Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Tingling Catch in Wisden Cricketer

The following brief review of A Tingling Catch (by the books editor) appeared in The Wisden Cricketer, UK, April 2011, p. 95. The Wisden Cricketer is the ‘world’s No. 1 cricket magazine’ and is published monthly. It’s great to have a mention:


A Tingling Catch: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009 edited by Mark Pirie (HeadworX, pb, 189pp)

Natural events have put New Zealand’s sporting fortunes into perspective but in purely cricket terms New Zealand have had a rough time recently, losing
4-0 to Bangladesh and 5-0 to India in successive one-day series. Mark Pirie’s anthology is therefore timely to soothe those sores. Most of the verses are composed by some of the country’s literary names. Then there is Colin Croft’s ‘When Hadlee Bowls the Ball’, on
West Indies’ 1979-80 tour: ‘Don’t want to play with those flamin’ Kiwis / Don’t want to play them in a Test, / Don’t want to play with those flamin’ Kiwis / Before they came along we was the best!’ That’s more like it, though it is worth noting West Indies did not lose another Test series for 15 years.

I should note here in case there’s any confusion that the song mentioned by 'Colin Croft' (the West Indies fast bowler) is by ‘Colin Croft and the Maiden Overs’, a satirical group at the time, who penned the song. The lyrics to the song were first published by Sir Richard Hadlee in his collection Hadlee's Humour (1982).
The Wisden Cricketer website has recently been revamped and is now called The Cricketer: 'the new number one website for all supporters of English cricket'. The website includes, among other things, feature articles from The Wisden Cricketer (click on the heading Magazine). It's well worth following.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Suresh Menon's article on cricket poetry

A few years ago I read a very interesting article on cricket poetry by Suresh Menon, an Indian cricket writer. It first appeared in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2004 and was republished in cricinfo magazine's 'Print Run'. Here's the link:
It's a good introduction to cricket verse for the uninitiated with some famous quotations from poems by John Arlott and Alan Ross, two great cricket writers and cricket poets. Enjoy.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Maiden century for Tingling Catch

Today is Tingling Catch’s 100th post since October 2010. To celebrate I found a photo of myself raising my bat. The photo was originally taken for my 50 in publishing in 2008 (50 books published by my publishing company HeadworX at Winter Readings 2008, an event at City Gallery, Wellington). Nevertheless, it will do to raise the bat again here. My bat in the photo, a GM Cannon, is the one that I used for club cricket. I’ve always liked GM bats. Stephen Fleming, a favourite player at the time, used GM bats when playing for New Zealand.

I also had a dig into my poetry files and unearthed a cricket poem from 1982 by the late New Zealand poet and song-writer Jim Tocker about a club cricketer reaching a century against ‘mighty St Albans’. Tocker, a club cricketer, composed nearly 50 cricket songs for the former Old Collegians’ Cricket Club in Christchurch between the 1970s and 80s. They were collected in his sole publication, Songs of a Cricketer, which ran into several editions and was privately distributed to members of the club and interested friends and family.


A Hundred Today

I’m as pleased as Muldoon in November,
I’m as happy as kids in the hay.
No more a duck-scoring man with no luck,
I have made us a hundred today.

We were matched against mighty St Albans
Bowling from their team is seldom astray.
Though I was dropped when a ball really popped
I have a still made a hundred today.

In their first little burst
They were doing their worst
With their big bowling guns.
Then we found we could pound
All their bowlers around
And we piled on the runs.

When I finally got to three figures
I knew I’d always be able to say:
“You really strive and you’ll score just as I’ve
Made a hundred, a hundred, a hundred, a hundred
   a hundred this wonderful day!”

© Jim Tocker, 1999

(From Songs of a Cricketer by Jim Tocker, self-published, 1999 edition)

(Note: Muldoon is Rob Muldoon, then Prime Minister of New Zealand. Tocker also states humorously that the poem/song is to the tune of ‘I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy’.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

UK poet Anthony Rudolf's cricket memoir

This month I’ve been editing a new issue of my poetry magazine broadsheet: new new zealand poetry. The guest poet is British poet/translator Anthony Rudolf. Last year I wrote a brief article on his cricket interest. Here’s the cricket extract from his new memoir that Anthony sent me to publish in broadsheet:


