Sonny Ramadhin

Cecil Gray evokes the spirit of West Indies cricket


They said you kept a wily secret

up your rolled-down sleeve, the Englishmen

who fell before you like a crop of canes.

 

Three steps and a subtle turn of wrist

wrought apertures spread-eagling their stumps.

They looked behind bewildered, open-mouthed.

 

Here in these islands we screamed joyous shouts

as every wicket fell. We’d taught our masters

how to play the game. The name of Ramadhin

 

made pride flush in our veins. Then we sent you with

your guile to beat Australia. Our little marvel

off to twist the mighty giants by their tails.

 

At four o’clock one morning, Christmas Day,

you had Doug Ring out. We’d won. The umpire

said no. Oceans away here, like you, we wept.

 

What you sent down for over after over

was not a ball with stitches in red leather.

It was an orb investing us with power.

 

So in our hearts we placed your statue up.

How strange that time has caked its bronze with rust,

and children playing now trample your dust!

 

–– Cecil Gray
From
The Woolgatherer (Peepal Tree Press, England, 1994). Reprinted by permission