A poet’s lament: letter from Adelaide

SJA member David Fine, official Tour poet with the Barmy Army in Australia, has filed his latest poem from Adelaide following yesterday’s extraordinary turnaround.

Adelaide Day Five – Hubris
Natural Break

sooner or later over five days
nature calls outside intervals
you leave the arena all a rush
hasten necessities
praying for quiet.

A roar, is it four
or a wicket fall
in midstream?

the hiatus afterwards tells all
a measure of time elapsed
for the next bat to take guard
or bowler to return to his mark

if only a force of nature
why is it never what you want?

A View From The Bridge

All is fine.
No reefs, hidden sounds, rip-tides, storms, fogs
or unanticipated conditions,
the sea a milkpond mirror,
the final day an easy cruise ahead.

Too easy. Captain and crew conspire
to foul propellors, drift off-course,
lose way, take incorrect bearings
till the SS Five Day Draw
listing badly,
holed below the waterline,
leaks pouring in, pumps unable to cope,
doomed for the depths.

Aussie destroyers race from their stations,
each lacing boundary a torpedo
to dispatch the hulk to the bottom
with all due speed and efficiency,
leaving survivors to fend for themselves.


Captain Cook, W G Grace, Wilfred Rhodes, Hobbs and Sutcliffe, Percy Chapman, Wally Hammond, Douglas Jardine, Harold Larwood, Hedley Verity, Alec Bedser, Godfrey Evans, Sir Len Hutton, Jim Laker, Fred Truman, Ken Barrington, Ray Illingworth, John Snow, Derek Randall, Mike Brearley, Ian Botham, Bob Willis, Mike Atherton, Phil Tufnell and Dickie Bird, Your boys took one hell of a beating.

England Expects Every Man To Do Their Duty

The ground should be empty, dead,
Everyone gone, the last hour not taken;
England have batted out their draw.

The only Aussies remaining,
Paid to stay behind, clear up the mess,
The rubbish, plastic beakers and pie-wrappers,
Dross. They do a good professional job for little reward.

Two teams already gone, ready to go on to Perth,
Adelaide rush hour stuffed with traffic going home
To comment and criticism restricted to the pitch.

The ground is full, the CBD deserted,
England’s collapse mimics Jessop’s prowess
To empty offices. As wickets tumble

To false shots that’d earn official rebuke
in the workplace, Aussie workers scent blood.
Precious little work done this afternoon,

Collars and ties outweigh t-shirts and shorts
as gleeful witness the inevitable loss
four wickets delay. Englanders are so angry

no sorrow and little respect remains
for players who failed to play professionally.
They need to stay behind, clear up the mess
they created in each of our hearts and their own