Saturday, December 24, 2011

Vaughan Rapatahana’s NZ cricket poem

Recently I had a poem published in Enamel 3, a Wellington literary journal edited and produced by local poet Emma Barnes. This particular issue is the last of a short-lived but well-admired journal, and inside there was also a cricket-related poem by New Zealand poet Vaughan Rapatahana.
I asked Vaughan if I could include it on the Tingling Catch archive, and here it now is. Vaughan’s poem is not so much about cricket but has cricket forming the backdrop to a teenage experience and discovery of first love. It would very much fit into the ‘Social Members’ section of A Tingling Catch:


14 in ‘68

I   came   into   love

b   e   y   o   n   d

our white-picket fence,
those     diffident daffodils,
plastic raincoats’
close cling
spring squall.

b   a   c   k                    then
Bartlett bowled so speeeeeeeedy
it seamed
s     l       o     w        m     o     t     i     o     n
Subramanya slumped forward - vanquished
well-after his wicket was.

the Sun
obfuscated itself
behind surly cloud
all Aotearoa
in ignorant innocence.

your paua-shell eyes
shot me
as I lurked my way home
from college.

14 in ’68,

something                     b    e    y    o    n    d
schoolboy crush
crashed me
into the asperity

New Zealand
never seemed


Poem © Vaughan Rapatahana 2011

(From Enamel 3, 2011)

Vaughan Rapatahana is a Hong Kong-based New Zealand poet. He has recently published a collection of his poetry through Proverse Publishing and a second collection through Kilmog Press in Dunedin. Of his own cricket recollections of 1968, Vaughan writes: “I remember my mother ‘taking’ me out of school in 1968 (Aorere College, Papatoetoe, Manukau, Auckland, where [poet] David Eggleton was my classmate and mate per se, and Gary Troup was in same form) to see Dick Motz and Gary Bartlett bowling - Graham Dowling was there too as I recall. & Victor Pollard. Nawab of Pataudi was Captain. EAS Prasanna, Venkataraman Subramanya, Chandrakant Borde & Bishan Bedi were among those who played for India. Bartlett ran in from the boundary.”

(Note: The match mentioned is NZ v India, Test Match, 7-12 March 1968, Eden Park, Auckland. India won by 272 runs. Source: Cricket Archive.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bill O’Reilly’s 1946 NZ cricket poem

Recently I was doing key word searches on “cricket” and “poetry” in the National Library of New Zealand catalogue for a bibliography of New Zealand cricket fiction and poetry that I posted on this blog and have since published in a new edition of Michael O’Leary’s cricket novel Out of It (2012). Interestingly, I picked up a cricket reference in a book of “sporting rhymes” by worker poet Bill O’Reilly (1898-1959).
In 2010, Bill’s daughter, Pauline O’Reilly Leverton, published a wonderful biography of O’Reilly, Commo Bill: ‘People’s Poet’, that includes a large number of his poems as well as his life story in words and pictures.
O’Reilly was a committed member of the Communist Party of New Zealand that he joined in 1929. Best remembered for his work during the Great Depression when he was a leader of unemployed workers, O’Reilly was also involved in the Waterfront Lockout of ’51 when he championed his fellow waterside workers and stood loyal through tough times. By 1955, O’Reilly’s popularity with workers and their interests voted him in as Mayor of Thorndon, “the first Communist Mayor in New Zealand” (Bill's words); he also did charity work for blind children under the auspices of the popular "Mayor of Thorndon Blind Children's Appeal".
As a poet, he wrote dozens of verses, mainly Acrostics, and was interested in a wide variety of sports, including football, league, rugby, cricket, boxing, wrestling, racing and trotting. He also wrote pub poems and poems about places, verses for his family and friends, and wrote in response to political ideologues he disagreed with from his Marxist viewpoint. The pamphlet Sporting Rhymes (printed when he was a Thorndon Mayoral candidate to help raise funds for the blind children's appeal) includes one cricket poem.
The poem by O’Reilly, ‘King Cricket’, is of particular interest as it welcomes the Australian team to New Zealand in the 1945-46 season for their one-off Test played at the Basin Reserve, Wellington, on 29-30 March 1946.
This was a significant visit because it was the last time New Zealand would meet Australia in a Test match for some time. Walter Hadlee’s New Zealand team was humiliated inside two days of the 4-day match (all out for 42 and 54), despite Jack Cowie picking up his best Test figures for New Zealand of 6-40 in the Australian innings of 199-8 declared. In the future Australia would send a B-team and played only unofficial tests here until the early 1970s.
The 1946 Australian team was strong and included Keith Miller, the great all-rounder, and bowler Ray Lindwall who were making their Test debuts. Bill Brown, the opening batsman, captained it and the vice-captain was bowler Bill O’Reilly, the exact namesake of the poet.
O’Reilly’s poem is heartfelt and generous and indicates a time when friendship and camaraderie were at a high particularly following the end of the Second World War where Australians and New Zealanders fought side by side as ANZACs.
Here is O’Reilly’s poem for the Australian team:


