An Australian History Lesson

© Beryl Stirling

Winner, 2020 Inaugural King of the Ranges written competition, humorous section, Murrurundi, NSW.

It started way back at the Oval.
Yeah!  August, in eighteen eight two,
when we took out the match with seven run win –
something they didn’t dream we could do!

Now this was a famous occasion!
Went to school, did yer?  What’d yer learn?
That’s the year when the Pommies said Cricket had died
and its ashes was stuffed in an urn.

On the side of this urn there’s some writin’ –
crook meter and terrible verse –
that listed the team they’d selected next year
to regain it for better or worse.

Now, you’ve heard of that other world scorer
what writes Yay or Nay  ’gainst yer name?
Sez it matters not whether yer win or yer lose
but yer attitude, playin’ the game.

But yer Ashes is no way a friendly,
where everyone cheers when yer score.
No, yer Ashes is more of a stoush if yer like –
unofficial, but yeah!  It’s a war.

And so it’s gone on over decades,
a grudge match if ever there was.
We all lose our blocks if the Poms win the urn
and they rage when it comes back to Oz.

Tell yer the truth, though, it never gets back,
for the Poms keep it locked up at Lords.
It’s a trophy that’s never presented, y’know
and an ongoing source of discord.
You’ll of  heard of the body line series?
‘Thirty two, when the Poms tried it on?
Puttin’ theory of fast leg to practical use
in an effort to do in The Don. 

I tell yer, that’s no understatement –
no slanderous yarn or a myth!
An accident, maybe, in that second test
when Archer damn near clobbered Smith?

No!  Yer Ashes is serious business.
No pussyfoot, sandpapered balls.
Barmy Army and sledgin’s just commonplace stuff –
but check out the umpires’ calls.

Like I told yer it isn’t a friendly.
It’s all about winning the game 
and after a loss there’ll be heart searching probes
to decide where to settle the blame.

See, if they win they’ve used dirty tactics
and when we do, they reckon we cheat,
but when it’s a draw, it seems nobody’s pleased.
It’s gotta be win or defeat.

‘Retained them?’  It’s time that we claimed ‘em,
the way the Invincibles did
in that ’48 test when we won every game
and the Pommies was really outdid.

See, in cricket there’s no compromises
when the Pommies and Oz take the field.
Yeah!  A  hundred years back and a century on
don’t give quarter’s the word.  Never yield!

God save the Queen?  There’s no problem
with Him keepin’ her happy and glorious –
but whenever the Ashes come under dispute,
it’d better be us that’s victorious!

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