Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Cruelest Month

April is the cruelest month, breeding 
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

The opening lines of T S Eliot's The Waste Land remind cricketers everywhere of the challenge of returning to outdoor nets.

Players mix memory of previous seasons' triumphs or injustices with their desire to perfect that leg glance, or to acquire a new bat, or to dismiss a deadly rival from a neighbouring side who blasted you to every corner of the ground last year.

Doughty groundsmen are examining the dull roots, hoping for the signs of growth that will give an even covering to the wicket and excite bowlers and batters alike.

TS Eliot certainly knew what was in the mind of a cricketer.   This is remarkable for he never played the game.  But that's the great artist for you.

Further on in this section is the line

Summer surprised us, coming over the Pavilion
With a shower of rain;

Pedants will point out that the printed edition of the poem does not mention pavilion, but refers to the Starnbergersee.  But that is obviously nonsense for there is no cricket ground with that name.

Fantasy Bob has examined Eliot's manuscript.  It is ambiguous.  But pavilion makes considerably more sense, and is regrettably a accurate description of cricket in Scotland.

FB hopes this summer will surprise us.


  1. Has FB checked the status of cricket in Oberbayern I wonder? He might be surprised. On the other hand, to expect good cricketing weather in Scotland in April is probably as futile as England trying to dismiss Jayawardene for less that 3 figures on a good batting wicket. And may Scotland reign in Spain!

  2. Indeed there is no cricket at Starnbergersee, although there is at not too distant Tegernsee, also accessible by commuter train from Munich.

    Starnbergersee is, however, of interest to cricketers since it was here that 'Mad' King Ludwig, patron of Richard Wagner and serial builder of expensive palaces, was found dead in mysterious circumstances. Wagner was, of course, the inventor of the Götterdämmerung, or goddam ring, so hated by doughty groundsmen due to the time wasted laying and lifting tedious pieces of plastic.

    1. Glad you clarified that Iain. I noticed from my researches that there is a Munich Cricket Club, which styles itself as MCC, and indeed quite a lot of cricket is played in Germany now. A quick glance at the team sheets reveals a distinct lack of European names, however. As for Mad King Ludwig, sadly his magnificent Neuschwanstein fairytale castle had no cricket pitch attached.

    2. Yes, I remember being surprised at Hamelyn (admittedly in the former British Zone) to see sight screens on a sports field. But it was too like home - it was a sodding wet Saturday afternoon and the place was deserted!
      As for Neuschwanstein, any cricket field there would put Grange Loan to shame. Even Fantasy Bob would struggle getting up that hill.

    3. Agreed that Neuschwanstein would be a tough call, though possibly not to a Wagner fan. If my memory serves me correctly, FB did once attend an all-day (and possibly all-night)production of the complete Ring Cycle, a feat which takes masochism to an entirely new level. The fact that he took a book to read during this event detracts in no way from the scale of the achievement. He deserves a long service medal, or at least a seat in the House of Lords.