Almanac Poetry: ‘Cricket at Worcester: 1938’ – John Arlott

 

 

 

 

Cricket at Worcester: 1938

 

Dozing in deckchair’s gentle curve,
Through half-closed eyes I watched the cricket,
Knowing the sporting press would say
‘Perks bowled well on a perfect wicket.’

 

Fierce midday sun upon the ground;
Through heat haze came the hollow sound
Of wary bat on ball, to pound
The devil out of it, quell its bound.

 

Sunburned fieldsmen, flannelled cream,
Seemed though urgent, scarce alive,
Swooped, like swallows of a dream,
On skimming fly, the hard-hit drive.

 

Beyond the score-box, through the trees
Gleamed Severn, blue and wide,
Where oarsmen ‘feathered’ with polished ease
And passed in gentle glide.

 

The back-cloth, setting off the setting,
Peter’s cathedral soared,
Rich of shade and fine of fretting
Like cut and painted board.

 

To the cathedral, close for shelter
Huddled houses, bent and slim,
Some tall, some short, all helter-skelter,
Like a sky-line drawn for Grimm.

 

This the fanciful engraver might
In his creative dream have seen,
Here, framed by summer’s glaring light,
Grey stone, majestic over green.

 

Closer, the bowler’s arm swept down,
The ball swung, swerved and darted,
Stump and bail flashed and flew;
The batsman pensively departed.

 

Like rattle of dry seeds in pods
The warm crowd faintly clapped,
The boys who came to watch their gods,
The tired old men who napped.

 

The members sat in their strong deck chairs
And sometimes glanced at the play,
They smoked, and talked of stocks and shares,
And the bar stayed open all day.

 

John Arlott

 

 

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Comments

  1. Lee Harradine says

    One of the first pieces of commentary that I’ve always remembered was from John Arlott. I was perhaps only about 10 years old. I can’t remember the players’ names, but will always remember the words, in that wonderful Arlott accent as he described a shot on the Adelaide Oval.

    “And Simpson plays a lovely, powerful cover drive towards the beautiful cathedral.

    It doesn’t go that far, it’s fielded by Graveney and they get a single.”

  2. Colin Ritchie says

    Grew up listening to John Arlott broadcasting the cricket. His words drew so many pictures, and that voice!

  3. Kevin Densley says

    Lovely, unassuming poem about an idyllic English scene.

  4. He was the greatest. Have always loved this poem

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