8 TESTING by Barrie TIMES Abrahams There's cricket down at the oval The players all soaking with sweat Theiri faces are sunburnt and ruddy We've not seen the best of them yet. There's Willis bowling to Chappell Where Larwood once bowled to the Don The leather is struck to the boundary Between wicket and widish mid-on. There's Dyson and Border both playing Their skill is a treat to be seen The speed and the spin have just shown us That runs are not easy to glean. The Aussies and Poms appeal loudly The croud are all hushed at the pace They all play to win in spite of the grin Which spreads across all of each face. Then a cry of "It's tea" from the boundary The players all freeze at the call My mum's on the warpath, I'll just have to go And I'll take home my bat and my ball. A Y O R K S H I E M A N ' S P R A Y E R Yorkshiremen have always lent legends and colour to cricket. One such was Emmott Robinson the archetypal Yorkshire professional of the pre-war years and no one who met and talked cricket to him for even thirty seconds would doubt the sheer passion of his involvement in all county matches but the Roses game in particular. It is said that he made a point of getting to one match earlier than anyone else and, having checked that no one had yet arrived in either dressing room, Emmott took a cushion, went into the showers, removed his trilby hat and knelt to pray; "Oh Lord, I know that Thou art the great Judge of any cricket match between county or nation. Today Yorkshire and Lancashire meet in the Roses match. If Yorkshire are the better side, they'll win; if Lancashire are the better side, they will win (he must have said that with an utter lack of conviction) An if there is rain it will probably a draw. But, Oh Lord, if You will just keep out of it for three days we'll knock Holy Hell out of 'em"
THE CRAZIEST MATCH I EVER by FRANK LONIE PLAYED IN * X The year was 1969. The place was a large air base called Phan Rang, in South Vietnam. There was a war going on. Wars do a number of things to Australians. For a start, their attention is gained. Furthermore, they tend to become absorbed in the nastier aspects of their day-to-day activities. War has, however, never been able to remove from Australians their pre-occupation with cricket. Quite the contrary. So it was to prove while I served in Vietnam with No. 2 Squadron, RAAF. I was on the tarmac one day when a young airman, whom I knew very well and respected greatly, approached and said: "What about a cricket match between the officers and airmen?" I was not so much surprised, as somewhat taken aback. I didn't know how we could find the time, I told him. There were, after all, somewhat more important activities going on around us. A match would take at least half a day, even with limited overs. "I happen to know," he said, "that you do a good deal of the programming. Couldn't you organise the programme so that all of the strikes were completed by about midday?" "I suppose so," I said thoughtfully. So it was done. I left the arrangements pretty much in the capable hands of my airman friend. "Can you find a reasonable pitch?" I asked. "Of course," he grinned. "The Americans have a great area down alongside the strip, they've set it up as a Softball field. It's ideal." "Okay," I said, "You're in charge of arrangements. What about gear?" "No problems," he said, "The Australian RSL has sent us a lot of gear. All new too. We've been using it a bit for practice, but it's really as good as brand new." This was reassuring. "Okay," I said, "I'll tell the commanding officer and we'll consider the match a fixture for about a week's time." He grinned again. "Four dozen cans? Loser buys?" I thought for a moment. I knew that most of the officers, even those who were players, were out of practice, including me. But I considered that I held an ace. This was Mike, one of our young pilots who could have played for his State, at least, if he had decided to be a full-time cricketer, rather than a bomber pilot. I had played with him and against him and I knew his cricketing capabilities fairly well. He bowled very quickly and could move the ball both ways through the air. He could also use the seam to destructive effect, off the pitch. He batted at about five or six and was always good for forty or fifty. Little did the airmen, I thought to myself, appreciate my secret weapon.