I did promise another glimpse into the lost world of the nineteen-seventies, as represented in the pages of The Cricketer, so here – true to my word – is a poem from the Spring Annual of April 1975.
The annual contains two poems – one, by the statistician Irving Rosenwater, is a response to the battering that England had taken over the Winter in Australia, and begins “Hammond! Thou shouldst be living at this hour” – the other is this, by one N.F. Bell (slightly unfortunate initials in the circumstances). I imagine the last line is meant to come as a surprise, which I suppose it does. Curiously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it anthologised.
He moved into the district just the other week.
His manner was quite friendly so companions he did seek.
He joined our local cricket club, met members one and all.
At practice he showed promise with the bat and with the ball.
Last night he made his debut with the first eleven side.
He must have been quite nervous; his first ball was a wide.
But after that, he settled down and gave a fair display.
Nothing you’d call brilliant but enough to make his day.
We think he’ll be an asset and popular with the lads.
He’s just an average fellow with his own peculiar fads.
Like the rest, he’ll take his chances in games we lose or win.
And we’re not at all concerned with the blackness of his skin.
Well, thank you, N.F.. That was very – erm – well-intentioned.