King Cricket


(Written in welcome to the Australian Cricketers
     Capt. Brown, V-Capt. O’Reilly.)

Kindred from across the Tasman, wielders of the willow blade,
It’s a joy to give you greeting may your glories never fade.
Northwards far the wide-flung coastline of the land that you hold dear
Grieve not tho’ my bold Australians still you’ll find your boundaries here.

Captain, Vice, Official Teams men we salute you one and all
Recognising in your person artists of both bat and ball.
In the pre-war days who gave us after little rest
Cos we sat around the wireless listening to the flaming test.
Kindred from across the Tasman, home of Dave and home of Dad.
Every sport in God’s Own Country will be feeling mighty glad
That despite your great achievements you would still pay us a call
 Just to show our lads some pointers with the bat and with the ball.

Poem © Bill O’Reilly, 1955

(From Sporting Rhymes, The Standard Press, Wellington, 1955, courtesy of The Hocken Library, Dunedin)

Article © Mark Pirie 2011

(Sources: Commo Bill: ‘People’s Poet’: A Biography of William Daniel O’Reilly 1898-1959 by Pauline O’Reilly Leverton (Wellington: One Off Press, 2010); Sporting Rhymes: racing, trotting, boxing, football, cricket and other verses by Bill O’Reilly (Wellington: Standard Press, 1955); and Cricket Archive)

Sporting Rhymes and Other Verses by Bill O'Reilly
(Wellington: Standard Press, 1955)

Tingling Catch congratulates the Black Caps

Congratulations to the Black Caps for their determined victory over Australia in the Second Test in Hobart.
It was exciting to watch and heart stopping as Doug Bracewell grabbed the last wicket for victory.
Well done to the team, have a good Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Nelson cricketers’ victorious return and poem, 1876

This week I did a poetry reading down in Nelson (with Laura Solomon) at the Yurt (a Mongolian hut) in the front yard of the Freehouse pub. It was a fun meeting and good to see some local Nelson poets there, including Cliff Fell who shares a cricket interest with me.
As well as reading my own poems, I did a small presentation on A Tingling Catch and shared an excerpt about the return of the Nelson Interprovincial cricketers after victory over Wellington in the Marlborough Express, 29 March 1876 (found by book collector Rowan Gibbs).
Rowan came across it while reading through the National Library’s digital archive of old New Zealand newspapers, Papers Past, and emailed it to me.
I looked up the match in New Zealand Cricket’s online Archive of First Class fixtures. All the player names in the report are correct, including the unfortunately named "Greenfield". The game at the Basin Reserve on 19 March 1876 was won outright by Nelson in a low-scoring affair, typical of that time when bowlers dominated the bat on wet pitches. Nelson bowler Eden took 9-43 and 5-20 to finish with 14-63 in the match. H R Parrington, for Wellington, top scored for the whole match with 26 in their Second Innings.
I’ll share the humorous newspaper report with you here:

NELSON CRICKETERS – “Autolycus” in the Nelson Times has the following anent the return of the Nelson cricketers the other day: — I was aroused from slumber yesterday by the soul-inspiring air of “See the Conquering,” and from my bedroom window by turning back the corner of the blind, I observed our cricketers returned from their victorious tour through the Provinces. As success always proves merit, I was not surprised an hour afterwards to hear Brown declaring that “It was decidedly the best team that had been sent to Wellington,” and I agreed with him, and added in reference to the latter part of his assertion, “Why for fear they should not be able to find a suitable piece of ground, the precautionary measure was adopted of sending a Greenfield with them.” Brown pretended not to see the pun, but I know he noticed it, for on the spur of the moment a desire for revenge filled his soul, and he took a manuscript from his pocket and with the preliminary remark that he would read a little composition hurriedly written for the occasion, he started off at a score as follows:

Sound the loud bugle and hammer the drum,
Pour out the libation (mine’s good strong old rum),
And whoever he is, may the man ne-er grow fat,
Who refuses to welcome the Knights of the Bat.

