Wednesday, October 30, 2013

George Kaye’s 1974 NZ cricket poem

A cricket poem I found recently is in a book donated to PANZA (Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa). It’s in a hardback, beautifully produced collection Boots and Pack by George Kaye, printed in 1974.
There are no biographical details given for the poet but he appears to have grown up in Lower Hutt and the Hutt Valley in the Wellington region of New Zealand.
Included in the book are illustrations by Peter McIntyre (1910-1995, the WWII New Zealand artist) and it is well printed by Wright & Carman Ltd, Trentham, Hutt Valley.
PANZA has a second book by Kaye titled Hills of Life (1978).
A search of the National Library online catalogue brings up several other books by this author who was born on 14 March 1914 and was a war correspondent and photojournalist for the press. Kaye served with the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Forces in World War II. He has also authored history books about Lower Hutt and the WWII New Zealand campaigns in Greece and Italy and contributed photographs to other books. Kaye died in 2004. Peter Kitchin wrote a tribute for him ‘War seen through a lens’, The Dominion Post, 15 July 2004.
In Kitchin’s obituary he focuses mainly on his war period and the 7,000 images that Kaye took during WWII, including a well-known photo of General Bernard Freyberg. Kaye commenting on his time at war said: ‘I felt death pass me by and that scared me. You have got to experience a brush with death before you experience a war.’
Bruised in to poetry by the death of his son tramping at age 16, poetry became another avenue for his snapshots of life.
I did not find any mention of his cricket interest. His other interests were cornet playing with the Lower Hutt Municipal Band, and he was a noted public speaker. There are, however, references to a “Kaye” playing Junior grade cricket in the Hutt 1930-32 in Papers Past searches at the National Library of New Zealand. It is inconclusive that this is George Kaye himself.
Besides his obvious love of the outdoors and tramping, Kaye’s Boots and Pack contains the rhyming cricket poem I found that I’ll reproduce here. It’s a well-worn theme, the metaphor of cricket and life, but the poem has a good ending: ‘Though if we’ve scored but poorly, / Does it really matter? / For in the end, the bowler, / Always beats the batter.’



For every one that’s in,
There’s always one that’s out;
Life’s a game of cricket,
Or something thereabout.

And standing at the wicket,
We watch every ball;
Some we miss and some we hit,
If we try to play them all.

We may not last an over,
We may not even bat;
Though some play on for ages,
At least it seems like that.

And when they face the bowler,
There’s very little doubt,
They’ll last a long, long innings;
But in the end they’re out.

And when the score is added up,
Of every run that’s made,
There may be satisfaction
In the way the game was played.

Though if we’ve scored but poorly,
Does it really matter?
For in the end, the bowler,
Always beats the batter.

Poem © George Kaye 1974

(From Boots and Pack by George Kaye, self-published 1974)

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mathew Sinclair retirement ode

This year saw the retirement of New Zealand and Central Districts batsman Mathew Sinclair.
He was a favourite player of mine who I was sad to see become an under-achiever at international level. Many good first class players have gone that way, but he could always plunder runs at first class level.
I can recall others like Sanjay Manjrekar for India, Allan Lamb, Mark Ramprakash and Graeme Hick for England or a number of West Indians like Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Sinclair was a New Zealand equivalent of these players, so he is in good company you could say.
Sinclair scored two double Test hundreds for New Zealand averaging 32.05 (on par with Graeme Hick’s 31.32 Test average for England; Hick’s first class average was way better than Sinclair’s of course at 56.78 with High Score of 405 not out but it is still an interesting comparison).
In Sinclair’s first ever first class innings for Central Districts he was bowled for a golden duck v Canterbury, 1995/1996 season.
Sinclair also took a famous one-handed diving catch in a one-dayer at the Melbourne, Telstra Dome, close to the boundary, 2004/2005 season, to dismiss Australia’s Matthew Hayden.
I’d like to mark Skippy’s retirement, as I did for Chris Martin this year, with a short ode:


Ode to “Skippy” Sinclair
(Mathew Sinclair)

“Skippy” made the grade: at best at
first class play. With his bat, “Howzat!”,
He scored a double on Test debut.
His first innings tho’ was when he threw
away his wicket for nought.
But mostly he wasn’t bought
by bowlers. In first class play
he went his own stolid way.
He endures like a Kiwi Hick,
few could match when in good nick.
Remember his catch, diving full length,
A one-handed beauty. He had strength
on the pull, swatting through mid-wicket;
Standing tall, he could rattle any picket.

