Turn, Turn, Turn…Please

Published: 2007
Pages: 263
Author: O'Keeffe, Kerry
Publisher: ABC
Rating: 3 stars

Turn, Turn, Turn...Please

Stuart’s Effort

Kerry O’Keeffe was a leg-spinner for NSW and Australia in the 1970s. As with many cricketers who failed to become ‘legends’ of the game in the manner of a Chappell or Border, O’Keeffe struggled for many years after his sporting retirement. The necessity to earn a living in the ‘real’ world comes as a shock to many ex-cricketers, and O’Keeffe certainly had his share of problems in making this adjustment. However, in recent years he has created a niche for himself with the ABC radio as an expert commentator. He has also released a book According to Skull which was a bestseller a few years ago.

Turn, Turn, Turn…Please is O’Keeffe’s second book. If you have read According to Skull, you will know what to expect from this effort. It is a series of short and sweet pieces describing various events throughout his life, with a very light hearted spin. O’Keeffe has built up a cult following for his commentary on ABC radio, and this book is very similar to an O’Keeffe session in the commentary box. Entertaining, but often diverging from the original context, it is never dull.

O’Keeffe varies his topics from horse racing to cricket to the forced land of aircraft. He describes in some detail his carefully devised betting system, and its outcome at racetracks in places such as Darwin. Amongst other subjects, O’Keeffe talks about the tour party that he led to the West Indies for the recent World Cup, and provides some brief profiles of lesser known team-mates from the 1970s such as Rick McCosker. One of the best parts is a recounting of the family ‘Test’ matches played in the garage.

This book is far more disjointed than his previous effort, and is simply a collection of amusing stories. According to Skull, whilst amusing, also had a lot of insight into the struggles that O’Keeffe faced in his life. Turn, Turn, Turn…Please does not feature this same level of introspection, and is poorer for it. Having said that, the content is undoubtedly funny, and the book works as a whole. For someone who deliberately presents himself as a buffoon, O’Keeffe’s observations are surprisingly perceptive.

There remains enough insight and analysis mixed into the humour to sustain the interest of both casual and more serious cricket lovers. It is certainly not high literature, but then again, it makes no apologies for that. As a means of comparison, Turn, Turn, Turn…Please is probably not quite as good as According to Skull. This should not be seen as a serious indictment, however, as it is still a good book in its own right. It delivers what it promises – a fun read that is ideal for a lazy day on the beach.

Archie’s Effort

A lot of people thought the first literary effort by Kerry O’Keefe a bit short of laughs; I must admit I was not amongst them. According To Skull was amusing in places, but also contained some poignant insights into the ‘funny man’ and his personal battles with life after cricket and eventual climb back to the top.

O’Keefe has seemingly decided to listen to the hoi polloi, and given up any pretensions to construct a book with any meaningful discourse on the game of cricket, which O’Keefe purports to be an expert.

His favourite key seems to be ‘!’ and his favourite term ‘heh, heh, heh’, usually followed with another exclamation point!

In his next book it might be better if Kerry breaks new ground and produces the first cricket book resplendent with smiley icons.

The book itself is some sort of diary come opinion, with the occasional match review thrown in for good measure; which may be a World Cup match, or one of the latest Ashes Matches, or even a recent Test between West Indies and England (I was tempted to end this paragraph with a ‘!’ but resisted the temptation).

O’Keefe is at his best in this book when discussing his past team-mates from the NSW Sheffield Shield Teams of the 1970s, although his “mug punter” stories are also very entertaining.

As an unabashed fan of the Kerry O’Keeffe commentary style, I must admit to being a little disappointed with Turn, Turn, Turn…Please, especially after his first effort According To Skull, showed such promise. 2.5 stars from the Mac

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Stuart Wark