So fill up the goblet, I’ll shout till I’m hoarse,
For Sellon, and Eden, for H. and C. Cross,
For Halliday, Fowler, Greenfield, and the Knapps.
Let the glasses be brimming; allow no heeltaps.

   NOTE —
I tried to work Coles in, but found ’twas no use,
So his health for a fresh glass shall be the excuse;
And the Wellington men, foemen worthy the steel, —

Here the manuscript compelled Brown to turn to the next leaf, and I took the opportunity to turn the corner. I have not seen him since, but if any of my readers really wish to hear the remainder of the verses, I know his address, and he will be only too happy to obtain a victim.

(From the Marlborough Express, 29 March 1876)

I am unable to track down who the versifier is by the name of “Brown”. Nothing for a “Brown” comes up in a search of 19th century poetry books in the National Library of New Zealand catalogue. He doesn’t seem to be a Nelson cricketer either, perhaps a local bard at the time or maybe he’s been made up by “Autolycus” the satirist behind this report.

Here is some further information I tracked down on Autolycus, with thanks to Rowan Gibbs for his research help and the National Library of New Zealand's Papers Past digital archive:

Autolycus” appears as a common name in New Zealand newspapers from the 1870s to early 1900s including the Nelson Daily Times, the Marlborough Express, The Colonist (Nelson) and the Nelson Evening Mail and other New Zealand newspapers like The Waikato Advocate’s literary section in searches for the name in Papers Past.
Most often “Autolycus” has been used for the purpose of reviewing books, writing letters to the editor, writing short humorous columns on political and social events and penning satirical verses here and there.
However, the “Autolycus” of this cricket piece is almost certainly H. (Harry) M. Moore (or Moor), born 1840. An obituary appeared in the Grey River Argus stating he was an esteemed journalist, “a native of New South Wales”, who in earlier days worked with the miners on the West Coast of New Zealand “and took a leading part in the matters affecting the welfare of the [mining] community” (Grey River Argus, 21 January 1879). Here is another obituary for him from the Auckland Star:

The late H. M. Moore, editor of the Christchurch Globe, whose death was chronicled in our telegrams last evening, was a very old and experienced journalist. He was employed on the staff of the Otago Daily Times during the time that paper was edited by Mr, now Sir Julius Vogel, and at a later period was connected with several journals on the West Coast [Grey River Argus, Grey River Times and Evening Star]. He edited the Nelson Daily Times for some time, and made his mark as the author of a well-written weekly sketch with the signature of “Autolycus”. From Nelson he succeeded Mr E. T. Gillon, as manager and editor of the New Zealander, but at the close of last session was appointed to the editorial chair of the Christchurch Globe. Mr Moore was an extremely clever and industrious labourer in the field of journalism, and was generally esteemed on account of his genial and social qualities, and his dry caustic humour. Mr Moore leaves a widow and three children. His death makes another blank in the fast thinning ranks of the oldest journalists of New Zealand.

(Auckland Star, Volume X, Issue 2729, 21 January 1879, Page 2)

I gather that “Autolycus” did pen satirical verses (as a letter was published in The Colonist, 24 July 1877, in response to his verses, “Rhymes from Riwaka”, published in the Nelson Daily Times) and as I’m unable to confirm any poet by the name of “Brown”, it’s possible “Autolycus” may have written the verses as well as part of his sketch. Moore died from rheumatic fever when he was nearly 40.

