Worth The Wait
Author: Darren Lehmann
Publisher: Hardie Grant Books
Rating: 2.5 stars
By Archie Mac
26 Dec 2005
This book was originally started in conjunction ('ghosted') with James Brayshaw, but was not considered of a high enough standard, and was subsequently rewritten. Despite these earlier hiccups, the book still lives up to its title of Worth the Wait. Darren Lehmann bears his sole on a number of subjects from his friendship with David Hookes, to the furore over his utterance of a racial slur.
Darren Lehmann was a typical Aussie kid chasing a footy in the winter and a cricket ball in the summer; in fact you receive the impression that Lehmann would have preferred a career as an Aussie Rules football star. He admits in the book that he is no fan of watching cricket on the television. A natural cricketer by the age of 15 he was already playing first grade district cricket in Adelaide, and was in the State side by 17.
By the age of twenty Darren Lehmann seemed to have the cricketing world at his feet, after a great season for South Australia, in which he was made 12th man for Australia. He looked the next big thing in Australian cricket. At the end of the year he was approached by the Carlton cricket club with a view to play with them, and in particular to play with Victoria. Lehmann met with Carlton heavy weight John Elliott. Not known for beating around the bush Elliott came straight to the point 'Well what will it take you to sign'? Lehmann decided to ask for the world and expected to be sent home, for such impertinence, he asked for a car, job, house plus money over and above his contract for Victoria. John Elliott looked him in the eye and said 'Right, you ready to sign?'
Even though Darren Lehmann did fairly well for Victoria (2,000 runs at 42, with 6 hundreds) he never really enjoyed his time there, and eventually returned to South Australia, but now he had fallen behind his opposition, in his dream to play Test cricket. It would take Darren Lehmann 84 Tests and he would miss 23 series before he finally made his Test debut.
Once Lehmann makes his Test debut the book really 'takes off'. We are treated to some great insights, into the inner sanctum of the Australian dressing room, especially the treatment given to the batsman waiting to go in next. Lehmann goes through each of the batsman's preparation before an innings, from the intense Matthew Hayden (no one dares to talk to him before an innings) to Justin Langer (loud music, happy and chatty) to the superstitious Ricky Ponting.
Darren Lehmann is very forth coming about the biggest controversy of his career; the racial slur uttered about the Sri Lankan cricket team on his return to the dressing room after being dismissed. Lehmann was very disappointed by the lack of support he believes he was given by the then ACB (now CA), he comes across as genuinely sorry about the incident. I still felt he justified the whole episode to a degree, by claiming that what is said in the dressing room should stay in the dressing room.
The chapter in the book I was dreading was that pertaining to David Hookes, (I hate to cry) who was a close friend and mentor to Darren Lehmann throughout his career. I was a bit teary eyed throughout the chapter. Lehmann expresses his feelings with humility and love, and to his credit stays away from blaming anyone for the terrible tragedy.
Unfortunately for Darren Lehmann he made his Test career about 50 Tests to late, and what may have been a great Test career was merely an adequate career. Still the book was 'Worth The Wait'