Opening Up

Like a nervous batsman,
on a cracked, uneven pitch,
my timing’s gone, my shot selection poor

I scratch around for rhythm and form,
while fielders’ impish shadows cast
distraction on a length

As much as weariness and drought
the mental game will wear you down;
my grip’s too loose, my stance askew, and this bat weighs a ton.

A bowler paces back with languid threat
to start his run at the turning point,
half a county away

You dream of an innings laced with panache,
as you watch his silent canter in,
the full array of strokes, a decent score

the marriage of technique and grace,
Of hooks, pulls, sweeps and drives,
imagined and remembered things,

And not these thin and meagre flukes
you nick and slice and edge away
to backward square of leg

He reaches his delivery stride,
you steel yourself to face and guard
and try to pick the line,

Asking yourself
if it’s too late now
to appeal against the light

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