Article © Mark Pirie 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rugby bard Ernest L. Eyre’s NZ cricket poem

Over the past few days, I’ve been doing further research on forgotten bard Ernest L. Eyre’s poetry after I recently made a list of New Zealand poets from 1915-1930, a period I have not looked into in much detail previously. It’s an interesting period after and during the First World War and up to the Great Depression.
One poet who has emerged as significant from this period is Ernest L. Eyre. Eyre (December 1885-1968), a poet, rugby player and official for the North Shore Rugby Club was born in Dunedin and lived in Devonport, Auckland much of his life and was a wandering bard who at one stage pedalled a push bike across rugged terrain to sell his wares in small townships. Niel Wright has written about him in the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa’s newsletter, Poetry Notes (Spring 2011).
He wrote popular verse since age 14 and started publishing his work in book form at the age of 20. He was widely published in newspapers in New Zealand (Auckland Star) and Australia (The Bulletin) and by 1940 he said he’d sold around 30,000 copies of his books and pamphlets across New Zealand.
These stats and his habit of wandering make him a precursor to the modern day great Sam Hunt who similarly travels across New Zealand and has been officially recognised by the Queen for his services to poetry. Like Hunt, Eyre was a professional poet and made his living from poetry. Eyre’s feat is plainly remarkable given the difficulty of getting poems printed back then and of travelling, yet in contrast Eyre has received no formal recognition.
This year, Tony King succeeded in reprinting a pamphlet of Eyre’s rugby poems from his book Camp-fire Rhymes (1923) called Versus: New Zealand rugby in verse 1909. It’s a beautifully printed collection published to coincide with the IRB Rugby World Cup 2011.
There’s no doubt Eyre was our first prominent rugby poet, whose knowledge of rugby as a player has gleaned some of the best poems written on the subject in this country. He also played hockey, golf and lawn bowls and wrote on a variety of sports, including steeplechasing, athletics, tennis, cricket and rowing. Strangely, his work has fallen off the radar. Eyre appears in no major anthology of New Zealand’s poetry.
In Eyre’s 1938 collection of poems and prose, The Wreck on Opotiki Beach, (copy found by Dr Michael O’Leary for the Poetry Archive of New Zealand Aotearoa), there is one cricket poem and a quatrain on cricket in the poem ‘Christmas Time: By Bush and Beach’:

     Then on the cricket fields – in summer heat –
            The cricketers are seen, a healthy band
     Of vigorous youths, who bowl their “overs” neat,
            Or smash a glorious “sixer” o’er the stand!

Eyre’s cricket poem, ‘A Plunket Baby’, was ‘written for The Weekly News’ in Auckland, published from 1934 to 1964, so the poem was published in the 1930s.
Cricket was not such a great love for Eyre as rugby but his poem is worth sharing as it makes a comic connection from an American visitor’s remark between the Plunket Shield and Plunket babies. While I’m sure our anti-smacking laws may make the poem’s humorous ending somewhat incorrect now, it can nevertheless be enjoyed for the period in which it was written.
The names mentioned ‘Gilbert Jessop, Trott or Bonner’ appear to be English or Australian players from the late 1890s to early 1900s. Gilbert Jessop played for England and was an all-rounder (Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1898); Albert Trott played several Tests for England and Australia (Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1899). Trott and Jessop were probably big names when Eyre was following cricket as a boy. I’m not sure who Bonner is, but there was a batsman John Bonner playing for Essex in this period (1896-98). It's probably the Australian slogger George Bonnor misspelt.
These player dates clearly suggest Eyre’s poem was written much earlier. The Plunket Shield began in New Zealand from 1906/07 when Canterbury defeated Auckland, so it’s possible Eyre’s poem dates from 20 or more years before its Weekly News publication when Eyre was still a young man. It suggests the poem by Eyre could’ve been republished from an earlier publication (The Weekly News was known prior to 1934 as The Auckland Weekly News (1877-1934)) or Eyre could’ve withheld its publication for some years. However, cricket players can become forgotten so it’s more likely Eyre may have published it in an earlier edition of The Auckland Weekly News.


A Plunket Baby

(“These Plunket babies know their cricket, I guess. They’re nearly as good as our baseball stars. They’re grand!” An American’s comment in the pavilion during a Plunket Shield match.)

When he batted in the Plunket we knew he wouldn’t funk it;
He’s a baby, maybe, plainly oversize.
When deliveries were bouncing they, not he received the trouncing
As in style, not bib-ulous, he made them rise!

He drove them fast and willing, then he nursed them, with some frilling,
Or perambulated them on either hand.
He’s not spoon fed, on my honour. Gilbert Jessop, Trott or Bonner
Never smacked up better sixes to the stand:
For it’s smacking makes a Plunket baby grand!

Poem © Ernest L. Eyre

(Sources: Cricket Archive; Camp-fire Rhymes by Ernest L. Eyre (Auckland: Leightons Ltd printers, 1923); Versus: New Zealand Rugby in Verse 1909 by Ernest L. Eyre (Greytown: Cobblestones Early Settlers’ Museum, 2011) and The Wreck on Opotiki Beach by Ernest L. Eyre (Devonport: North Shore Gazette Ltd, 1938).

