Dipping into more sporting lives and developments

ODT sports editor Hayden Meikle looks at some of the latest sports book offerings.

THE OPEN SIDE
Richie McCaw/Greg McGee
Hodder Moa

Let's face it, this was always going to be an automatic bestseller. It could have been Richie McCaw's Guide to Embroidery, or Richie McCaw and the Theories of Quantum Physics. Everyone would have bought it.

The All Black captain and contender for greatest player in the history of the black jersey joins the ranks of players to have released a book before his career is over.

Pleasingly, his choice as biographer is someone a little different. Ex-Waitakian Greg McGee, best known for Foreskin's Lament, takes the job and does his level best to squeeze some juice out of the notoriously level-headed McCaw.

As the great man says, he made a deliberate decision early in his All Black captaincy to say nothing controversial. Better to be seen as boring than to create tomorrow's headlines.

The book is certainly not boring, but I wouldn't say it's loaded with fascination. Large chunks of it include fairly standard rugby writing, and there are few startling revelations.

But McGee ties the strands of McCaw's life together nicely, there are some interesting observations on various issues, and there are just enough glimpses into McCaw the man (especially his love of gliding) to keep the reader satisfied.

VALERIE
Valerie Adams/Phil Gifford
Hodder Moa

The female version of Richie McCaw? Probably accurate, though fairly condescending.

Queen Valerie is another whose story is not yet over. She has two Olympic gold medals in the bag but, assuming she maintains her motivation, she could win another one, two or three.

Still, she has a story to tell, and the vastly experienced Gifford helps her open up.

The obvious and immediate angle is her experience at the London Olympics, where the drama never stopped. Surprise silver medal! Administrative muck-up! Belarussian busted for doping!Adams does not hold back in her criticism of chef de mission Dave Currie and Athletics New Zealand, but (deliberately) has little to say about Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who ruined her golden moment.

The other topics of real interest covered warts and all are Adams' split with long-time coach Kirsten Hellier, and her marital problems with heavy-drinking husband Bertrand. Painfully honest stuff.

Some of the more pure athletics-based chapters are a little dry, but then this is the shot put. And, as occasionally happens in real life, Adams comes across on the sour side at times.

Great story, though. Your respect for what the woman has done, and continues to do, will only be enhanced by reading the book.

HOWZAT! KERRY PACKER'S CRICKET WAR
Christopher Lee
NewSouth

The story - still fascinating, even after all these years - of the great cricket split in the late 1970s.

Lee based the book on a television series he created which, disappointingly, appears unlikely to grace New Zealand screens.

A cracking yarn of power, politics and revolution. Makes you realise cricket has actually been in the process of change for a long time, not just since they invented twenty/20.

THE NEW ZEALAND BOXING SCRAPBOOK
Dave Cameron/Paul Lewis
HarperCollins

Great sport, boxing. Don't be turned off by the sight of SBW or Joseph Parker beating up tubby losers, or the farcical state of the world heavyweight championship.

The sport's glorious history in New Zealand is given magnificent treatment by this weighty tome, from historian Dave Cameron and Herald on Sunday sports editor Paul Lewis.

It's crammed full of nice photos, interesting bits and bobs, old yarns, and memorabilia. Well worth a look.

GENERALS OF THE RUGBY WORLD CUP
Paul Verdon
Hill-Verdon Publishing

Verdon specialises in ''cigar-box'' books, hefty things designed to be more than your average publication. His latest effort focuses on the Rugby World Cup, specifically the men who wore the No 10 jersey for the winning teams.

It's high-end stuff ($295) but rugby tragics will lap up the presentation, the background, the statistics and the signatures in the front.