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Ballad of a Homeless Bat -- John Kendal

Guest poem submitted by Frank O'Shea, as part of
our cricket theme:
(Poem #947) Ballad of a Homeless Bat
 The man was going in to bat;
 The bowler, flushed with joy,
 Stood waiting to complete his hat; [1]
 There came a village boy

 "Put off your gloves of rubber proof,
 Unguard each careful shin.
 The curse has fallen on your roof;
 Your house has tumbled in."

 White as his boots the batsman grew;
 He cast his pads away;
 His gauntlets to the winds he threw.
 The Captain cried, "I say,

 Go in, poor homeless one, and bat,
 Stem as the nether rock;
 E'en though that house of yours be flat,
 You'd better have your knock."

 "My little home," the batsman wept,
 "So trim it was and tight;
 I always had it nicely swept;
 It had electric light.

 And is there left no tiny shred
 Of the whole bag of tricks?"
 The boy with urchin relish said
 Laconically, "Nix."

 "Let me go hence; nay, hold me not."
 Then loud the Captain cried,
 "You, you alone can stay the rot;
 Think, batsman, of the side.

 Your kindling eye, your stubborn heart
 Alone can make things good;
 You would not land us in the cart";
 The victim said, "I would."

 Then spake a man of subtler mould:
 "A year ago, no more,
 Yon bowler, haughty man and cold,
 Had you out leg-before. [2]

 Did you not seal a solemn oath
 To clump him for that crime
 O'er yon tall tree, or tent, or both?
 You did. Then now's the time."

 Up sprang the batsman with a frown,
 And like a man he spoke:
 "Let every house come crashing down,
 The pub dissolve in smoke;

 I will not guard each careful shin;
 Give me my bat, no more;
 With knuckles bared will I go in
 And larn him leg-before."

 He seized his trusty bat and went
 A broken soul was he,
 But he lammed the blighter o'er the tent,
 The bounder o'er the tree.
-- John Kendal
Cricket, good.

Here's a real beauty by John Kendal. I know little about him except that he
wrote for Punch under the name Dum-Dum and published 11 books of verse. The
book from which the following is taken has a date of 1947 and contains the
WITH THE AUTHORISED ECONOMY STANDARDS." The book also contains the following
author's note: "I have been reproached before now, as one kindly reviewer
put it, for not 'making a frank bid as a serious poet.' Why on earth should
I? Nothing would make me one - I know that - and, thank goodness, I have had
no leanings in that direction. And I remain impenitent."


Frank O'Shea.

PS. For our American cousins:

[1] hat trick: a wicket taken with each of three successive balls. Extremely
[2] leg-before: a common and often controversial (in the sense of being open
to much discussion) way of getting a batsman out.

PPS. [thomas adds:] Sheer bloodymindedness is, of course, as good a reason
to play cricket as any other.

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