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Verity -- Drummond Allison

Guest poem submitted by Aseem Kaul.
Who'd have thought the world would have so many cricket poems in it?
(Poem #952) Verity
 (In memory of Captain Hedley Verity, injured in Sicily, Taken POW, buried
at Caserta. Pre-war, Yorkshire and England slow left-arm bowler.)

 The ruth and truth you taught have come full-circle
 On that fell island all whose history lies,
 Far now from Bramhall Lane and far from Scarborough
 You recollect how foolish are the wise.

 On this great ground more marvellous than Lord's
 - Time takes more spin than nineteen thirty four -
 You face at last that vast that Bradman-shaming
 Batsman whose cuts obey no natural law.

 Run up again, as gravely smile as ever,
 Veer without fear your left unlucky arm
 In His so dark direction, but no length
 However lovely can disturb the harm
 That is His style, defer the winning drive
 Or shake the crowd from their uproarious calm.
-- Drummond Allison
 What I find wonderful about this poem is that it's perhaps the only poem
I've ever read which treats cricket as a sombre subject (witness the poems
run so far in this theme - all of which have an element of humour). The
starting, of course, is a bit weak, and the use of the sonnet form somewhat
unnecessary, but I truly love the last six lines, with their sense of heroic
determination - the sort of courage that makes a man give all he has against
an implacable foe and an unconcerned crowd. I know nothing of Verity (and am
not particularly fond of cricket) but reading this poem, I have no choice
but to admire him - as a cricketer and a human being.


[Verity Bio]

A wonderfully gifted left-arm spin bowler, Hedley Verity was born in the
shadow of Headingley in 1905 and died from his wounds in a prisoner-of-war
hospital camp in Caserta, Italy, during the Second World War at the age of
38. It was a tragic end to a life that had given so much to the world of

It seems strange to think that Verity was originally turned down by
Yorkshire at trials in 1926, but he was eventually given a chance by the
county in 1930 and, of course, became a fixture until the start of the war.
He was the natural successor to that other great Yorkshire left-arm spinner,
Wilfred Rhodes, whose career drew to a close in 1930 after an amazing 883
games for the county. Verity was never going to get close - Hitler saw to
that - but he did turn out for Yorkshire 278 times and in that time he
produced some remarkable bowling analyses.

In 1931 he took ten for 36 off 18.4 overs against Warwickshire at Leeds, but
incredibly he bettered these figures the following season by taking ten for
ten in 19.4 overs against Nottinghamshire, also at Headingley. They remain
the county's best bowling figures for an innings while Verity's 17 for 91
against Essex at Leyton in 1933 remain Yorkshire's best bowling in a match.
Verity claimed nine wickets in an innings seven times for Yorkshire. He took
100 wickets in a season nine times and took 200 wickets in three consecutive
seasons between 1935-37. He ended with 1,956 first-class wickets at an
average of 14.9, took five wickets in an innings 164 times and ten wickets
in a match 54 times. On 1 September, 1939, in the last first-class match
before war was declared, he took seven for nine at Hove against Sussex.

The year after he first appeared for Yorkshire, Verity made his England
debut against New Zealand at The Oval, finishing the game with four wickets.
After that summer he was ignored until 1932/33, the Bodyline Series, in
which he took 11 wickets, including Bradman twice. By the time his career
was over, Verity had dismissed Bradman ten times, a figure matched only by
Grimmett. As with his domestic career, Verity's international performances
threw up some astonishing bowling figures. He took eight for 43 and finished
with match figures of 15 for 104 against Australia at Lord's in 1934. His
stamina was demonstrated during the 1938-39 tour of South Africa when he
bowled 95.6 eight-ball overs in an innings at Durban, taking four for 184.
By the time war arrived, Verity had taken 144 wickets at 24.37.

During the war he was a captain in the Green Howards. He sustained his
wounds in the battle of Catania in Sicily and died on 31 July, 1943. His
grave is at Caserta Military Cemetery, some 16 miles from Naples. (Copyright
CricInfo 2001)


Ironically, Drummond Allison was also killed in action during WW2...

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