Friday, May 10, 2013

Michael Walker’s NZ-England cricket poem

New Zealand’s tour of England, often the pinnacle achievement for New Zealand cricketers, began last week.
In past times when they toured England (1920s-1950s), they arrived by ship and played a large number of matches. Back then, these lengthy tours signified. In particular, they made the reputation of a New Zealand cricketer on the world stage. That was the case in 1949 when New Zealand batsmen Martin Donnelly and Bert Sutcliffe made their names in a fine team captained by Walter Hadlee.
Now, a New Zealand tour to England may contain only two Tests and warm-up matches if lucky. Perhaps the players to watch on this current tour are young opener Hamish Rutherford, bowler Trent Boult, top-order batsman Kane Williamson and wicketkeeper B J Watling.
For 2013’s tour, New Zealand received two warm-up matches, a welcome boost, and they made good by defeating Derbyshire in the first of these.
New Zealand is now looking to build on a solid display at home where they nearly beat the world number two team England in a very interesting test series.
After the third and final test, a spectacular draw played out at Eden Park in March, an Auckland poet Michael Walker composed the following poem of interest, which contains a line from the English poet and mystic William Blake and gives generous credit to England wicket keeper Matt Prior’s face-saving century.
I’ll share it with you here:


Eden Park Test

It has been seasons since a cricket test was played
on Eden Park so we took the chance to watch three days
of it, instead of listening to the radio commentary,
eager to see and assess the drop-in pitch too – a compromise.

I noticed many improvements in the interim, the air of a
real international stadium; the silver stands and grey seating
sloping down to greet the grass mown in strips in a criss-cross
pattern pleased my eye, as did the two big screen/scoreboards.

The corporate boxes, high up on the covered stands, were new to me
but who would want to be in one of these coveted places?
We were happy on the partly covered eastern stand,
able to move from the blazing sunshine to the shade.

The first day we were near the Barmy Army, intermittently
chanting, clapping in rhythm, singing verses of Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’;
Mainly because a New Zealand opener, on the comeback trail,
had scored two aggressive centuries, and a promising left-arm quick

had scythed through the England first innings, a New Zealand win
was very likely by the fourth day, but I fancy it was Blake's line:
"I will not cease from Mental Fight", that inspired
Prior's century and helped England hold out for a draw.

Poem © Michael Walker 2013

Poem revised by the author from first publication by editor Tony Chad in Valley Micropress, Vol. 16, Issue 4, April 2013

Let’s hope New Zealand can continue this form and produce another fine contest in England in the coming weeks.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

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