although there are larger-than-life characters in the book, I would suspect that Dodson has not embellished his adventure. Each match that Dodson played at, he gives a potted history of the club in question before introducing the reader to the individuals that he meets. Obviously, the on-pitch action gets discussed too, but it is clear that this book is much more about people than it is about cricket. Throughout the book, Dodson encounters some of the great and the good of Australian cricket. The book includes a foreword from ex-Australian cricketer and coach, Darren Lehmann. The book also features inputs from the Gotcha4Life Foundation who were the recipients of funds generated through Dodson’s travels.
For non-Australian based readers, there is much to enjoy about the book. As Dodson travels from state to state, he opens a window into the disparate lands of Australia that even Australians themselves are not always consciously aware of. For example, Dodson’s time batting in a Queensland summer afternoon soon reminds the author, a proud Victorian, of the unforgiving nature of the ‘Sunshine State’. It is will also demonstrate to readers that, despite living far from Australia, that cricket is a force to connect us all.
A View of Australia From Fine Leg is a fun book and is recommended. The important message of positive mental health hangs in the air without being intrusive. It may not be in the annals of Cardus and Swanton, but it never tries to be. It does effuse enjoyment of cricket from the author and the people he meets. It is impossible to read the book without smiling. You can almost smell the muscle rub, taste the sausages, and sip a cold beer as you read.
The book is available for purchase via InHouse Publishing: