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 Poetry - Melbourne ~ 4th Test

The G, The MCG aka Melbourne Cricket Ground

No village green or country paddock,
the mower misses the long grass wrapped
around the roller and peeling sight screens
pushed over for winter, benches tipped up,
in brass-plated memory of Roger or Ethel
who spent many a long afternoon
eskie or thermos to hand and oblivion
their world conversed by, yet reflected in the blank
replay lcd switched off from instant history
far above the swaying tree line
in Section Gods of this immense roman gladiatorial
arena past and future argue the toss with Janus
who should put thumbs up or down. At the heart of it all
lies an empty field; meadow hay scythed, grass grazed out.
Twenty-two yards, wicket to wicket,
tenth of a furlong, a chain
to tie bat to ball, a landscape
of former empire, medieval origins,
acres ploughed through the mind,
one hundred and five thousand assemble
here to worship.

Warne, Shane Keith
born 13 September 1969 test match debut January 1992
Upon passing his seventh hundred test match wicket
(To the jig, The Sailor’s Hornpipe)

Warnie’s balls turn square, KP hit ’em in the air.
A six or out, there is no doubt.
You get a funny feeling one side’ll be reeling
Ev’ry time Warnie’s balls turn square.

A leggie of Clarrie Grimmett’s accuracy (+ some hair)
The wrong ’un, hard to pick, howzat when flummoxed through the air,
The flipper and the toppie, zooter and the slider
Plus the chatter: yells with looks, asides and pleas,
(the only time the bloke’s down on his knees.)
A Clarence Darrow George Carman at the crease,
No umpire on earth however stoney could say no,
Another baffled if reluctant victim tries to dilly-dally but he has to go.

Next-man-in’s almost out before he’s in.
The legendary magician’s mesmeric legerdemain’s sure to snuff him.
He knows he’ll have to face a flighty camisole tease:
A sinner’s glimpse of fleshy orbed fruit rouged to tantalise
Unveils a hirsute off-the-shoulder Australian hero’s chest
Full of tricks the antipodean baccus of temptation doesn’t divest
Before the silly fool with bat and pads knows he’s transgressed
The blond cherubim’s spinning finger umps him to rest.

Warne, S. K., made his Ashes debut in 1993.
A burgeoning waistline ever since indicates increasingly adequate social activity.
Shoulder strapped, lucky charms, his daughter’s bracelet,
The bald truth’s patently clear, he should really try to face it;
Whatever schemes and dreams of schemes are whirling on within,
The top of his head is not quite what it used to be.
(In fact qua this rhyme, each attempted betting shop remedy to hold back follicular entropy,
His pate, contra fullsome midriffs, pulls or appeals, is ready to turn woefully thin.)
Harum-scarums with mobiles and diuretics,
His simple way with words schtums clever-dick critics,
Through thick and thin he’s always gone back
To his mark: A three-card trick-sy four-step run

That flummoxed Fat Gatt with the ball of last century,
At the lees of his career, the ikon’s tank’s pretty near empty.
Lo, he gambols past Strauss, A. J., namely Seven Hundred
And another One. (Parade-book poms mentioned in dispatches:
A walk-on, walk-off part to line-up in honour of his last five-for.)
Forget the waist and the hair or your age. Heed guru Terry Jenner’s old adage
If you’re good enough, you’re old enough - Let him rip his ripper one last rip:
We’re all sure to miss all its extra extra supradextrous wristily hot-digity extra
mischievous zip.

Admidst chuntering trundling, The Grauniad's Nietzsche-in-Chief
Metaphysical Mighty Mike Selvey sniffs
‘No game’s over till the fat boy spins.’
I’ll buy that, gimme me one more, Skip.
Good on yer, Warnie, hands ready on knees at slip,
Rub haloes with Saint Richie
At the end of any spell in the commentary box above.
May it please Father Time
To both Bless and Love
How your balls turned square!

V- 8 Batting

aussie cars come with muscle for extra hustle
to cover the ground across the states.

hear them burble, roar and hurtle
past bystanders awash with their dust.

in Queensland they understand
these unwritten rules of the road.

big blokes with big strokes
smack the ball and keep the score

accelerating towards a vanishing point
of vanquished oblivion

foot flat out down the wicket
the Hayden-Symonds 279

has all the go you need to show
a howling good motor

the poms innings defeat
looms large in its rear-view mirror.


Ghosts of ghosts of ghosts. The moving hand
Having writ will move on. Each stroke of the pen
Is a mark to be recorded but not taken back.
It is edgier than the blade.

The English batsmen, nothing to lose
Having lost the greatest prize, play at playing.
Their strokes not worthy of themselves
nor their imagination. Out.

Bat under arm, an envelope sealed of a letter
They never wished to write:
An imposition in detention,
It is signed, sealed and delivered.
The long slow empty walk to a lost pavilion.

Ghosts of ghosts of ghosts,
The originals swear under their breaths
To weep real enough tears.

Fifty Ways To Lose The Ashes
(after Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon)

It’s bad to be defeated
All too easily.
We travelled here with such high hopes
To end in misery.
It could have been much worse though how
I cannot see.
There must be fifty ways
To lose the Ashes.

A negative strategy made it
Harder to win,
And by the same token opponents
Reckon you’re about to give in.
We bent right over
So you could give our arse a good kicking,
There must be fifty ways
To lose the Ashes.
Fifty ways to lose the Ashes.


Play the Australians.
Pick Geraint Jones
Ahead of Chris Read.
Don’t prepare for the Gabba,
Ignore Monty Panesar,
Madness at Adelaide,
Led t(w)o the Waca.

Over a hundred thousand
Have paid to be at the MCG.
Even a fourth Aussie victory
Will seem a little empty,
Now there’s nothing we can do
To make the series live again.
A win is still a loss;
You don’t need to use
All those fifty ways.

Maybe it doesn’t matter
If we go and lose five nil.
We’ve already lost what we
aimed to fulfill. We can’t change
Those first three games,
There must be fifty ways
To lose the Ashes.
Fifty ways to lose the Ashes.


Play the Australians.
Pick Geraint Jones
Ahead of Chris Read.
Don’t prepare for the Gabba,
Ignore Monty Panesar,
Madness at Adelaide,
Led t(w)o the Waca.