It arrived at Christmas time. The book, long foretold by the prophet Jrod. There was snow all around. Messengers from the far exotic South arrived bearing the book, and yet I was not in to receive it.

The book was therefore left next door , a household of Jehovah’s Witnesses with South African in-laws. The book would never have survived had the inhabitants of said house been aware of its title or subject matter. The book was ‘When Freddie Became Jesus’.

The Village Cricketer's bookshelf

Ignore the title; this is not a book about Andrew Flintoff, or Jesus. Although the great Lancastrian features strongly and the author (Jarrod Kimber, aka Jrod) gets biblical with his language, this book is about the Ashes first and Jrod second. The biggest sporting event of the year and how Jrod fit into it : working as a cricket writer for the first time, being an Aussie in London and preparing to get married.

The Ashes = Two equally shit sides fight out an ancient rivalry that no one understands, but everyone cares about… An Ashes battle doesn’t have to be two champions to make it good to watch. These teams were evenly matched. So even though it was slapping and hair pulling, it was a tight contest of slapping and hair pulling.

The Ashes and Uncle Jrod (to give him his full pseudonym) are two entities that I have grown enormously fond of. It’s love, but good old-fashioned pat-on-the-back man love, nothing that would threaten Mrs Rod.

From reading his book, it is apparent that Jrod hates quite a few things: including Andrew Hilditch, Jerusalem, Stuart Broad, Shane Watson, and his year 11 English teacher. It is also obvious that he loves cricket, and it is this passion for the game, appreciation of a good contest and a hugely entertaining and irreverent writing style that really makes this book stand out.

If you’ve ever read Cricket With Balls (and if you haven’t you should), you’ll be familiar with the tone. The book format is similar – albeit easier to read when on the bog – but frustrating in that you cannot leaves comments mid-dump for the author’s consideration.

Don’t get me wrong, the book has faults. It’s got a few typos (including getting the URL for The Village Cricketer wrong (its ‘thevillagecricketer.com’, not ‘village cricketer.com’), he used my gag about him nearly killing Richie Benaud with swine-flu, and I was unable to find a copy of the book in either my local library or Waterstones (so you’ll have to buy it online).

But that is nit-picking.

‘When Freddie Became Jesus’ is an entertaining yet perverted romp through this year’s Ashes action. It’s amusing, well structured and really takes you back to watching the action unfold. It is also written for the common man. You aren’t being talked down to by a stuffed-shirted egg-and-bacon type, or ranted at by your typical one-eyed-Aussie commentator (Richie excepted), you get the passionate but fair thoughts, observations and commentary of the guy next to you in the pub (provided you’re sitting in a pub in South London, and there is a scruffy looking Aussie with you, and he’s called Jarrod, and he is working on Cricket With Balls).

It’s funny. He describes Steve Harmison as “a gerbil crossed with an electric tie organiser”, exclusively reveals that Shane Watson is the fiendish creation of a mad Nazi scientist and North Korea, and exposes ‘The Thorpe Dossier’, the thoughts of England’s great nuggetty left-hander on the Australian side and how to beat it.

Did I mention it’s perverted too? Jrod fantasizes about a lubed –up, caged and naked Ian Bell, and contemplates a raunchy threesome involving Graham Onions, Lily Allen and Graham Onions’ girlfriend.

I once said that there was only one Australian whose opinion on cricket I respected –Richie Benaud. There are now two. Oh, and Jrod, I’ll proof read your next book if you like. ‘When Freddie Became Jesus’ now sits proudly on my bookshelf, between ‘The Art of Captaincy’ and ‘A Lot of Hard Yakka’. Right now, a couple of beers in and a Christmas movie on the box, it’s better than both.

Advertisements