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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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Perth Day One – in the balance

All confusion - the tickets say 10.30 start, the official Cricket Australia official Ashes Tour Book 11.00, we kick off at 11.30. The Waca (not Aborigine but Western Australian Cricket Association) is ramshackle. More Headingley with decent weather and palm trees. If The Gabba was the Strineship Enterprise, then The Waca is Thunderbirds Are Go. The Inverarity, Prindiville, but particularly the Lillee Marsh stand with its modernist concrete office block behind are straight off Tracy Island. 'Okay, Scott. We just got a distress call from the England cricketers in Australia, apparently their Ashes hopes are going up in smoke. Only International Rescue can help them now.'

Talking of which, England pick Mahmood and Panesar

We Two Kings

We two kings from Orient are,
Sajid Mahmood and Panesar.
From Pakistan and India,
Their parents give good cheer

The attacking option. Australia go one better and win the toss. As usual Langer and Hayden play their strokes and ride their luck.

22-0 - Billy the trumpeter starts, which at least gets Freddie's attention at second slip. If we win this game, there's a ready-made excuse, no, reason, for going two down in the first place - a lack of Billy The Trumpet, who needs to do a Josuah at the Aussie Walls of Jericho.

Trumpet Voluntary – to tune of Land of Hope and Glory

Land of hope and Billy
Trumpets cross Aussie Grounds
Proscribed at Adelaide and Gabba
At Perth we rose to your sound

Maybe it won't do the trick but the Barmy Army falsetto Aussie singing has everyone in good humour. 27-0.

Every Australian

Every Australian
wants to be Matthew Hayden.
Giant stride forward to meet the ball,
great arc of willow becomes a maul
to drive each pom into the back
of the outback and beyond.
Every Australian
Wants to be Matthew Hayden.
Not to be outdone, Langer hooks Flintoff for four - through midwicket, then a flashing coverdrive - straight over the keeper's head. 39-0 My start of play lunchtime prediction of 87-3 looks a tad optimistic, at least wickets wise

42-0 Stevo Harmison enters the attack, but at 47 the Great Australian Hayden flashes the great arc once too often and is caught Jones, bowled,that's right, Hoggard. It might be the last appearance of the Great Australian Hayden, who is an endangered species, but the real contest starts. Ponting The Magnificent.

Exit for 3, the Tasmanian Devil lbw Harmison, to one which could well be going down leg-side, which from a partisan point of view, makes the success taste all the sweeter. Contest now on, Harmison bowling with fire, Flintoff tight, for the first time in the series, the England attack has the Green Baggies on the back foot, literally as well as metaphorically. Runs dry up, Flintoff grasses a hard chance from Langer off Harmison, and enter Monty Panesar with a maiden. The signs are good. John Major won the bag of 3 mobile goodies. Not the John Major, President of Surrey, friend of Edwina (note the Derby connection) and keeper of the Grey Underpants. Or maybe it was the John Major, after all.

Whatever the signs, this is the real England, with fire in their belly. They might have left for the WACA before the Adelaide Test was finished but they’ve certainly arrived here.

Mahmood joins Monty, two kings from Orient are. Langer cleaned bowled Panesar 37, last ball before lunch. 69 for 3. A pearler of a delivery.

The Demon Panesar

You become yourself as you reach the crease
Gently poised paces, all limbs leaned to slight
Opponents’ fraught intent. Deft, accurate,
no whimsical flight; quick arm at its height
injects lethal charm to bewitch them out.
You need show no mercy until they leave.
At drinks I’d just untrousered ten Australian dollars - about threppence in the Queen's shilling - for a raffle to support Western Australian junior cricket. They might be needed sooner than anticipated....

Clarke and Hussey bat well after lunch, but at the drinks interval Harmison pouches at return catch from Clarke 121 for 4. In the roof terrace of Tracy Island the taches of Lillee and Marsh droop and might just detach themselves from the rest of their puppets' strings. Enter Symonds a pom turned Oz, who doubtless possesses more hair in one of his braids than Warnie has left naturally in his napper. The braids stop shaking after each of his successive straight sixes land in the crowd, braids vs turban. Hussey has a word between the braided one's braids shell-like, and the next ball is extravagantly cut into the keeper's gloves. Symonds ct Jones b Panesar 26. 172 for 5. Gilchrist bat-pads to short-leg for a duck. 172 for 6. I get grief from a Burnley supporter for the inaccuracy of my tea-time prediction of 165 for 6 being a few runs short. Mea culpa, we beat them last Saturday by a dodgy penalty.

214 - 7 Warne out à la Symonds, cutting to Jones. Hussey still there for a well-played fifty, especially his off-driving, a purist's delight. My 65 for 2 at stumps looks interesting.

Enter the Gatorade drinks cart, and I dream of another antipodean contest….the Gatorade cart and the Tizer truck go head-to-head for the honour of a final against the winner of Extra-fizzy Cream Soda versus Dandelion & Burdock. How we yearn for the olden days of Robinson's Barley Water and Rose's Lime Cordial. I should sarsaparilla.

234 - 8 Lee lbw Panesar 10. Monty’s bagged a fivefor.

We Two Kings

We two kings from Orient are,
Sajid Mahmood and Panesar.
From Pakistan and India,
Their parents give good cheer

O five for ninetyfour on day one,
You’ve done well, come on my son,
After Monty, Sajid will take plenty
Following your cricketing stars

244 all out. Harmison cleans up the tail, 4 for 48. Billy's trumpet has clearly tuned up the Harmoniser with plenty of bounce and lift. Hussey left stranded on 74, a little like Collingwood at Adelaide.

Desert Island

Left, deserted, undefeated
how might you have done more?

Chance your arm, get out sooner
yet not your fault for other’s failures
to heed circumstances as found.

The innings end might seem a rescue
from a desert island you never wanted to leave
but like Robinson Crusoe you too had to go
having grown accustomed to a place and its ways

England start well. Strauss smacks Lee's first two deliveries for four, just as Radio Derby ring for a live interview in the morning - far too much background noise to proceed. At least my Nokia 1100 didn't take any wickets.

36 for 1 Cook ct Langer b McGrath 15 The Aussie crowd no longer quite so quiet.

37 for 2 Bell ct Gilchrist b Lee 0. Ten overs to go, eight more runs to save the follow-on, England would buy 65 for 2 at stumps, ending on 51.

Walking home I see a women waiting in a car….

She reads a book in the driver’s seat
Of a bright yellow Ford Falcon XR6

Then realise there are dozens of them, not necessarily reading the same book. There’s a poem in there somewhere, not necessarily in the books they’re reading, but something on the lines of Cricket Widows.