From A Vanished Hand: My Autograph Album

A cricket scorecard pasted into my album, which I have successfully unpasted to read the reverse side, is rich with possibility, although I no longer remember whom I went with to the second day of the final Ashes test of 1956, held at the Oval. Doubtless I did not go to the Lord’s Test because, unlike the Oval, it was in term time. Possibly my companion was Paul Rochman, definitely not Michael Pinto-Duschinsky who had a skin condition preventing him from being in the sun. I wonder if the former Prime Minister, John Major, later president of Surrey, was there as a schoolboy. Born in March 1943, he is six months younger than me. Evidently Major and I look or looked alike because, while he was Prime Minister, I was quite often stopped in the street: “Are you the Prime Minister?”, asked some schoolboys. “Would I be walking around North Finchley in a tracksuit if I was John Major?” My nearest and dearest could not see it, but I could, and all those strangers thought so too. Vox populi, or what. The cricket gave me an excuse to write to him about our physical resemblance. I told him about the schoolboys, enclosed a photograph of me, and also a photocopy of the scorecard. Eventually a reply came from his Chief of Staff, Arabella Warburton: John Major did attend the Test match on the first day, when Compton played his last Test innings. There was no comment from him on the alleged likeness and she herself saw none. 
   Hugh Tayfield and Crawford White, the two signatures on my scorecard: my old Cambridge friend John Barrell did not need the following explanation when I consulted him, though non cricket fans or cricket non fans among my readers should be informed that Hugh Tayfield was a famous and distinguished South African off-spin bowler. All the same, I am not sure that it wasn’t Crawford White whom I recognised first. He was the cricket correspondent of the now defunct News Chronicle which we took at home along with the Times and it is possible his photograph was printed alongside his by-line. According to the Guardian obituary of White in 2000, “his most difficult job was ghosting Denis Compton’s column”. The previous Test at Old Trafford saw Laker take nineteen wickets (eat your heart out, rival Tayfield), a unique record to this day. I consulted John because I wasn’t sure if I attended the Oval on the first or second day, and accuracy, as in left arm spin bowling, is of the essence. At first I thought that I picked up the scorecard — which shows England all out for 247 and Australia 13 for three wickets — at the end of play on the first day but John Barrell writes, consulting his memory and the 1957 Wisden which he owns: “if memory serves, Compton was out for 94 after six o’clock on the first day, and, in failing light, May decided to send in Lock as night-watchman. But he was out first ball to Archer, and so Washbrook had to come in. He averted the hat-trick but fell before the close, also to Archer; Evans immediately fell to Miller, and England ended the day at 223 for 7, having been 222-3 half an hour before.”  The score on my card suggests that the printers on the ground were late in bringing it out on the second morning or, less likely, brought out a second edition quickly. I seem to remember we had our own cricket books on whose blank templates we could keep score, but mine have not survived the passing of time.
   Cyril Washbrook was aged forty-one and was one of the England selectors. The first four England batsmen on the scorecard are listed as P.E. Richardson, M.C. Cowdrey, Rev. D.S. Shepherd and P.B.H. May. The rest of the England team was Compton, D.C.S., Lock, G.A.R., Evans, T.G. (keeping wicket of course), Laker, J.C., Tyson, F.H., and Statham, J.B. Note the initials: the first four England players were amateurs (“gentlemen”), the last seven professionals (“Players”) and the convention, which I touched on earlier in respect of John Warr, was to identify them by the position of their initials. On the other hand the entire Australian team have their initials first. John Barrell explains: “all the Australians were adjudged to be amateurs in those days. If memory serves, and it does, there were only five teams in the Sheffield Shield at that time, too few to justify their paying professionals, and they played only over long weekends, but not on Sundays.” The match was eventually drawn. England won the rubber and the Ashes. Barrell very kindly scanned theWisden match report for me. The scorecard cost me three old pence, has its own individual number 171011 (or is that the number of the edition?) and an advertisement for “Shell with I.C.A.”: “Only Shell has both high octane and I.C.A”.  I emailed Shell’s customer service to find out what I.C.A. stands for and received no reply. Perhaps they think I am an anti-pollution activist. Odd how John Barrell was the only person I could turn to, given that a few weeks earlier I asked him if he could tell me the name of the anonymous author of an 1816 article in the Edinburgh Review.    

(Coda: A recent obituary of the Middlesex off-spinner Fred Titmus refers to a loudspeaker announcement at Lord’s concerning the scorecard: “For F.J. Titmus please read Titmus F.J.”. Apart from calypsos, the only song that I know of which refers to cricket is on an album called Back in the DHSS, made by the Indie group Half Man Half Biscuit, “Fuckin’ ’ell, it’s Fred Titmus”. Sadly, unlike the lead singer, I never met him to obtain his autograph).

© Anthony Rudolf 2011

See also my blog post "Anthony Rudolf - UK poet with a cricket interest" (October 2010).