The Slaughtered Goose

My last piece in The Cricketer (May 2003 issue) before the take-over. I have a go at the Central Contracts system which it seems to me is wrecking the county scene. Why build up a young player since he will be taken away from you and put into storage if he reaches Test level- which he can only do by playing well at county level…. Solution:- . Import from sunny climes. I noticed with pleasure that the great Geoffrey Boycott echoed my views, in his trenchant prose style, on the TV., shortly afterwards.

(Scene: a visitor from Mars visits a county match where he engages the only other spectator, a Centenarian, in conversation……)
“Excuse me, Sir, if I disturb
Your thoughts as here you bask.
At nod from you my tongue I’ll curb,
Nor unasked question ask.

These teams who just for us two play
On this deserted ground,
Do they spectators drive away
With methods dull, unsound?”

“The Powers that Be alas see fit,
Since Test Teams they select,
The leading players to omit,
From County games eject.

It’s kid-glove treatment for ‘The Best’,
Cocooned in cotton-wool,
Who form a Squad for each Home Test,
And hope for ‘Houses’ full.

Same system for the ‘One-Day-Bash’:
The Powers that Be protect
The able-bodied for this trash
Where muscles oft are wrecked.

This system kills the concept COUNTY:
Its application robs
The chance for stars to share their bounty,
In duels like Tate v. Hobbs.

Had this been earlier applied,”
He added with asperity,
“The County Scene had been denied
Grace, Hammond, Hendren, Verity,

Mead, Woolley, Cowdrey, Hutton, Farnes,
I mention names at random:
Fry, Ranji, Hirst, Blythe, Hayward, Barnes,
Rhodes; Larwood-Voce in tandem.

Sir, leave me now,” he gently begs,
While I sip bitter juice
In contemplating ‘Golden Eggs’
Laid by the ‘Slaughtered Goose’ ”.

[With kind permission of The Cricketer]

This appeared in the final appearance of Poets’ Corner (May 2003) before The Cricketer was taken over, to re-appear as The Wisden Cricketer. It should be noted that verse had been a regular feature of The Cricketer during its long innings from 1921-2003. Plainly the New Men are averse to a rhyme.

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