THE CRICKETER IN WINTER.
Punch, September 30, 1903
The days are growing short and cold;
Approaches Autumn, ay and chill Yule:
The Latest Bowler now has bowled
His latest devastating pillule.
Gone are the creases, gone the “pegs”;
The bungling fieldsman now no more errs
By letting balls go through his legs
And giving batsmen needless fourers.
Things of the past are drive and cut,
With which erstwhile we would astound men;
The gay pavilion’s doors are shut;
The turf is given up to groundmen;
Gone is the beautiful length-ball,
Gone, too, is the batsman who would snick it;
Silent his partner’s cheery call.
Football usurps the place of cricket.
Now, as incessantly it pours,
And each succeeding day seems bleaker,
The cricketer remains indoors,
And quaffs mayhap the warming beaker.
Without, the scrummage heaves and slips;
Not his to play the muddied oaf. A
Well-seasoned pipe between his lips,
He reads his Wisden on the sofa.
Or, if in vein for gentle toil,
Before he seeks a well-earned pillow,
He takes a flask of linseed oil
And tends his much-enduring willow,
Feeling the while, what time he drops
The luscious fluid by degrees on,
Given half-volleys and long hops,
How nobly it will drive next season!
Then to his couch, to dream till day
Of fifties when the pitch was sticky,
Of bowling crisply ”put away,”
Though it was manifestly tricky,
Of umpires, confident appeals,
Hot shots at point, mid-off and cover,
Of cricket lunches (perfect meals!):—
Such dreams attend the cricket-lover.
And, though the streets be deep in snow,
Though slippery pavements make him stumble,
Though rain descends, though blizzards blow,
It matters not: he scorns to grumble.
What if it lightens, thunders, hails,
And common men grow daily glummer,
In him contentment never fails;
To such a man it’s always Summer.
Unsigned verse as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 125 of Punch.
muddied oaf: See end note to “Muddied Oafs” for more on this Kipling epithet for football players.