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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Friday, January 05, 2007

Sydney Day Four – Endings

Defeat is all but inevitable. The crushing five-nil loss an ice-berg dwarfing the Titanic.

But Professor Fiffle-Faffle has devised equipment to help England supporters in the one day games for the rest of the tour – The Rose-Tinted Raybans

They turn blue caps into green, and green into blue – and they work for Australians too, as their team of world-beaters disintegrates before their eyes. A prototype has already been tested by the England team manager but alas he remains ever dismal.

The game is quickly over. Third ball Pietersen half-forward hangs his bat out to edge McGrath to Gilchrist. John Arlott once described a beaten batsman as looking like a Henry Moore statue. KP is one of those ghost buccaneers crewing The Black Pearl from Pirates of The Caribbean, all powers drained from body and soul.

England yet to score, Read calls Panesar for a quick single, Monty run out by a foot, failing to ground his bat as Symonds’ throw uproots off-stump.

My ticket states Obstructed Brewongle, which sounds too painful for words, so playing seat-hookey I’m surrounded by blokes in check shirts, the Paddington Chess Club, who don’t play chess. It is a means to secure bookings at pubs and clubs – chess players aren’t reckoned to wreck the joint or welch on bills. I see their point, thinking of the look I received at the desk of the Bowls Club Sydney (an honoured guest at the 23rd dinner of the Sydney Cricket Writers) when asked where I was staying in Sydney. Don’t think the Redfern Ex-Crims Association would find it quite as easy as the PCC to make bookings. Their Chief Oppo, King Louis and their blues singer Delilah sign my hat. I like the Paddington Chess Club, there is something of Guys and Dolls, Damon Runyon, about them. When I get back to Blighty must put them in touch with the Serious Cricket Watchers Society, of which I’m the founder member.

Couple of streaky fours, Read ct Ponting b Lee 4, “That’s how to do it, Justin,” his captain might say “Remember the next time you play.” England +20 for 8

Billy the Trumpet plays ‘Yesterday’

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they're here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday

Half the problem with English cricket is a belief only in yesterday.

From about that time Billy goes into the Manfred Mann number Pretty Flamingo

Win Back The Ashes

Back home you’re sure to ask how we lost the Ashes
Were our players not as good?
Didn’t they play as they should?
All quite true, doesn’t say why we lost the Ashes.
Negativity wasn’t right
It let them tonk us out of sight.
It’s a dream all of Australia realised,
We should try it, cos then we wouldn’t be so surprised
At what might come true.

One sweet day we’ll learn how to win back the Ashes
Then Australia will envy us
Instead of saying we’re pretty wuss

Let’s fight back to win the Ashes
Win back the Ashes.

Mahmood lbw McGrath 4. Caught on the crease, not moving forward or back. My elder brother Daniel who nearly exploded yesterday because the English batsmen hadn’t learnt from earlier mistakes is probably seeking succour in eating his teatime sandwich as the end nears. (‘Teatime sandwich?’ Yes, Aussie Bloke, the Fines are incurable optimists, gluttons for punishment as well as nosh) England still + 20 but for 9

Drinks. Crowd Security stop Delilah singing the Chess Club song. As Peter White whose house in Redfern I’m staying in (where the first Prime Minister of Australia grew up, Bowls Club Sydney, please note) said this morning ‘It ends not with a bang but a whimper’ T S Eliot, I say. The Wasteland, we concur, apt for the current state of English cricket, and its writer’s name is an anagram for toilets, which more or less sums up summing up the cricket from an England perspective. I wrote a blues at Perth when the Ashes were finally lost

The English Ashes Hopes Blues

We don't need no Aussie Scoreboard to tell us the Ashes are gone.

The Aussie version would start

The Australian Ashes Blues

You don't need no Aussie Scoreboard to tell you the Ashes are gone,
But winning 5-0 doesn’t smack of triumphalism.
You thought you were pretty good, but were up against the best
Came here underprepared, andwe just did the rest.
You don't need no Aussie Scoreboard to tell you the Ashes are gone.

It’s Australia’s Day now. A few Harmie blows delay the inevitable, Anderson skying McGrath. England all out + 45.

Langer and Hayden come out to knock them off. At first it’s hard yakka. About as hard as the ball Harmison bruises Langer with. Justin must be thinking ‘No more analgesic sprays, ice-packs, and tenderness turning over in bed.’

‘It’s an absolute privilege and honour to wear the baggie green cap one hundred and five times and I’ll really miss it,’ he says at the ceremony afterwards, and his cap is about old and faded as Steve Waugh’s.

When this Ashes Tour is Over (tune of What A Friend We Have In Jesus)

When this Ashes tour is over
No more cricketing for me,
I shall put my commentator’s mike on
To give expert summary on tv.

No more ducking Stevie Harmison,
No more edging Hoggie over the slips,
I shall kiss the gold of my green baggie,
God, I’ll miss this whence it leaves my lips.

(Sung with great feeling and Welsh choralness A modification of the lyrics of When This Lousy War is Over, from “Oh What A Lovely War”; Joan Littlewood, based on the original hymn by Joseph Scriven “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”)

‘It could go into the afternoon,’ I say to the bloke from Perth, who remembers Langer’s father, a good West Australia player too. ‘I hope not,’ he replies.

On cue Hayden on-drives Mahmood for six, and after a consultation with his opening partner to determine who shall have the honour of it, off-drives the winning hit. The crowd go crazy, in the middle they remove helmets and embrace like long-lost brothers after a hard-fought war has ended in victory.

The crowd stay behind to celebrate the 5-0 Strinewash, and the end of three great players’ careers. “Thnx” says the text painted in the turf

Thnx Justin, Glen and Shane

No tears in their eyes
As they say their goodbyes.

Emotional men. Their passions controlled
Their destinies to excel themselves
For mates and their country.
Weeping publicly is for Oscar ceremonies,
Not the proud bearers of the Baggy Green.

Tears came alright
At times of uncertainty, injury,
Loss of form and controversy.
They wussed from our eyes
Alone, facing torment
To achieve after failure.
Each sob made us stronger,
Bolder, harder, far older
And yet more kind,
Appreciative of hard yakka.

Thank you, Australia

No tear in our eyes
As we say our good byes.

Warne and McGrath – I want to write Shane and Glen, but I don’t know them, and more the point, they don’t know me – pose with their kids for the media. You can see that Shane will always be a kid. I think how important the Ashes are to both countries. In establishing Australia as a nation. Her first prime minister, Edmund Barton, brought up his first three children in the house where I typing this. Perhaps in a room which was a nursery. Australia as a state didn’t exist till 1901. Before then it was a set of separate states, and to bring them together was a hard-fought effort, certainly harder than the current series, which began in 1882. Cricket and the Ashes helped form Australia – and continues to do so. Will it help the development of England?

The ceremonies continue, where all pay homage to the support of the Barmy Army (What about your Fanatics, Australia?) with Captain Andrew Flintoff going over to bow to them.

Oblivious children of the Australian players gambol and frolic on empty parts of the paddock. I think of my own childhood, parents and also Freda, my brother Paul’s partner, her friends and family, grieving her sudden loss on Christmas Day. Her funeral is today. Think of her in heaven looking down upon us, smiling.


Dad, spend more time with us.
Pick up from school, act the fool,
be the long one instead of mum
when we don’t do what we should’ve done.

You’ve missed us, we’ve missed you.
Watch us grow up,
achieve the new.

Run, skip and dance
from dreams and memory
to your final match, here.
Playing games on the pitch
our farewell to you.
A blue dress cartwheel
our turn to show
what we can do.

Cartwheel Cartwheel Cartwheel.