Poem © Mark Pirie 2013

Mathew Sinclair (1999/2000-2009/2010): 1635 Test runs at 32.05. High Score 214 v West Indies, 1999/2000 season. 3 Test hundreds.
13717 first class runs at 48.64. High Score 268 for New Zealand A v South Africa A at Sedgars Park, Potchefstroom, 2004/2005 season. 36 hundreds.
ODI runs: 1304 runs at 28.34. High Score 118 not out v Sri Lanka, Sharjah, 2000/2001 season. 2 ODI hundreds.

Anonymous 1919 NZ cricket poem

The following humorous soliloquy based on Shakespeare’s play Hamlet was sent in to me by an Australian researcher who came across it whilst reading Papers Past at the National Library of New Zealand.
It was first published in the New Zealand Free Lance and appears to be a New Zealand cricket poem. The editor of the column published it with the following note: “The following item after William Shakespeare has not been hitherto published, but it is worth a place in my columns:--”
Cricket poems after Shakespeare are popular in cricket poetry. A Tingling Catch includes Don Neely’s ‘To walk or not to walk: that is the question;’ also after Hamlet. Don’s poem was written as an introduction to his cricket column in New Zealand Cricketer, 14 December 1970, on whether a batsman should stay or walk after appearing to have nicked a caught behind chance.
This poem is about a leg-before decision. I’ll include the anonymous writer’s poem here for your enjoyment.


Out Or Not Out

(Showing Hamlet’s latest soliloquy on being given out leg-before when
playing for Denmark against an eleven from the adjacent States)

Hamlet – Am I out, Horatius?
Horatius (batting at the other end) – I fear so, sire; methinks I heard
the man say “Chuck her up.”
Hamlet (retiring): Then must I go.
Yet ’tis a monstrous thing
That all this great and momentous issue
Should hang upon a churlish umpire’s nod.
How now, my lords? The ball had bias on it,
And, if my leg had been in front, as ’twas not,
’Twould ne’er have hit the sticks – no, not by yards.
It did not pitch straight – it was rising high –
Besides the man is bowling round the wicket;
Yes: I can summon up a million reasons
Which, on being pondered on, conspire to show
The verdict of yon purblind idiot false.
Well, well:
The thing’s an allegory,
How accident doth wait on carefulness
And all precautions used. I took one leg;
I wisely questioned if my toes were clear.
And all for this. Oh, sirs, the pity of it!
I was firmly set
As any oak tree in the sylvan glade;
I saw the bowling well; the ball appeared
To me as large as the full harvest moon
Sailing above the strawstack. I had meant
To score a hundred when that echoing yell,
Both from the bowler and the wicket-keeper,
The pre-arranged duet of knavery,
Checked me in mid-success and cut me down.
What weak-kneed umpire could resist that roar?
There’s not a doubt on’t. I was bustled out.
Give me a pipe; I’ll drown my grief in smoke.
This cricket is a passing beastly game.

(From New Zealand Free Lance, Thursday 20 February 1919, page 21)

The Short Stay Anthology of Shorter Cricket Rhymes

Here’s a bit of fun.
A fellow known only as “Short Stay” has started sending me in very short cricket rhymes.
I like the idea of a pseudonym for cricket rhymes, a well-known tradition in cricket poetry of olden times.
Here’s the start to his expected anthology:

From The Short Stay anthology of Shorter Cricket Rhymes


NZ v England, at Lord’s, 21 May 2013


A Short Stay




You blind?


Poems © The Short Stay anthology of Shorter Cricket Rhymes 2013