Article © Mark Pirie, 2011

Versus: New Zealand rugby in verse 1909
by Ernest L. Eyre
(Greytown: Cobblestones Early Settlers Museum, 2011)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gary Langford’s NZ cricket poems

I first came a cross Gary Langford’s name in the Arthur Baysting anthology, The Young New Zealand Poets (1973). He was one of the emerging young poets of the ’70s in New Zealand. He later moved from Christchurch to Australia working as an academic in writing programes at the University of Western Sydney. I kept track of his Australian-published work through the volumes I found in the Wellington City Library.
Recently, I’ve been re-reading his work. We have a number of his books in the Poetry Archive in Wellington, including his beautifully-produced first collection The Family. The Family (which includes old photos) as its title suggests looks at family members and includes mention of his grandfather, who was a cricketer in the poem ‘The Silver Brooch’:

A small house, stoking the furnace
on mornings when the room creaked
with frost, white lashes over
The macrocarpa hedge. Voices fluttered
In her skull, cold, sniffing.
He was apart, forgiven. She nagged,
he drank, she cooked stews and
dumplings, he became a life member
of the Working Men’s Club.
Pedalling home on their tenth
anniversary, he gave her a silver
brooch with MOTHER cut
into it in gold.
During the summer he’d sit under
the apple tree eating fish and chips
and thinking cricket scores,
the days when he played
for the province, then stumble
inside and collapse in bed,
dribbling on the pillow.
She slept badly, things got her down,
growing fat like a dumpling
as she fussed and clucked and cooked
and knitted. His heart gave up
clogged by whisky, not knowing
how to open the windows and cry for help.
No-one knew what she really thought,
dust to ash, ash to dust, Pop became
a good husband.

  Always bringing me
  something home--did
  you know he gave me
  this brooch?

Clever with his hands--
he made all the furniture--and
good at sport--he
played for the province.

In a later book of Gary's poetry, Jesus the Galilee Hitchhiker, there is an update on this poem relating to the death of his grandmother:

Grandmother's Funeral Service

She outlived most of her children, or did she,
guardian of the first door,
as though this in itself was an adventure?
Each generation locked dentures,
marching side by side without a dream,
love becoming an empty section,
houses like people falling down,
too spare to escort the vacuum to another room.
She received a telegram from the Queen,
scorer of a maiden test century,
calling out in the night
which blew and grew underneath her eyelids,
given out by the Umpire of death,
old lady before wicket,
ordered to the far away pavilion,
exactly a run to the day
he tried to order me out,
head hit by wicket,
it's so poor when people argue,
I'll be back, I always win,
no matter how many times you slip through my fingers.
She was clutching a silver brooch
with MOTHER cut into it in gold,
calling for a man given out years ago,
he was offered a drink, that was enough,
the finger went up, he went down,
glass in hand, drunk before wicket.
She was never a drinker, took longer to sink her.
When she walked she walked hand in hand,
thinking of a younger man, a forgotten name,
and she was a young woman,
held in the loving arms of long ago.

This year, Steele Roberts published a substantial new book of Langford’s called Rainwoman & Snake. Langford is no longer an academic and is currently what he terms a ‘pure’ writer living between Melbourne and Christchurch. He is also a New Zealand co-ordinator for the Poetry Archive sound recordings project in England. In the second part of his new book, Snake, is a cricket poem.
Snake works around the theme of snakes in our lives and Langford gives a colourful and humourous vision as to how he thinks the snake appears in various sports, including football, cricket and swimming:

Sporting snakes are renowned for cheating.
They seduce umpires and referees with style.
We play for the sheer money of the game.

In his cricket poem, the snake appears on the field in various guises as both ‘stump’ and ‘bat’, snakes, as Langford alludes, appear everywhere:



Bones are struck in the grin,
hanging on the umpire’s call,
out, pain before wicket.

There is no particular enjoyment of bruised joints.
Snakes dream of cracking us open,
sinewy stings under helmets and pads.

Balls change into a snake’s head,
aiming to hit us between the eyes.

Our defence is another snake,
wood carved into a hard shape.

These splinter when the snake yawns,
then hisses, lightning up your fingers.

