Cricket stars’ stress-busting habit


Apologies to Mark Twain but self-confessed book lovers and Australian cricketers Jess Jonassen and Beth Mooney would dearly love to add winning the ICC T20 Women’s World Cup on March 8 to the list.

Jonassen, 27, is one of the key cogs in Australia’s winning machine — no Aussie bowler has taken more T20 wickets in the past two years — and Mooney, 26, is one of the most destructive batters in the game.

Both are on a journey of a lifetime, to be the centre of the party when thousands and thousands of cricket fans stream into the MCG on International Women’s Day, to hopefully create a world record for the highest ever attendance at a standalone women’s sporting event.

In the lead up to the big dance, when Jess or Beth need to short circuit any stress, they both find relief in the turning of a page — and that’s why we wanted to talk to them.

A page in the record books? … Jess Jonassen and Beth Mooney take time out of pre-T20 pressure to talk reading. Picture: Jay TownSource:News Corp Australia

1. Have you always been a voracious reader?

JJ: Yes — I’ve always loved reading and now I’ve finished studying, I have found reading enjoyable again. When I was studying, I did a law degree initially and I have just finished a grad certificate in Forensic Mental Health — I didn’t have time to do much reading outside of course work. The plan is to go back and do some more study this year but when I’m not playing I always have a book with me. I am a sucker for a hard copy of a book. I have a Kindle as well … I’ve just bought my own house and I’m conscious of not having enough space for all the books I want to read. But during the Big Bash I would average at least a book a week. When there’s a series, I tend to get on a roll and get through those pretty quick because I want to know what will happen next. The hardest thing for me is waiting for the next book of a series to come out.

BM: Like a lot of kids, I was into Harry Potter and then Tomorrow, When the War Began … I really like the idea that you can escape reality through reading, and the context of a book exists in your own mind. I love that your imagination can paint a world you don’t know. I get completely absorbed by books.

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2. Fact or fiction? What are your favourite genres?

JJ: Definitely fiction — you’ll always find me at an airport looking for my next book of fiction. I’m a crime-thriller-mystery sort of girl — this genre has always fascinated me. When I was a kid, I loved reading Jeffery Deaver and John Grisham … these days I like coming across authors I’ve never actually heard of.

BM: I like reading all kinds of books, biographies, autobiographies … fiction or nonfiction, it’s just a nice way to spend some spare time and to get out of the bubble that is cricket. It’s also nice to get out of your head sometimes. I have a bookshelf at home and it’s split up into genres … one section is fiction I have read, another is fiction I haven’t read, another section is biographies I’ve read, biographies I haven’t read – I have shelves of books I’m yet to read.

It’s not just cricket … Jess and Beth have social and promotional engagements in their busy schedule — another reason to want to chill with a novel.

It’s not just cricket … Jess and Beth have social and promotional engagements in their busy schedule — another reason to want to chill with a novel.Source:News Corp Australia

3. What are you reading at the moment? Tell us a little about it.

JJ: Oh, can I explain the process I go through first? I have a system when picking a new book. At first, I look at the title — the front and title have to grab my attention and then I turn the book over and read the back of the book. Then if I still like it, I’ll read the first page and if the first page doesn’t finish with a full stop … if I’m not inclined to turn the page and finish reading the sentence then I won’t buy it. But if it’s got me in, I’ll walk out of the shop with it. Sometimes I could be reading a couple of books at the same time … I’ve always been able to do that. I don’t get the storylines confused. Also, if there’s a series of books — I’ll always start with the first book in the series. Which brings me to what I’m reading at the moment! Gregg Hurwitz — he wrote Orphan X, which is the first of a five-book series. I’m reading the third book Hellbent.

BM: Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky — he wrote The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which was a number one bestseller for a long time. I really like his writing and enjoyed his first book so much, I had to buy his next … and I am really enjoying it.

4. Do you ever read books about cricket or other sports?

JJ: I did when I was a kid. A lot autobiographies … I had a number of Mike Hussey books – he was my cricketing hero. I would read about his training regime and what he did to prepare and how he dealt with different points in his life, and his career. I also liked Ricky Ponting’s Captain Diaries and Adam Gilchrist’s book. But for me I just like reading things other than sport — I watch enough of it and play enough of it — and reading is my way of escaping.

BM: I recently read Libby Trickett’s book and I loved it. It took me about a day to read; I think Meg Lanning has it now but she hasn’t given it back to me! As a kid I read books by Brad Haddin, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, so I loved reading cricket books.

