Bowler = pitcher, tries to knock small sticks (bails) off bigger sticks (stumps) behind the batter; the stumps and bails are a wicket
The batter’s job is to protect the wicket, and if he hits the ball, to run back and forth between the two teams’ wickets in a path called the crease, with the scorer keeping track of how many times he runs back and forth.
slip-rail: a board slid between two fence-posts used as a gate
A peaceful spot is Piper’s Flat. The folk that live around
They keep themselves by keeping sheep and digging up the ground;
But the climate is erratic, and the consequences are
The struggle with the elements is everlasting war.
We’d plough, we’d sow, we’d harrow and then we’d pray for rain;
And then we’d all get flooded out and have to start again.
But the folk are now rejoicing as they’ve never done before,
For we’ve played Molongo cricket, and MacDougal topped the score!
Molongo had a head on it, and challenged us to play
A single-innings match for lunch – the losing team to pay.
We weren’t great guns at cricket, but we couldn’t well say, “No!”
So we settled in to practise, and we let the reaping go.
We scoured the Flat for miles around to gather up our men,
But when the list was tallied we could only number ten.
Then up spoke big Tim Brady: he was always slow to speak,
And he said – “What price MacDougal, who lives down at Cooper’s Creek?”
So we sent for old MacDougal, and he stated in reply
That he’d never played at cricket, but he’d half a mind to try.
He couldn’t come to practise – he was getting in his hay,
But he guessed he’d show the beggars from Molongo how to play.
Now, MacDougal was a Scotsman, a canny one at that,
So he started in to practise with a piling for a bat.
He got Mrs Mac. to bowl him, but she couldn’t run at all,
So he trained is sheep-dog, Pincher, how to scout and fetch the ball.
Now, Pincher was no puppy; he was old, and worn, and grey;
But he understood MacDougal, and – accustomed to obey –
When MacDougal cried out “Fetch it!” he would fetch it in a trice,
But, till the word was “Drop it!” he would grip it like a vice.
And each succeeding night they played until the light grew dim:
Sometimes MacDougal struck the ball – and sometimes the ball struck him!
And when he struck, the ball would plough a furrow in the ground,
But when he missed the impetus would turn him three times round.
At last the fateful day arrived – the day that was to see
Molongo bite the dust, or Piper’s Flat knocked up a tree!
Molongo’s captain won the toss, and sent his men to bat,
And they gave some leather-hunting to the men from Piper’s Flat.
When the ball sped where MacDougal stood, firm planted in his track,
He shut his eyes, and turned him round, and stopped it – with his back!
The highest score was twenty-two, the total sixty-six,
When Brady sent a yorker down that scattered Johnson’s sticks.
Then Piper’s Flat went in to bat, for glory and renown,
But, like the grass before the scythe, our wickets tumbled down.
“Nine wickets down for seventeen, with fifty more to win!”
Our captain heaved a heavy sigh, and sent MacDougal in.
“Ten pounds to one you’ll lose it!” cried a barracker from town;
But MacDougal said “I’ll tak’ it mon!” and planked the money down.
Then he girded up his moleskins in a self-reliant style,
Threw off his hat and boots, and faced the bowler with a smile.
He held the bat the wrong way at, and Johnson with a grin
Stepped lightly to the bowling crease, and sent a “wobbler” in;
MacDougal gently spooned it back to Johnson waiting there,
And then he yelled out “Fetch it!” and started running like a hare.
Molongo shouted “Victory! He’s out as sure as eggs,”
When Pinched darted through the crowd, and ran through Johnson’s legs.
He seized the ball like lightning; then he ran behind a log,
An MacDougal kept on running, while Molongo chased the dog!
They chased him up, they chased him down, they chased him round, and then
They chased him through the slip-rail as the scorer shouted “Ten!”
MacDougal puffed; Molongo swore; excitement was intense;
As the scorer marked down twenty, Pincher cleared a barbed-wire fence.
“Drive at him!” yelled Molongo. “Brain the mongrel with a bat!”
“Run it out! Good old MacDougal!” yelled the men of Piper’s Flat.
MacDougal kept on running, and Pincher doubled back,
The scorer counted “Forty” as they raced across the track.
MacDougal’s legs were giving out, Molongo’s breath was gone –
But still Molongo chased the dog – MacDougal struggled on.
When the scorer shouted “Fifty” they knew the chase could cease;
And MacDougal gasped out “Drop it!” as he dropped within his crease.
Then Pincher dropped the ball, and as instinctively he knew
Discretion was the better plan, he disappeared from view;
And as Molongo’s beaten men exhausted lay around
We raised MacDougal shoulder high, and bore him from the ground.
We bore him to M’Ginniss’s, where lunch was ready laid,
And filled him up with whisky-punch, for which Molongo paid.
We drank his health in bumpers, and we cheered him three times three,
And when Molongo got its breath, Molongo joined the spree.
And the critics say they never saw a cricket match like that,
When MacDougal broke the record in the game at Piper’s Flat;
And the folks were jubilating as they never did before;
For we played Molongo cricket – and MacDougal topped the score!
Thomas E. Spencer (1845 – 1911)