Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dominion Post – Jack Perkins’s The Basin

The Basin Test petered out to a predictable draw on Wednesday evening with Pakistan not willing to push for victory. Fair enough, they had secured the series 1-0. NZ bowled two needless extra overs to make matters worse for frustrated spectators. A cricket law made play run till as the last hour started at so two overs were bowled to make play finish at .
Jack Perkins’s poem from A Tingling Catch appeared in The Dominion Post’s “Thursday Poem” page today. The poem is a fine poetic portrait of the Basin Reserve. The poem like this week’s game ends in a draw.


The Basin

Alchemy of sun, rain, grass and soil
the ground staff’s patient weeks of toil
will test two countries on a wicket
pampered by water and roller
prepared to be neither paradise
nor purgatory for batsman or bowler.

First morning of the Test Match sees
a flash of shiny red impact on green
and the ball like a rapier flick off the seam
to feather the edge and the catch is held
and so is the crowd by this eye-blink drama.
But – oh the surprise – the umpire’s finger
fails to rise.

Afternoon brings an easier pitch, the pace
more leisurely, measured by a century.
Looped between lunch and tea
the slow bowler’s web is finely spun
two batsmen ensnared for not many runs.

In the Long Room members watch players
enter and exit but recall a different cast
from earlier plays: Crowe’s majestic cut and hook
Sutcliffe’s grace or Hadlee’s record-breaking feat
all mixed with tonic or savoured neat.

The eastern bank’s bared-torso fans
toast boundaries and bouncers with cans
of beer and cheer women bravely parading
or salute a fieldsman’s diving save
arms upraised in Mexican wave.

A nor’wester gatecrashes the third day’s play
and dresses players in long-sleeved sweaters.
Into the bail-scattering gale
buffeted bowlers lean their shoulders.
Wind, gusting swirling twists their stride
balls misguided down leg side.

On the fifth, final day, the Test
proves no match for Wellington’s weather.
Curtains of rain, the stumps and the game
all drawn together.

January 2002

Poem © Jack Perkins 2009

(The poem was first published in Jack Perkins’s collection of blogs, Not Out! No Ball! Over!, Cricket Mystery, Wellington, 2009)

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