The Test of Men

Man against man, willow on ball,
One by one by one they fall,
Or blade ascends to take the day
And stays the end till end of stay.
Willow swoops to despatch leather,
As blade and bowled ball come together.
To boundary races the swatted cherries,
As fielding men chase runs it carries.
Then ball takes turn to rule the clash
In clattered stumps and willow thrash
Or nicked to glove or legs before
Or ball to hand or myriad more.
Malevolent threat of fast bowled swing
Which rises to throat as if on wing
Or black art spin betwixt magic and style
Which turns and leaps, lost men to beguile.
Like gladiatorial pair in battle’s thrall
With shield of blade and weapon of ball
The smite, the strike, the dodged full flow,
The smile to rile the game long foe.
Still yet the hostilities erupt and flare
In intense contest and stony stare
Around the ground the baying throng
Incite to greatness in partisan song.
This, when days have numbered five
Man to man an end they strive
And win they must should legend stand
Of bat to ball and ball to hand.


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