We wonder why we play the game.
Snake is in our thoughts, licking long.

Stump = snake.
Each of us sighs
and waits to be in a kiss-hit.

When the time comes, you walk away,
back to the far pavilion,
unable to pick the final sting.

© Gary Langford 2011

Gary Langford’s new book, Rainwoman & Snake, is available from Steele Roberts Ltd, email or visit their ordering information page:

Article © Mark Pirie 2011

Post-script: Gary Langford writes: "Ginninderra Press, Adelaide, Australia, just did The Family Album this year too, which is my final sequence of my family poetry books: The Family (yes, Fragments Press did a beautiful job on that one), Four Ships and The Family Album which covers the period from those 2 books till now. Comic seriousness. Just as my novel Newlands was for my homeland, and why I wrote it. I have just written a sonnet called 'Percy's War' as I found my uncle's gravestone (he died when he came off a motorbike at 20, and is a chapter in Newlands) earlier this month. It was in a field and needed searching among the sheep who baa-ed at the idea of 'Percy's War' - not in our paddock, thank you. The Family Album is notable for using 3 of my paintings."

Thanks Gary, and for permission to reproduce the poems.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tingling Catch congratulates the All Blacks

I'd like to congratulate the All Blacks and coach Graham Henry on a hard-fought but well deserved Rugby World Cup 2011 victory over France, 8-7.
It was a great final, contested to the very end, with a superb display by the French forward pack who put up a brave fight but McCaw and the All Black forwards were equal to the task.
Here's a triolet I wrote for Richie McCaw and his team:


The Cup

McCaw lifts the Webb Ellis Cup,
   Tired joy is on their faces:
It’s a hard road to win the cup.

McCaw lifts the Webb Ellis Cup,
   Captain Fantastic holds the cup.
The pain of winning leaves no traces.

McCaw lifts the Webb Ellis Cup.
   Tired joy is on their faces.

Poem © Mark Pirie 2011

An earlier poem I wrote for All Black Piri Weepu, 'Scrum-feed', which was published in The Dominion Post, 20 October 2011, is now on my website too.

Bibliography of NZ cricket fiction and poetry

I've written previously on New Zealand cricket fiction and now I've finally started to compile a bibliographical list of New Zealand cricket fiction and poetry that I will publish in the new HeadworX edition of Michael O'Leary's cricket novel Out of It (due for publication in early 2012) that I'm currently editing.
This bibliographical list will be updated as more fiction pieces come to hand, i.e. individual short stories. There are a few of these stories archived on the Tingling Catch blog, including stories by Tim Jones, Eva Burfield and John Sellwood. I'd like to thank Rob Franks whose bibliography Kiwi Cricket Pages (c2006) provided me with the skeleton to work from (an acknowledgement to him below):

List of New Zealand cricket fiction and poetry by Mark Pirie [work in progress]

Adult fiction

W.J. Foote, Poetry in Motion: The Tragic Tale of the Pukemanu Prodigy,
  New Zealand’s Greatest 
Slow Bowler, 2003.
Michael O’Leary, Out of It, 1987, 2nd archival ed. 1999, 3rd ed. 2012.

Adult poetry and songs

Tim Finn and the Record Partnership, Runs in the family
  [sound recording], 1995.
Mark Pirie, Slips: cricket poems, 2008.
Mark Pirie ed. ‘A Tingling Catch’: A Century of New Zealand
  Cricket Poems 1864-2009, 2010 [anthology].
Mark Pirie, Tingling Catch [electronic resource], 2010-
Mark Pirie, J. H. E. Schroder’s New Zealand Cricket Poems:
  an essay and an appendix of poems, 2011.
Mark Pirie ed. King Willow: Selected Poems by Robert J Pope, 2012.
Jim Tocker, Songs of a Cricketer, 1983, 2nd ed. 1999.
Arnold Wall, A Time Will Come [New Zealand Cricket Council
  broadsheet, Christmas 1932].

