Ashes Poetry - cricket

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David Fine, Ashes poet in residence in Australia 2006-7

England vs Australia.
Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney 2006-2007

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Adelaide Day Two Record Breakers

It is a very English morning, I'm still wearing jacket and jeans as the sun just starts to come out after lunch.

Happy Birthday To You, Mr President

a cool morning’s start. blustery,
overcast, almost a two sweater day,
Collingwood’s very English century
made in very English conditions

i’ve come from the fun of the eighteenth
Test Match Brekkie. seven hundred in a room
Without views ending with scantily
clad New York, New York, all for charity

no charity here. Pietersen
laces McGrath’s first for three fours.
no back-handers or deceits however political
each bound to be found out for what they are
in these most English of conditions.

Queing for a warm drink - it's that cold, I fall into conversation with a woman from the hills, as she puts it, the Barrosa wine growing country. She's not a big sports fan, here with the family to fetch coffees, coats...I explain my game with words and poetry - 'oh, I like poetry - I'll take a look at the website.' I guess she's the sort of person Ashes Poetry is also aimed at - you don't have to a be cricket fiend to enjoy cricket poetry.

With this cold weather I run the risk of Serious Cricket Watchers Neck. A repetitive strain injury caused by turning from the field of play to the replay screen for a particular minutae of action. In this instance a near edge of Pietersen off Lee. In the end the snickometer is indeterminate, so I guess the pen is edgier than the blade, even when facing Glen McGrath today. Slowly but remorselessly they bat through towards the interval. It’s as though England have taken control of the weather, the skies about the ground, as well as the game itself. Just before lunch Clarke replaces Clark but still Australia can't bring England to account.

After lunch the sun comes out but still England murder the Australian attack till it almost becomes an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms like military intelligence or an adequate supply of alcohol. Collingwood and Pietersen put on 310, before Collingwood is out for 206, both all time Ashes records for Adelaide.

The ground doesn’t seem to mind. It’s so achingly beautiful at times, you wouldn’t be too upset if your own team went down their elegant drains here. At the drinks interval the Gatorade trolley looks way out of place, an interloper on tradition and custom. It’s not just me who doesn’t like it. The ground holds it in comtempt.

Here’s a riddle …

What’s the difference between the Gatorade Trolley and the Aussie attack?

Both trundle onto the pitch to refresh England’s batsmen but the wheels haven’t come off the Gatorade Trolley.

Finally England declare at 581, just in time for blacksmith Flintoff to fire out Langer. I go to read at the South Australian Cricket Association Historian’s Baggie Green dinner in a very happy English frame of mind (which explains the relative shortness of this report.) I even manage to get one of the quiz questions right (Who played a single Ashes test match and soccer for Manchester United – Arnie Sidebottom) I also appreciate how cricket has a huge and varied love, perhaps more than any other game.

Record Heart Breakers

big tough antipodean arms,
sheep reivers, drove men used to labour,
held firm across broad chests,
hill people down for the day.

in silence they watch the Southern Cross
suffer. they eschew 3 blow-up fingers
to say Go Australia. they are australia.

jets cross the wicket, spectators
instructed how to inflate life-jackets
in case of emergencies. hill people
eyes remain motionless. fielders
motion to each other
across the paddock.

not waving but drowning