Bush to Buckingham Palace    

Published: 2022
Pages: 164
Author: Darling, Rick
Publisher: Ryan Publishing
Rating: 4 stars

As a cricket book reviewer with a lot of deadlines, it’s rare to read a book that you don’t want to finish. I so enjoyed Bush to Buckingham Palace that it was with a touch of sadness that I completed the last page. At 164 pages, which includes one full page cartoon per chapter, it’s not a long read, but it’s certainly entertaining. 

The book is not a traditional autobiography. Instead author Rick Darling picks out short anecdotes from his cricketing journey. These short stories are in chronological order, with his tour to the West Indies in 1978 accounting for close to half the book. The mind boggles at just how amateurish cricket was in the ‘70s, both at Sheffield Shield level and even Test level.   

Darling’s Sheffield Shield debut saw him catch the bus from the country to the city. He was put up at a hotel well away from the Adelaide Oval and had to find the ground after studying the local bus timetable. He also had to buy his own kit from a local sports store. All of these expenses came out of his $20 match fee. 

Rick Darling was in the right place at the right time and probably found himself in the Australian team before he was ready. He was brought into the team after the first choice Australian side had decamped to World Series Cricket. In his Test debut, aged just 20, he and his fellow opener Graeme Wood were christened the ‘kamikaze kids’ due to their disastrous running between wickets. Despite their mix-ups however, Wood and Darling became lifelong friends and always roomed together on cricketing tours.

While on the West Indies tour Wood and Darling apparently enjoyed wrestling matches, which on one occasion saw an inebriated Darling wake up with his head stuck to a pillow due to dried blood from a head wound. After stitches, his captain Bobby Simpson made Darling run a couple of extra laps around the field, which is probably not the treatment for a head injury in 2022. Apart from impromptu wrestling matches, the Australian’s were also riding motorbikes without helmets and negotiating a full on riot at one of the Test matches. Celebrating his 21st birthday, a naked Darling found himself dropped into the hotel swimming pool.

With most cricket books, a reviewer likes to highlight instances of amusing anecdotes. That is simply not possible with Bush to Buckingham Palace as every chapter has at least one amusing story. Probably the only sobering part of the book is Darling’s habit of recording his subject’s years of death. There are certainly a few. David Hookes, Bruce Yardley and Terry Jenner were just some of the players Darling played with who are no longer with us. The other person who receives a few mentions is Joe Darling who captained Australia on three Ashes trips to England and is a Great Uncle of Rick Darling.

This book is highly recommended and should be a popular last minute buy for all cricket fans this Christmas. 

Bush to Buckingham Palace retails in Australia for $39.95

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