Juvenile fiction and rhymed stories

Tom Bradley, Johnny Whitler and the Mad Cap Cricket Match,
Garry Carter, The Cricket Test, 1996.
Mervyn Elias, The Boy From New Zealand: The Story of a
  New Zealand Boy at an English Public School, 1940.
A. Greenhaigh, Kee-wee Plays Cricket, 1983.
David Hill, Seconds Best, 1996.
Midge Janssen, The Catch, 1995.
Hazel Kreyl ed., Cricket Bat Smash!, 2001 [anthology].
Di Michels, Playing Cricket, 1995.
Lino Nelusi, That’s the Way!, c1998, 2nd ed. 2003 [Niuean
  and Tokelauan language versions].
Dinah Priestley, That’s Not Cricket, 1994.
Alison Robertson, Knocked for Six, 2001.
Sharon Whillis, The Boxing Day Test, 2002.
Barbara White, Time for Cricket, 1991.

(Fiction information sourced from Rob Franks’s Kiwi Cricket Pages: A Bibliography and Reference Guide to New Zealand Cricket Publications, c2006, UK)

Bibliogaphy © Mark Pirie 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cecil W Pierce’s 1894 Australian cricket poem

A friend and book collector Rowan Gibbs recently sent me a photo of a poem he found inside a copy of the great Australian cricketer George Giffen’s book With Bat and Ball (1898).
Giffen (1859-1927) was once referred to as the “WG Grace of Australia” (Wisden Obituary) and his career span was 1877-1904. His exploits on the 1886 tour of England are best known, more so than the 1893 tour mentioned in this poem. As the poem states he continued to rack up huge scores at the time for South Australia despite not living up to expectations on the 1893 England tour. In 1894, near the time of this poem, he was ‘All-Round Cricketer of the Year’ in Wisden.
Rowan says: ‘This copy has pasted on the endpaper a clipping of a poem ‘To George Giffen’ (possibly from The [Sydney] Bulletin) signed “CECIL W PIERCE SOMERSET, The Snowy River, near Mt. Kosciusko, January 14, 1894”. However from a letter in The South Australian Register 1894 this seems to be an error for Cecil W Pierce, of Somerset, S.A.
I’ll share the poem with you here:


To George Giffen

So they jeered you, George, in Melbourne: no wonder that they seem
   So snarlish when they see you, and so sore.
What have you put together ’gainst the cabbage team?
   A dozen double hundreds or a score?

They’ve a tidy troop of trundlers, but when you’re on the job
   They don’t improve their figures very much;
Though they tackle you with “Hughie,” or try you with their “Bob,”
   You thump them like an uncle who is Dutch.

And then you belt their batsmen, till you’ve got them all abroad,
   (And that’s enough to cause a lasting feud).
If you snavel all their wickets, and score two hundred odd,
   How can you, George, expect their gratitude?

Then in the tour just over, the freedom of your “tip”
   Has pained some gentle spirits in the crew.
For every man’s a model, who has made the English trip,
   And needs a dirty halo – barring you!

And there are some around you, whom your long success offends;
   The vermin of their envy swells our gorge,
Whilst many a fairish player has got a knot of friends
   To put his powers by yours, my matchless George.

But let them bark behind you – ‘tis the trick of ev’ry cur,
   Yet when you meet the Melbourne team again,
You may make a cool five hundred, the barrack bile to stir,
   And may they face your dropping ball in vain.

Good luck, king George of cricket! Of your prowess we are proud
   And may you ever have at your right hand
Big Jack, the giant hitter, the joy of ev’ry crowd,
   Who lammed the lightning Lockwood to the stand.

And Adelaide, the handful shall possess the Sheffield shield,
   With big and braggart Melbourne fairly purled;
Whilst the white and tiny city can send into the field,
   The hitter and the champion of the world.

The Snowy River, near Mt Kosciusko
January 14, 1894

© Cecil W Pierce 1894

Extract from Cecil W Pierce's poem to George Giffen

Cricket Poetry Award 2011 announced

I just received the following media release about the Cricket Poetry Award 2011. Congratulations to the winner Cecilia White, her poem is included below:

Media Release Friday, 7 October 2010

Over one hundred entries were received from the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia for the Cricket Poetry Award competition in 2011.
The last four poems were selected and publicly read at the Cricket Art Prize opening event - Members Pavilion, Sydney Cricket Ground on October 6th.
The judges, Louise Wakeling and Amanda Shalala felt that a majority of the poems were of a very high standard and as such, they had a challenging time refining the collection down to twenty for the first public reading; then at the live readings night, the general public voted for the last four to be re-read at the Cricket Art Prize opening.
Louise and Amanda affirmed “…we chose our top twenty in terms of what worked for us as poetry; based on a skilled fusion of technical skills and conventions, including phonics, insights and emotion.”
‘Boxing Day Test’ by Cecilia White won the Cricket Poetry award for 2011.
Her poem powerfully describes the retrospective, compassionate thoughts and feelings we feel when watching a test match on television on a hot summers day…


