Roo’s Book

Published: 2011
Pages: 130
Author: Yardley, Bruce
Publisher: Private
Rating: 3 stars

The author tells us early on that he had to write this book in his own words despite not being much of a scholar at school. He also relates that he has some good journalist friends who he respects. You can’t help thinking that asking one of his journalist friends for advice on structure and content for his autobiography might have been a good idea. After 30 pages, where Yardley had jumped from one subject to another, and continued to write seemingly unrelated random thoughts amongst unrelated themes, I thought about giving this book away.

Thankfully I didn’t. Once Yardley made his Test debut the book really picks up and we are treated to some great anecdotes. These include Yardley being held up at gun point. He makes the unwise choice to chase the robber before calling off the pursuit when a gun is shoved in his face.

In relation to cricket, it seems Yardley’s habit of backing to the onside, before slashing, known as ‘Yardley Yahoo,’ at the Windies fast bowlers was like a red rag to a bull. The West Indian quicks, especially Joel Garner and Colin Croft, decided to try and knock Yardley’s head off. Croft did manage a direct hit on one occasion which saw Yardley retire hurt with blood running down his face. On other occasions he limped around as the victim of a sandshoe crusher as the Windies pacemen tried to chase the retreating tailender. 

Yardley, who had two failed long-term relationships, he was single when penning this autobiography, appears to have had a philanthropic streak. He worked with beggars in India and after he lost an eye to cancer, post cricket, he helped those less fortunate from the subcontinent to travel to Western Australia to receive a prosthetic eye.

I just found this book so frustrating. For instance Yardley starts one chapter with “It was January 1978 that I got the call up to play Test Cricket for Australia”. Wait? How did this happen? We poor readers haven’t even been told about your Sheffield Shield debut.

You will often find yourself playing catch-up with Yardley as we jump from Test cricket to his coaching career to his media commentary. You need to just strap yourself in and try and keep up!

In 1982, Yardley was the Australian International Cricketer of The Year (think Allan Border Medal) but by 1983 he had retired. He deals with this decision in a couple of lines. Apparently after being left out of the Australian World Cup team for 1983, he decided that someone at ‘head office’ didn’t want him. Done! Over! A surprise, because Yardley was seemingly at the peak of his bowling craft, having taken 126 Test wickets including seven in his last Test. Throw in the fact he was a superb gully fieldsmen and a handy lower order batsmen, who scored four half centuries, and his decision to call it quits seems premature.

Post retirement from cricket, Yardley went on to have a successful coaching career, and as coach of Sri Lanka made a significant contribution in the development of Muttiah Muralitharan as the world’s greatest off spinner.

Yardley, like Colin Miller in more recent times, changed his bowling style from medium pace to off spinners, the change resulting in a Test call up. This change to his style is an interesting fact, however I didn’t learn that from Roo’s Book, I gleaned this information from his Wiki page. In the end you just can’t help thinking that this book could and should have been so much more informative.

I also learned from his Wiki page that, sadly, Bruce Yardley died from cancer eight years after publishing this autobiography. That information caused me to think back to the last line of his introduction to Roo’s Book – “I have had so much fun and I reckon there is plenty more to come”. He died aged 71.

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