Sunday, 25 January 2015

Address to an Umpire

Fantasy Bob has continued his world famous research into the unpublished cricketing works of Robert Burns.

He reproduces his most recent find below - but he has not discovered why Burns should have suppressed this fine work.

After all he used the opening lines again in his celebrated Address to the Devil.  That poem was written in 1785, a year which marked a decline in the fortunes of the dominant Hambledon Club as cricket spread throughout the country.

However in this, undated, original draft Burns targets a devil of a different sort, as he presents an ironic, but heartfelt, celebration of the challenges facing the umpire in lower league cricket with which Burns seems to have been fully familiar.

Address to an Umpire

O thou! whatever title suit thee,—
Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie!
Thou art ne'er a thing o’ beauty
Nor yet inspiring
Thou maun do your cricketing duty
By Umpiring

In upper grades th’ umpire’s appointed
Wi' sponsors’ logos weel anointed
But in low’r leagues we’re disappointed
Thou'rt just a player
Thy knowledge of the laws disjointed
And peculiar

Whiles aifter tea thou felt like rest
But mercy be thou'rt cruelly pressed
The skipper says there's no chiel else
Prepared tae stand
The juniors couldna tak' the stress
But thou art the man

What could be simpler than to count six
It disnae need Higher Mathematics
But every over's full o' tricks
Tae complicate
No balls, dead balls, wides. Thy count is fix'd
By guestimate

The LB law's a real damnation
Each chiel has his interpretation
But can he gie an explanation
O' a decision
Withoot causing consternation
Or derision?

'Not out,' we hear thee sagely cry
'It's missing leg; it's ower high;
The ball has hit the batsman's thigh;
No stump wad be hit;
An' onywye, the sun was in my eye
I didna see it

There's places in this noble land
Where billies deem LB's been banned
So have the years passed since the man
Has raised the finger
Though bowlers scream their fraught demand
The batters linger

A loud appeal for caught behind
Thou must be deef, thou must be blind
Could thou hear, nor see, nor call tae mind
A deviation?
Thon batter's no a walkin' kind
It's ruination

Fegs! Low'r league players we a' suffer
At the whims o' sic a duffer
But we shouldna tak the huff for
There's no reason
We'll get the smoother and the rougher
O'er the season

Ah umpires! Thou must be respectit
I pay thee tribute thou'rt so neglectit
It ill becomes those at the wicket
To yell and doubt thee
For there would be nae bonny cricket
Were we withoot thee

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