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, March 16, 2007

Five-Nil - Brisbane ~ First Test

Courage Of Convictions

Some good, some bad, and some ordinary
people the wrong side of the law to hold
their breath against the creak of deck, rope and
canvas; fixed blank stars slowly alter course
to form a rough southern cross. Realign antipodes

Of lives, destiny and political aspirations.
Now history. Not then. No recompense,
No going back to a dense world of pre-Dickensian
poverty and country-house cricket, a betting game
played for highish stakes fixed by judge and jury
to add to their amusement. A stay of execution
meant no return till the end of each testing sentence

Whose surf, shore and hinterland are unknown,
prime and aboriginal – not the first southern cross,
secret rivers more muddied and altered by distant secrets.
Imprisoned by nothing but the land’s fresh horizons
how could all survive, endure and flourish?

Today twenty-two flannelled fools replay
Australia, set to court failure
on no other grounds.

Kate Grenville’s novel The Secret River, published 2005 about William Thornhill, a convict sent from London to New South Wales less than two hundred years ago.

‘We’re the right side, we’re the right side, we’re the right side over here.
We’re the left side, we’re the left side, we’re the left side over here.
We’re the middle, we’re the middle, we’re the middle over here.
You’re the convicts, You’re the convicts, you’re the convicts over there.’
Barmy Army Chant 2006-7 Ashes Series


Woolloongabba they come from far
they come from far to play to play
Woolloongabba Woolloongabba

Waters whirling winds in our hearts
Wind still whirling whirling waters
Whirling fight talk place noisome boys
Warriors outdo warriors outdo out do

place to talk fight die share and drown
warrior-boy lacerated placentas
of fight-talk-hope in whirling waters
Woolloongabba Woolloongabba

According to Cricket Australia’s official guide to the Ashes Series, The Gabba, venue of the First Test at Brisbane, derives its name from Woolloongabba, which may mean “whirling waters” or “fight talk place” in the Aboriginal language of Woolloongabba

The Blacksmith and The Dancer
End of Day One Australia 346 for 3 A Flintoff 2 for 42 R T Ponting 137no

Down they come, twenty-four hammering blows
Run up against the anvil, crease to crease;
England’s finest, leader of tall strong men
Pounds a flat pitch to make something from nothing.

Thor’s great maul hurls down from the north
Red-hot ingots which bounce and spit
Off the anvil to thud pain and fury
Even into the cuffed gloves of his keeper
Three pitches distant from the beginning.

Those in the middle dodge hurtling force,
The smell of singed leather beneath noses
Sears their minds long after danger passes
Till an opener edges heat and is gone.

The dancer comes. Small, slick-quick tip-toe feet
A ballet pump or conductor’s baton
In his hands against Thor’s redoubled thunder
Strong enough to break his own braw bones
In full pursuit of forging victories.

The dancer banishes other tradesmen.
No interest but the blacksmith’s anvil,
Each hammerblow a pirouette, paso
Doble, cock a snook at the once red-hot ingot

Dulled with dancer’s taps as worn floors
For clubbing once clubbing has been done.
Sore feet and hours from Hobart unto Accrington,
The dancer and the blacksmith each know the score;
One or the other of them must be broken.
The dancer needs the smith to play
As the smith the dancer’s touch
To end the dancer’s say.

Glen’s Song
Day Three England 157 all out GD McGrath 6-50

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every small mistake, every risk you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single run
Every sledge when you turn
Every game we play, every ball you stay
I’ll be watching you

Oh, can’t you see
You belong to me?
How my hard heart aches
With every play and miss
Every waft you make
Every edge it takes
Every smile you fake, every aim I take
You’ll be watching me

Since you can’t play you’re lost without a trace
I yell alright, appeal straight in your face
You look askance, but your life you can’t replace
It feels so cold, walking back to your disgrace
Keep on trying, bunny, to touch my accuracy.

Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every small mistake, every risk you take
I’ll be watching you

With apologies to The Police ‘Every Breath You Take’

The Lap Of The Gods

Andy’s on the blower to his missus in Jakarta
To accelerate the thunder due tomorrow afternoon.
She knows a rain doctor who dries out golf courses
To pilot this bad weather which can’t come too soon.

The Barmy Army take the Gabba with gamps and umbrellas
To make the most of Ricky Ponting batting way past his bedtime.
Queensland and England desperately need precipitation,
State and nation wager all on the imminent arrival of their Cloud Nine.

Of course it doesn’t come on schedule, ignoring devout Christian prayer.
Level Four drought measures squeeze the last drops of moisture from the bone-dry air.
“Conserve natural resources, drink tinnies to piss on those dirty washed-out poms”
Won’t help out-of-town dried-up apple farmers avec ces pommes sans terre.

Maybe a scientific warning of incipient global warming
Could turn Brisbane’s Gabba into a tidal lagoon.
Climatic chronology and geomorphology
Might well lead to underwater cricket all too soon.

Tomorrow it’s onto Adelaide, Mighty Mighty England already one down.
Drought restrictions still enforced; one side or the other about to drown.

England 2nd innings 293-5 overnight, still over 300 runs behind.
“Only rain can save Australia now” Barmy Army chant
“All Sunday they prayed in churches in Queensland for rain” ABC producer