These long-extended wickets and rueful ruins
Where nought but bowlers reign, and night dark night
Dark as was chaos ‘ere the infant innings
Was rolled together, as black as the pitch
Itself was rolled. The sickly in-swinger
By glimmering through the low-browed misty defences
Furled round with thy spittle and ropy slime
The ball a supernumerary horror
And serves only to make my night more irksome.
Those words which belong to one of the Blair brothers from Otago always enter my head when I am bowled out for a low score and help me calm the immediate daggers of the mind which lead to such thoughts as the dripping carcus of Hadlee impaled on the wickets of my brain which stand the top Gothic Calgary – he lusts after the Bleeding Nun who dances seductively around his writhing body, each movement driving the barbed spike deeper into his body – yet he can do nothing as his desire for the nymph of the nunnery increases –
he closes his eyes trying to shut out the beautiful visage, but she moves closer, her perfume filling his head and all his senses maddened by her touch, his agony and ecstasy complete as he becomes the more ensnared in this trap, this spider webb of human passion, she the black-widow smiling all the while….
“John, you know I’ve said this before a hundred times, but what a funny game this game of cricket is! How many times have I tried to fathom my utter fascination for this peculiar sport and really, it’s like trying to understand the very mysteries of the universe itself. Its great struggle between random chaos and calculated order seem played out over a lengthy period of five days, although admittedly this being a one-dayer somewhat condenses the process. It baffles and beguiles me!
“Dennis – Yes, but wasn’t that a lovely ball by Hadlee. It certainly baffled and beguiled Monk Lewis – in terms of what you’ve just been saying he certainly will be returning to the pavilion with a belief in intelligent beings existing outside his universe!
“Beware the man from outer-Hadlee”, he will be warning his colleagues. I think what you were about to say before that dismissal has validity to a point, although there would of course be little achieved in the like of Chatfield bowling maiden over after maiden over if there was not Hadlee’s penetration to complement it.”
“Of course, I agree with that and you’re really just saying what I said in reverse, but I should like to pursue, if I may, the more philosophical aspects I began on while we await the next Out of It batsman. I heard a delightful comment from a BBC commentator, and I think it may have been Christopher Martin-Jenkins, I’m not sure. But, he was talking in an aside to a game between New Zealand and England where he mentioned that Dereck Pringle happens to wear contact lenses on the field and glasses in “real life!”
This was a casual off-hand comment and would have passed by had someone not jokingly made a comment to the effect that “do you not think cricket is part of real life?”, which in turn led to a general discussion about the nature of cricket and real life. Now the point I make is….”
“I’m sorry Dennis but the real life game of cricket impinges yet again upon our fantasies as the number three batsman, Te Rauparaha, walks onto the field, waving his bat defiantly over his head as though it were a huata, his head held high as he walks towards the battle.”
“Just while Te Rauparaha prepares himself, I’d like to say a few words about Monk Lewis. He never really looked comfortable and an opening batsman’s job is never easy of course. I remember in the New Zealand versus England test series of 1965-66, in the match at Lancaster Park I think it was, the great Boycott himself went out for four, caught off the bowling of Motz in the first innings.
And to top it off scored the score of four in the second innings also when he fell victim to a run out. So, Lewis is in illustrious, if not enviable company with his four runs.”
“Thank you for that enlightening information. I’m sure that the Monk will feel all the better if he’s listening but our attention turns now towards Te Rauparaha and how many times in recent years have we seen a Captain bat at number three – it just makes me wonder, you know….”
“I’ll just interrupt you here John, as Hadlee runs into a slight breeze blowing at his back, he passes the umpire with that magnificent flowing stride of his, and bowls to the Out of It Captain who plays a lovely cover drive and the ball races out to the boundary as Te Rauparaha shows his intention from the start. He’s not the kind of player who likes to be held down or dictated to and…”
The radio commentary was gradually superceded in the Malone’s head by thoughts of his own. He had been meditating on the comment about Dereck Pringle and the difference between reality and dreams, real life and illusion. These were thoughts he had not allowed himself for many moons and he could feel the pull of his former Bohemian life becoming stronger, his sureness slowly subsiding like a seemingly secure stock-bank in times of flood…
“So nothing has changed then, all these years of the illusion of reality, undermined by a single, spring tide of high thinking. The iron curtain had lifted to reveal no security. A short while ago it was I was thinking as one of me Irish ancestors might who had no more book-learning than what you can get at the farm-bog gate, and now I’m seriously discussing with myself, through the catalyst of some comment about Dereck Pringle being in real life off the cricket field because he wears glasses, although when he’s on, bowling that round cork encased in red leather, he’s in some sort of supposed fantasy and then my mind extending the argument to the grand banality of philosophical truth or otherwise and all the time me own wife, Maureen O’Shea, is telling me that I’m living in some sort of unreality, and that I’d better get a job because we’ve got to pay the rent and eat the food and the baby is only two months away ten years ago and yet here I am…”
P.S.M. could hear the low-rev chugging of a diesel engine as it struggled in the Kingsland Embankment bringing a train of goods from Northland in its wake. The German word for train is zug and means the puller. The emphasis on the power in front rather than the “train” which follows had always intrigued Malone, as had the Germans themselves fascinated him.
He had always thought it something to do with the powerless being enchanted by the powerful, and he had also absorbed their guilt for the grand evil of Nazism and used it as a metaphor for his own, although he had nothing to feel guilty about except the fact that he was alive and was aware of the fact! And as he sat there on the Eden Park Grandstand, watching and listening to this fabulous game they called cricket, and