Sunday, June 23, 2013

Michael Walker’s new Richard Hadlee poem

When I put together A Tingling Catch, the name that recurred most frequently in New Zealand cricket poems was none other than Sir Richard Hadlee.
Hadlee himself often included some of the poems written for him in his collections of cricketing humour and anecdotes, a nice touch. One of the poems I didn’t seem to have in my collection though was a poem on Hadlee at the Gabba.
Just recently, the Auckland poet Michael Walker, who wrote a poem on the NZ-England Eden Park Test in March this year, sent me a new sonnet on Hadlee at the Gabba.
The poem gives a good record of one of the most remarkable bowling feats in our Test history during that famous win over Australia, which I saw on TV highlights.
I saw Hadlee bowl mainly with his shortened run in in the '80s. He started as a tearaway fast bowler in the '70s, with a long run-up. Walker asserts in the last line “the greatest fast bowling” based on statistics re: Test wickets taken in one innings. The few above Sir Richard on the list were either spinners or medium-pacers. Jim Laker’s all-ten against Australia remains the benchmark. Walker recalls Bill Lawry referring to Hadlee as “the great fast bowler” at the end of Australia’s first innings.
I’ll share the poem with you here:


At The Gabba
I was at The Gabba while on holiday in Brisbane in July, 1996,
reflecting on New Zealand’s win here in the First Test in November, 1985
by an innings and 41 runs – the prelude to a 2-1 series win:
a loss in Sydney by four wickets; a win in Perth by six wickets.

I saw Richard Hadlee, bowling off his smooth, shortened run-up,
getting close to the stumps, swinging the ball both ways in the
humid, cloudy conditions, take all four wickets on the shortened
first day, then five more the next morning – figures of nine for 52.

In reply, New Zealand amassed 553 for 7 declared, a lead of 374,
Martin Crowe scoring a luminous 188; J.F. Reid an invaluable 108;
I saw most of the Australian batsmen succumb to Hadlee again (6-71)
and Chatfield (3-75), except Matthews’s century and Border’s 152 not out.

It was all over early on the fifth day, New Zealand’s first test win in Australia,
and the greatest Test fast bowling, by a tall man who ran in like a
June 2013

Poem © Michael Walker 2013

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