Sunday, 6 May 2007

Sunday Cricket

The English Game

Close your eyes – picture the scene
The pub, the church, the village green,
Flannelled figures round the wicket,
This is England, this is cricket.
Even non – cricketers confess
Its quintessential Englishness.
It is, for those in any doubt,
What two world wars were all about;
Peace on earth and God in Heaven-
Tea time, 156 for 7

This is the first verse of "The English Game" by Arthur Salway. I think he expresses very well how much cricket is the essence of what is or was village life.

Perhaps this poem by Sir Henry Newbolt is the most famous poem inspired by the great game:

Vitaï Lampada

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night
Ten to make and the match to win
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

The sand of the desert is sodden red,
Red with the wreck of a square that broke;
The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of schoolboy rallies the ranks,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

This is the word that year by year
While in her place the School is set
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind --
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

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