I’m left arm over
I’m the new red ball
I’m the prodding by the batsman
at the green and sweating pitch.
I’m two slips and a gully
I’m a short square leg
I’m the keeper standing back
and the umpire’s call of “Play”.
I’m the short strides then the long
the rock back and the gather
I’m the front foot thudding down
as the ball departs my hand.
I’m the seam proudly upright
I’m the late movement in
I’m the bat that is nowhere
as the ball hits the pad.
I’m the turn to the umpire
the scream of an appeal
I’m the slowly rising finger
and the batsman’s long walk back.
I’m the hugs I barely feel
as I focus on the moment
when for one ball I decoded
the mysteries of swing.
Tim says: “Swing” is my contribution to the new anthology ‘A Tingling Catch’: A Century of NZ Cricket Poems 1864-2009, edited by Mark Pirie (HeadworX, 2010). I’ve read the anthology, and it’s very good.
Technical note: Before the physics majors who haunt these poetry blogs start commenting on it: yes, I realise the ball won’t swing if the seam is precisely upright, as claimed in Stanza 4, and that the seam should be slanted slightly to the right if the bowler wants to create inswing, and to the left if the bowler wants to create outswing, unless the ball is roughed up enough to reverse-swing, in which case those directions should be reversed. But that would have taken a lot of extra stanzas to explain. What am I, a coaching manual?
Check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog.