Forgive me dear readers when this blog veers towards the noble game of cricket. I know that my love of the game is somewhat marginal in its broader interest, but something of its idiosyncratic pleasure chimes with my soul.
I think this is partly the combination of physicality and deep thinking; the pace of the game which is so often mocked by the unaware means that a lot of the skill of playing the game is in the head. All the small confrontations involved in the event of every ball bowled, and the open ended hope for victory almost to the last.
Today we played a reduced over match against a Royal Botanical Gardens side- just a friendly, cut down to 20 overs because of an approaching weather front. They rattled up 110 (a wicket apiece for both Will and I) and then I opened the batting, perishing swiping across the line at a full one for 11. Grrrrr. 20 over cricket it not my bag really- I much prefer longer forms of the game in which you can build an innings. Will was last out attempting a slog off one of their quick bowlers in the last over, skying a catch to mid on.
And cricket seems to have inspired lots of poetic writing over the years too- a happy combination of two of my passions. Here are a couple;
Firstly one of the more miserable, thanks to A E Houseman (from ‘Shropshire Lad‘ written in 1896.)
- Twice a week the winter thorough
- Here stood I to keep the goal:
- Football then was fighting sorrow
- For the young man’s soul.
- Now in Maytime to the wicket
- Out I march with bat and pad:
- See the son of grief at cricket
- Trying to be glad.
- Try I will; no harm in trying:
- Wonder ’tis how little mirth
- Keeps the bones of man from lying
- On the bed of earth.
Next an old Poem from Punch Magazine, written at the expense of a poor cricketer called William Scotton, renowed as a boring batsman. He probably would not have liked 20 over cricket either.Against the Australian team of 1886 Scotton played two remarkable innings in company with WG Grace, the two batsmen scoring 170 together for the first wicket for England at the Oval. Scotton’s score at the Oval was only 34 in 225.
- Block, block, block
- At the foot of thy wicket, O Scotton!
- And I would that my tongue would utter
- My boredom. You won’t put the pot on!
- Oh, nice for the bowler, my boy,
- That each ball like a barndoor you play!
- Oh, nice for yourself, I suppose,
- That you stick at the wicket all day!
- And the clock’s slow hands go on,
- And you still keep up your sticks;
- But oh! for the lift of a smiting hand,
- And the sound of a swipe for six!
- Block, block, block,
- At the foot of thy wicket, ah do!
- But one hour of Grace or Walter Read
- Were worth a week of you!