5. How does reading fit into your cricketing schedule?

JJ: I read a lot on the plane and I read a lot before going to sleep at night. During the day, on tour, if I’m in the room and I’m just sitting around I’ll sneak in a few pages or I’ll take a book down to the pool. I’m not one to read on cars or buses because I get motion sickness. If we get to the changerooms super early, you may also find me with a book. That’s happened in a few Big Bash games where I’ve wanted to kill time and not think too much about the game. It’s a way for me to completely switch off, sometimes I have to actually force myself to stop reading. If it’s the night before a game and I know I need to stop and sleep — I’ll go, ‘Just one more chapter’.

BM: I save the bulk of my reading for plane flights these days! On tour when I get some spare time, I also might head to the pool … we’ve got quite a few plane flights coming up so Jess and I will both be churning through our books.

They’ve got the write stuff … Brisbane Heat stars Jess and Beth celebrate a Big Bash victory against the Perth Scorchers in November 2019.

They’ve got the write stuff … Brisbane Heat stars Jess and Beth celebrate a Big Bash victory against the Perth Scorchers in November 2019.Source:Getty Images

6. Which book was your favourite as a child or teenager?

JJ: The one that stands out the most is Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver. That’s one of the few books I’ve re-read. I don’t normally read books more than once. I read it as a kid and read it again quite a few years later. What happens is, roadside crosses start sort of appearing on highways but they are dated the following day. So the crosses are markers for victims yet to come … so the police know when and where people will be killed but not who. A lot of Jeffery Deaver is not gruesome — it’s about the way of solving crime … I read this book as a teenager.

BM: As a child, definitely Harry Potter. I think I need to go back and read that series as an adult.

7. And as an adult?

JJ: I’ve read a lot of books — it’s hard to pick a favourite but one of my favourite authors is Chris Carter. He has a background as a criminal psychologist, he’s based in the States. Some people find his writing a bit gruesome, but I like his detail and he is accurate in terms of the procedural way of things and that’s something that gets me in. Obviously I was also a fan of Dexter — the TV series! In regards to style of writing, I love books that weave together characters from different places but write about the perspective from the same point in time … and then by the end of the book it all comes together.

BM: I really enjoyed Paul De Gelder’s book No Time for Fear. He was the navy diver who was attacked by a shark. His was a story of resilience and determination, and to make the most of a terrible thing that happened to him and to not be bitter about it. As an adult if I had to pick five books to take on a desert island they would be: Imaginary Friend, The Perks of Being a Wall Flower, Any Ordinary Day, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair — and one I haven’t bought yet!

8. Do you prefer bookshops, libraries or borrowing from friends/family?

JJ: I’m hands on and love to walk into bookshops — so I usually buy my own. I always want to see what’s being recommended … I’m actually the person who lends or gives away books to teammates.

BM: I am, for the want of another word, the idiot that takes five or six books on tour. And everyone is like, ‘Moons why is your backpack so heavy?’ And then they tell me to just get a Kindle, but I love the feeling of turning a page. I’m not ready to move on from the 1800s — I love the feeling of a book. I simply cannot walk past a book shop without walking into it. I want to know what the new releases are. And I love passing on the books I love because I get excited and want to share them and talk about them.

9. What’s next on your literary list?

JJ: Hard to say but it will most likely be something I see at an airport. You’ll always find me at an airport bookshop … I’ve recently come across some Australian authors — Christian White, he wrote The Nowhere Child and The Wife and the Widow. I love discovering new authors … and so does my dog. He went into my bag recently and had a nibble on The Wife and the Widow — so even when I was travelling, he made me think of him! I have about five books on my Kindle in my unread list: some by John Sandford, another called Bye Bye Baby by Fiona McIntosh — it’s the first in a series that I want to start in the next few weeks. I also bought the second book of that series so I am ready to go. We have a few tours coming up so I know I’ll have some time! I am an avid Netflix watcher as well but I am trying to stay off the screens at the moment.

BM: I normally read fiction then nonfiction, and alternate. So after Imaginary Friend, I will read Breaking Badly by Georgie Dent. The book details how Georgie suffers a manic episode, she was about 24 working in a law firm — I think she’s a journalist now — and basically writes about her downfall, and how she re-entered the real world and her experiences with that.

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BE THE MOMENT

Join Beth, Jess and the team every step of the way in the T20 Women’s World Cup on Foxtel and Kayo — and send them your best wishes via The Sunday Book Club group on Facebook. While you’re there, tell us what you think of their book choices!

And if you haven’t dived on our Book of the Month offer already: it’s Beth Morrey’s Saving Missy and there’s a 30 per cent discount at Booktopia with the code MISSY. You know the drill …

Mooney magic sparks AUS win

Mooney magic sparks AUS win

Cricket: The Australian women’s T20 side took out the tri-series final against India on Wednesday afternoon, thanks largely to Beth Mooney’s stellar knock.



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