Driving through town
listening to the cricket
I saw a man
in the road’s grassy middle
about to thread a three-lane needle
with his body
glass, metal, flesh, blood
He danced ahead
like a batsman at the bowler’s end
just before the leather leaves
the bowler’s hand
then scuttled back
to bide another chance
walk, run, dive, swallow
You fool, I thought
you bloody bunny
as my own life’s risky runs
replayed for me right then
though I knew on his far crease
there was no-one looking out to call
I've only ever played cricket once in my life. That was when I was a university student more years ago than I'd like to admit. It was a social game between the 'Onslow Street Onslaughts' (the team I was roped in to make up the numbers for) and a team from a local pub - the 'Caledonian Allstars'.
The game was played somewhere in rural Canterbury on a hot summer Saturday. I remember there was a shed, kegs, a concrete pitch, long grass, large trees, sheep droppings, and a set of rules which bore some likeness to the real game's ones. From that one experience, I went on to love watching cricket. I love its mercurialness, how it can unfold in unexpected ways, the real-life parallels.
A much later incident I observed, which is described in the first stanza above, was the genesis for 'Road Cricket'.
The result of the game I played in? An unexpected and last over victory to the Onslaughts, of course. (This particular claim can be verified by a friend of mine who played in that game and went on to become an international test cricket umpire. We wouldn't both claim a win that wasn't now, would we? That wouldn't be cricket.)
Visit Tuesday Poem for more poems this week and also check on the progress of Tuesday Poem's third birthday rolling jazz poem.