Launch Speech by Don Neely on A Tingling Catch
Don Neely's launch address at the Basin Reserve Long
Room 31 October 2010
A Tingling Catch: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Long Room
at the Basin Reserve.
Today, even though I am in my second home, I confess to feeling
like a fish out of water. For three decades I have been used to
addressing audiences about cricket and introducing famous
international cricket people, players, commentators, writers,
officials and leading politicians from the Government, the
Wellington City Council and the Diplomatic Corp.
Today I am delighted to launch Mark Pirie's, 'A
Tingling Catch', A Century of New Zealand Cricket
Poems, 1864 - 2009, to an audience of people whose love of
poetry is as great as my love of cricket.
The famous English cricket commentator, writer and poet, John
Arlott, once told me that there had been more books written on
cricket than any other sport. This was 20 years ago and I have no
reason to suspect that this fact is still true. Included are a
number of anthologies of the poetry of cricket, all of them from
England. To the best of my knowledge no other test country has
compiled an anthology. Hence, A Tingling Catch'
becomes an important statistic in the history of New Zealand and
Some of my favourite English writers, Alan Ross, R.C.
Robertson-Glasgow, Herbert Farjeon, Norman Gale and Alan Gibson,
were also printed poets like Arlott. In common their writings on
cricket display an incomparable blend of poetic imagination, shrewd
judgement of character, verbal resource, and ready humour.
My cricket acquaintances were firstly players.
We have all grown-up reading Wisden and have over 150
books relating to cricket on our bookshelves. We talk, observe and
think on a similar wavelength.
'A Tingling Catch' has taken me to a new view of
cricket. Poetry is about ideas from a different perspective and I
felt that I needed to have a discussion with the poet who wrote the
The language of the poems differed from my cricket vocabulary
and I found this stimulating. Some of the poems jumped off the page
and reminded me of some long-forgotten game or situation that I had
encountered on the field.
The cover captures the summer game being played on a much-loved
venue. 'A Tingling Catch', takes me back to the first time
that I caught a cricket ball and the sting in my hands conveyed a
skill attained to match my older brother - a badge of maturity.
Every variant of the game is captured from playing in the
backyard or street, to school, club, first-class, test cricket,
social cricket and pen-portraits. The historic, the
self-deprecating, the tragic, the amusing, the sad - all have their
rightful place in this most comprehensive anthology.
Mark is to be congratulated on the thoroughness of his research.
For 5 years he has raided newspapers, libraries, magazines and
books in search of gems, to produce a richly, entertaining history
of verse and song about cricket spanning 146 years. We can enjoy
the book today -- and for the rest of our lives.
Mark you never played cricket for New Zealand except in your
dreams but rest assured that you have made a vital contribution to
the history of cricket in New Zealand.