Boxing Day Test

twelfth man leaves the field, we tumble back to our places
sitting cross-legged below a semi-circle of lanky shinned uncles.
men, exhausted by another year’s hard labour
and christmas day.

our skin sticks to itself on boxing day in new south wales.
the geography of each body is irrigated by sweat
it is impossible to imagine standing outside
for each over, and over again.
the cork and willow clap in the dry summer heat 
of another state.

our uncles lean into the room,
lean forward towards the box, as if they were next bat.
tensing muscles deep in bare redbrowned arms
they are in the memory position,
revisiting lives they dreamed as boys when
they could imagine up a roaring crowd
that would lift them high above the drudgery
of normal men.

© Cecilia White 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ronald Castle’s NZ cricket related poem

A poem I found recently with cricket in it is by the late New Zealand poet Ronald Castle (1907-1984), a local Wellington chemist, writer and musician, who created a pharmacy museum in the 1970s. He was an old boy of Wellington College.
Castle’s poem is an elegant evocation of school days at Wellington College, where ‘On summery days on the green, white-flannelled cricketers batted’. As an old boy of the school, I very much enjoyed Castle’s poem.
I’ll share the poem with you here:


Man in the Faded Blazer

Weary, kindly old gentleman ambling slowly the pavement,
   That black blazer you wear speaks of collegiate days;
Lamp that eternally burns, in orange embroidery gleaming,
   Still have you treasured from youth, braving the fugitive years.
Know that I, too, at the back of some drawer filled with odd trifles,
   Found my tattered old cap, fronted by orange lamp.

What are your memories, leaping the chasm of the relentless
   Onward-hastening days? Sit you again at the desk
Watching the black board where geometric angles and circles
   Drawn with chalk-scratching sound, kind ‘Garry’ Lomas defined?

Or under Welsh Mr. Jones gowned in immaculate neatness,
   Drilled with phonetic symbols, could we ‘assassinate’ spell?
Learnt we from sad Alexander the rich Ovidian sweetness
   Ere he, dying too soon, boarded Charonian barge?

And what shall be said of the Master declaiming passionate verses,
   Still ignoring his wound, late from the trenches returned?
Lover of beauty immortal, and England’s sonorous language,
   Fired he many a youth, taught him poetical craft.

Now unremembered be good Monsieur Balham, tutor,
   With Gallic accent pure, gesticulating hands,
Coaxing unlikely lads from that ‘plume de ma tante’, still missing,
   On to noble Racine, chansons of dark Baudelaire.

What nauseous fumes emitted the attic science research room!
   Bubbled the glass retorts, Bunsen burners up-flared,
Dangerous phosphorous retrieved from water exploded like fireworks;
   Through the microscope tube we viewed the structure of worlds.

Still stands the observatory dome on the hillock behind the college,
   Where Doctor Gifford grave, his counter-poised telescope swung,
Sweeping the heavens antipodean, to pupils revealing
   Stars in endless space, galactic Milky Ways?

On summery days on the green, white-flannelled cricketers batted,
   Or on the tennis courts with resonant racquets smote:
While in the blue-tiled baths naked forms were swimming,
   And from the music-room came brass and cymbals sound.

This we knew and revered, O man in the faded blazer
   Black with the orange badge bearing the deathless lamp
Over its Latin script, motto engraved in our bosoms,
   ‘LUMEN ACCIPE ET IMPERTI’, from age to age.

Poem © Ronald Castle, 1983

(From The Select Poetry of Ronald Castle, Wellington, 1983).

Publications by Ronald Castle:
Fleeting Music, Wright & Carman, 1937
Arcadian Grove, Wright & Carman, 1939
Psaltery and Trumpet, Chapbook Publications, 1948
Old Instruments in New Zealand: a short survey of the Zillah and Ronald Castle collection of early and unusual musical instruments, Z & R Castle, 1969
Verses for Music, R B Castle, 1981
The Select Poetry of Ronald Castle, Castle Publications, 1983

Further reading: A Reading of the Poetry of Ronald Brian Castle by F W Nielsen Wright, Cultural and Political Booklets, 2001