Poems of cricket

George Brown
(Hampshire and England)

George Brown,
Aztecs’ face;
Iron courage.
Eccentric always,
Chesting Larwood or
Keeping wicket for England
In a pair of
Motor cycle gauntlets.
Jessop one day; Scotton the next;
Average not so much,
But figures may deceive.
Bowled when Lionel Tennyson
Forgot Kennedy and Newman;
And the heart never belied
A man of honest strength.

E.R. Dexter
(Cambridge, Sussex and England)

Dexter on the drive,
Hitting straight,
A thing of beauty
As a lion walking is;
Both unconscious of what they do,
Glorious in their naturalness.

Hooking Hall, driving Sobers,
Cutting Griffith past point
As though he’s a net bowler:
Lords 1963, and seventy runs
As bravely struck as any ever made.

1968, and one last glance,
Two hundred and three,
Made without practice,
But in the grandest of manners –
A hint of what was left unsaid

F.H. Tyson
(Northants and England)

I saw Tyson bowling
In ’55 or ’56.
When he was really fast,
Causing an intake of breath
From people who had never seen
Him bowl or had forgotten
What he was.

Not swing or cut
Or change of pace
But pure speed
Undiluted with guile,
Just the elemental release
Of bowling quick.
And the joy of a hunter’s ectasy.
The cricketer S.F. Barnes
(Warwickshire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and England)

‘E were a contrary fellow,
Nay, reet awk’ard.
There wern’t no doing
Nowt but business wi’ him
From beginning to end.

A Staffordshire man ‘e were,
Not that ‘e cared for that
Except when brass t’were there
And world gave its due to ‘is pride
Wi’ a pocketful o’ gold.

Couldn’t be doing wi’ maisters;
Allas his own man
Even in’t days when maisters were maisters
And a workin’ man had owt
But his hands and brain and fear.

But, my, ‘e could bowl
Forty nine wickets in South Africa
Just afore the Great War,
Then cussed booger refused t’ play in last test
‘Cos his missus wern’t paid for!

Yet ‘e had ‘is cricketing pride.
In nineteen eleven at Sydney
There’s Johnny Douglas takin’ new ball afore ‘im:
Bowled suet puddings out o’ temper,
Takes four for a hundred and plenty.

Next up coom Melbourne;
Barnes’s given new ball.
Bardsley, Kellaway, Hill, Minnett and Armstrong out –
‘E’s taken five for six afore dinner
And ‘is place in t’ world back again.

‘E grew old but not like most,
Still a pro when passed sixty.
Action never went you see,
Allas high and mighty
Like the man.
David Gower

They come but rarely,
Perhaps six in a century:
Spooner, Palairet,
Woolley, Kippax,
Graveney, Gower:
To fill the place of long forgotten Joseph Guy
‘elegance, all elegance.
Fit to play before the Queen
In her parlour.’
But such felicity
Mocks the minds of mediocre men
Who feel the puritan’s desire
To destroy.

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