March 7, 2009

England cricket

I say major, those Cowdrey poems are good

Nishi Narayanan


Colin Cowdrey - a cricketing gentleman © Getty Images
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Politics can be tiresome business. Dealing with the first Iraq war, a weak pound, a strong United States – minus the USSR – could drive the best of us to check in to the closest spa at the end of each day. But during his stint at 10 Downing Street former England prime minister John Major calmed his nerves by writing poetry. And now one of those poems, on England batsman Colin Cowdrey, is going under the hammer. A total of 307 – Cowdrey’s highest score - signed copies of Lord Colin Cowdrey - A Cricketing Gentleman will be sold for charity.

Major, who loves the game and was the former president of the Surrey County Cricket Club, said he had jotted down poems throughout his seven-year stint at Downing Street. "They were about cricket subjects and about politics and about characters,” Major was quoted as saying in the Telegraph. “With some of my political poems it is probably best they are never seen in public! But in the case of Colin I am pleased to share it. We were very close friends and used to get together for whiskies almost on a weekly basis." A total of 307 copies are being auctioned because the figure was Cowdrey’s highest total. The poem is reproduced below:

The mellow sound of bat on ball
The wherewithal to enthral
On feather bed or fiery track
Talent far above the pack
All on display at a glance
As Colin Cowdrey took his stance.
His style was gentle, full of grace
Delicate as Flemish lace
When a troubling ball came down
Fair caressed it all around
Some were hit, a few let pass
In Cowdrey's cricketing master-class.
With speed or spin, sharp eyes could see
The blade of grass where the ball would be
And to follow - swift and sure
A stroke to excite the connoisseur
Such memories still linger on
So long after the day has gone.
Firm wrists to coax the ball away
To all parts of close of play
A push for one, sometimes a pair
Three for a cut to backward of square
And - hear the full-throated roar -
A dazzling cover drive for four.
Now, he out; no more shall we see
That brand of Cowdrey Mastery
A style so easy, so unhurried
So very English, so unflurried
The master with a Corinthian touch
To Whom victory matter - but not that much.

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Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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