Act 1: In Which Australia Smell Blood

Test 902 – England v. Australia at Nottingham, June 18th-21st 1981
Australia won by 4 wickets

The Ashes is a drama
With as many acts as games,
It makes heroes out of cricketers,
And giants out of names.

At Trent Bridge back in 81,
The giants shrunk a little,
Too much time finding what went wrong,
Too little in the middle.

And England were not blown away,
Nor Botham’s captaincy,
Australia just wore them down,
With grim efficiency.

The pressure was in Botham’s head,
And writ large in his play,
As catches spilled on to the turf,
On first and second day.

It was hardly a test to remember,
A green top made treacherous batting,
Only Allan Border looked comfortable,
And to a lesser extent so did Gatting.

But Australia won, as Australia do,
They never let up on a chance,
With Botham on trial and England in pieces,
The drama, at 1-0, advanced.

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In Bloom

Test 902 – West Indies v. England at Kingston, April 10th-15th, 1981
Match Drawn

This could be the tale of Graham Gooch,
And his stiff upper lip,
His refusal to bow down to Colin Croft,
And stubborn English grit.

It could the story of captain Clive Lloyd,
A faultless reliable bat,
But he has been that now for many a year,
So where is the drama in that?

For this was the making of one David Gower,
A veritable coming of age,
From delicate, budding, youthful flower,
To commander of the stage.

He gave a chance, just one chance mind,
When dropped on twenty nine,
But he dug in his heels and gutted it out,
Making not just runs but time.

It was so un-Gower-like, yet that itself,
Gower-like became redefined,
Adding the hardness, resistance and steel,
Adding the strength of mind.

The pictures were there, and he still struck a six,
A controlled, almost brush stroke of power,
The West Indians toiled, and paid total respect,
They just couldn’t better our Gower.

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A Semblance of Pride

Test 901 – West Indies v. England at St Johns – March 27th-April 1st 1981
Match Drawn

Its Clive Lloyd as captain,
And Clive Lloyd as batsman,
And Clive Lloyd as thorn in the side,

Its England improving,
Its England disproving,
Its England by Clive Lloyd denied,

Its off for the rest day,
Then rain on the fourth day,
With England 190 behind,

Its Boycott redoubled,
Its England untroubled,
Regaining a semblance of pride.

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Like They Do.

Test 900 – West Indies v. England at Bridgetown, Mar 13-18th 1981
West Indies won by 298 runs

Day One, England play,
And they might, they might have had the best of the day,
They were taking wickets – doing OK,
and then Clive Lloyd.

Day Two, England slump,
As Michael Holding, Holding smashes Boycott’s off stump,
He’s just one of many English chumps,
Once again.

Day Three, England mourn,
And they learn, they learn Viv Richards refound his form,
And he smashes every bowler with scorn,
Like he does.

Day Four, England stunned,
As Graham Gooch, Gooch and David Gower get runs,
And then Viv Richards bowls and spoils the fun,
Like he does.

Day Five, England slain,
As only Gooch and Willey show resistance again,
And they end it in a whole world of pain,
Like they do.

And they’ll talk of Holding’s over for years,
A decade later it brings Boycott to tears,
And you’ll never see a better six balls sent down in a row,
You’ll never see them better in a row.

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The Dangers of Pedestrian Scoring

Test 899 – New Zealand v. India at Auckland, Mar 13-18th 1981
Match Drawn

Spinner, spinner, test match winner,
Bracewell with the ball,
Spinner, spinner, test match winner,
Troubling them all.

Blocker, blocker, batting shocker,
Scoring 1 in 4,
Blocker, blocker, batting shocker,
Win if you get more.

Hours, hours, seven hours,
For just a hundred ten,
Hours, hours, seven hours,
Yet to bat again.

Chasing, chasing 1-5-7,
26 for 1.
Chasing, chasing 1-5-7,
Couldn’t get the runs.

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Waiting For.

Test 898 – New Zealand v. India at Christchurch, Mar 6-11th 1981

In rain, they wait,
For dry, they wait,
For days, they wait,
For play, they wait,
And when play starts,
For runs they wait,
In skies of grey,
And rain they wait,
And Chauhan mustered
Seventy eight,
And Hadlee showed
himself a great,
The weather
made it all too late,
And even Reid’s ton
had that fate,
They could not use,
Another date,
A draw, then,
From the even state.

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Test XXX – West Indies v. England at Georgetown, Feb 28th-Mar 5th 1981

There was then not a single ball,
Bowled in the second test at all,
As England pulled out quite appalled,
That Robin Jackman was black-balled

Those two subjects that shouldn’t mix,
Namely sport and politics,
With one of England’s lesser quicks,
That’s Jackman, misdemeanours fixed.

Guyana thought it black and white,
He sympathised with apartheid,
And English admin tried to fight,
But couldn’t muster up the might.

They pulled out of the second game,
And rather passed the buck of blame,
A resolution never came,
A poisoned mess, an ugly shame.

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