Review : My Life by Brett Lee

October 22, 2012
Author: Brett Lee and James Knight
Publisher: Random House Publications
Year: 2011
ISBN: 9781846274398
Rating: ★★★½☆
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My Life by Brett Lee is one cricketing autobiography that deserves to be read. Brett Lee’s career coincided with Australia’s climb and sway at the pinnacle of cricketing glory. His express fast bowling and his indomitable attitude was as much a reason behind this seemingly endless reign as was the presence of some of the brightest cricketing talent the game has seen. Off the field his generosity and his million dollar smile made him one of the few well liked people on a team that gave the appearance of being unnecessarily rough and cocky to boot. His autobiography, written in collaboration with the excellent James Knight, is an honest reflection of the affable performer whom cricket fans have grown to love.

My Life takes us to Lee’s humble origins in the small town of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia. The second of the three trouble-making sons of Bob and Helen Lee, he narrates a childhood of camaraderie between brothers, creating mischief, playing backyard cricket and always being happy. Coming from a supportive and close-knit family provided the base for the three brothers to find and follow their passions in life. Lee takes us on a journey of his development as a cricketer, breaking into junior and then senior teams, getting his first baggy green and then his immediate success with the national team which made him a recognized face on the street. The stories of immense adulation are balanced by the recounting of painful injuries that recurred throughout his career and led to some of his lowest points in life when he ended up being dropped from the team for months on end. The book is peppered with numerous incidents from on and off the field, stories that every sportsman is bound to collect on his endless travels around the world. His perception of the differences in cricketing cultures over different countries is astute and his respect for fans is immense. Given his enduring connection with India, the section devoted to his experiences here, is rich with stories. Even though the stories are meant to capture the essence of India and it’s obsession with cricket for a non-Indian audience, they are truly funny and bring out more than a smile.

His devotion to his family- his parents and brothers and especially his son- is something he talks of with as much pride as he does of his cricketing achievements. He also discusses his projects for various charitable causes with passion. Yet what he speaks most fondly of is his other passion, music, which helped him deal with the roller coaster life of a top level cricketer. It brought him calm and normalcy and helped him appreciate life beyond the game.

The book is a light and conversational account where Lee has made quite an effort to present his story without trying to project a premeditated image. He has dealt with his less glorious moments on the field with as much honesty as he has presented his greatest triumphs. The sincerity behind the effort is evident and the book makes for a pleasant reading. It includes pictures from his personal collection that add to the authenticity and integrity of the work. It delivers everything that one could demand of an autobiography without the unsavory flair for the dramatic that can sometimes deprive such a work of its authority.

My Life is a simple, genuine and humorous book which would take anyone who has followed cricket over the last decade on a nostalgic trip. It begins at a time when cricket was closer to the viewers and less of a spectacle, when players were humans first and superstars later. In a time where the flair of T20 cricket dominates the scene, it takes us back to a time that cricket romantics remember with fondness.

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