Keeper delivers great read
CRICKET books come thick and fast this time of year. And with many of these new releases comes the digging up of old wounds - players using it as a way of settling scores.
Take, for instance, Michael Clarke's My Story, which breathed life into the infamous feuds he had in the Aussie dressing room with the likes of Simon Katich and Shane Watson when captain.
But one that should not get lost among the often soap operatic tales from beyond the pitch that keep bookshelves stocked is Brad Haddin's My Family's Keeper, a cricket story with a purpose - one reflecting on issues far more important than anything that's found on the field.
It is a heart-warming retelling of what the former Australian wicket-keeper and his family endured when then 17-month-old daughter Mia was diagnosed with cancer. While always talkative behind the stumps, either giving it to the opposition or geeing up his teammates, the gloveman was never one to seek the spotlight of the media. But he felt compelled to put into words his greatest battle.
"I was really nervous to put pen to paper, to be perfectly honest," Haddin tells News Regional Media. "We're quite a private family. But we've really enjoyed the response. To touch another family and make their journey - what they're going through - a little bit easier, well, it's all been worth it."
As a story, My Family's Keeper pulls you in from the get-go. "Is she going to die? Is Mia going to die?" it begins as Haddin recalls the fateful 6.30am phone call from his wife Karina while he was on tour with the Australian cricket team in the West Indies in 2012 with the news that Mia was gravely ill.
At the time controversial, as the family chose to keep the details of Mia's illness a secret, Haddin left the tour to be by Mia's side at Sydney's Westmead Children's Hospital - a journey that took two days from the tiny Caribbean island of St Vincent, with stopovers in Barbados, London and Singapore.
Raw to the bone, the story then follows every step of little Mia's four-year battle with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.
"Karina and I toed and froed for a long time about whether or not we wanted to do it," Haddin says of the book. "It was really uncomfortable to start with. It's quite confronting, to be honest ... to revisit some of those early dark days.
"On the flipside, because Mia was diagnosed so young, she won't remember a lot of what went on in the first six months when she had some real battles ... with the chemo and the surgery, she can't remember the pain she was in.
"And so from our family's point of view, it's going to be a great tool for us when we have to explain different things to Mia ... helping answer the questions she needs to be answered."
As Haddin says, "it's a cricket book as well" and so does delve into his long and proud history playing the sport that made him famous - from his roots in country New South Wales to wearing the baggy green cap and representing his country.
"A lot goes into playing for Australia, families have to make a lot of sacrifices - be it your mum and dad or wife," Haddin says.
"I think it (the book) is a great reward or great reflection on them as people. To give them a thank-you and show your appreciation for whatever they did for you."