For a lot of Australian sporting households, there are two seasons- there’s the AFL football season in winter, and then there’s cricket season in summer. While the AFL has strong representation when it comes to merchandising and spruiking their clubs, Cricket Australia tends to be less aggressive in advertising their sport, yet ‘the gentleman’s game’ has only gotten more and more popular, especially when the Australian team is playing well.
With the success of both the men’s and women’s Australian teams internationally, and the varying types of game played (One Day Internationals, Tests, Twenty20, etc), cricket is starting to appeal to a broader range of people, who might not have ordinarily enjoyed the game. Children, in particular, have become a target audience for Cricket Australia, who hope to encourage outdoor fun and fitness, as well as strong and inspiring role models. Their ‘hands-on’ program- Milo Have-A-Go- has been extremely successful over the years, and now Cricket Australia is setting their sights on the bookworm side of their target audience, by releasing a series of books aimed at the 8-12 age bracket (of both boys and girls who enjoy the sport).
The ‘I Can Be…’ series, written by Phil Kettle, features eight popular past and present Australian cricket players- four women and four men. Each book begins with an interview with the player, conducted by either Jill King or Jack Ace, two cricket-mad kids from Mistake Creek in rural Queensland. In the interviews, readers learn all about the player, their childhoods, inspirations, and rise through the ranks until they were able to represent their country in cricket. They also discuss their love for the game, their achievements and their hopes for the future of cricket in Australia. After the interview, each book features facts about the game, some information about some of the playing grounds, rules for different versions of cricket and interesting stories featuring Jill, Jack, the sport, and some of the more unusual characters from their township. This series also features interactive elements, where readers are encouraged to learn different cricketing terms and test friends and family on their knowledge. They are able to visit the related website (as listed in the books) to check their answers. The end of each book also describes a charity that the star player is passionate about supporting, as well as Jack and Jill’s favourite children’s charity- Books In Homes Australia.
These easy-to-read novels are perfect for young cricket fans, especially those who idolise the players featured in the series.
The titles of the books in the series are as follows:
1. I Can Be… Belinda Clark
2. I Can Be… Meg Lanning
3. I Can Be… Ellyse Perry
4. I Can Be… Holly Ferling
5. I Can Be… Greg Chappell
6. I Can Be… Ian Healy
7. I Can Be… Fawad Ahmed
8. I Can Be… Mitch Marsh