Banjo Paterson's Tobruk Test poem

Name: H.B. Paterson
Date: 1941
Unit: AIF
Location: Middle East

This is the second of two poems written by H.B. Paterson, son of Banjo Paterson, for his friend Victor Wright, during service in Tobruk.

Tobruk Test

You've heard of Bradman, Hammond,
Macartney, Woodfull, Hobbs.
You've heard of how MacDougall topped the score.
Now I'd like to tell you how we play at cricket in Tobruk
In a way the game was never played before.

The players are a mixture
They come from every rank,
And their dress would not be quite the thing at Lords;
But you don't need caps and flannels and expensive batting gloves
To get the fullest sport the game affords.

The wicket's rather tricky
For it's mat on desert sand,
But for us its really plenty good enough;
And what with big bomb craters and holes from nine inch shells
The outfield could be well described as rough.

The boundary's partly tank trap
With the balance Dannert wire
And the grandstands just a bit of sandy bank,
While our single sightboard's furnished by a shot down Jerry plane.
And the scorers in a ruined "Iti" tank.

One drawback is a minefield
Which is at the desert end;
And critics might find fault with this and that
But to us all runs are good ones even if a man should score
Your leg byes off the top of his tin hat.

The barracking is very choice
The Hill would learn a lot
If they could listen in to all the cries
As the quartermaster-sergeant bowls the Colonel neck and crop
With a yorker, while some dust is in his eyes.

And the time the Signals runner
Scored the winning hit,
When as he sprinted round the wire to try and save the four
The Battery-Sergeant-Major fell into a crater deep
And the batsmen ran another seven more.

If we drive one in the minefield
We always run it out
For that is what our local rule defines
It's always good for six at least, sometimes as high as ten
While the fieldsman picks his way in through the mines.

Though we never stop for shell fire
We're not too keen on planes,
But when the Stukas start to hover round
You can sometimes get a wicket if you're game enough to stay
By bowling as the batsmen go to ground.

So when we're back in Sydney
And others start to talk
Of cricket', why we'll quell them with a look,
You blokes have never seen a game of cricket properly played
The way we used to play it in Tobruk.

To Vic Wright

With regards from the writer
H.B. Paterson

The material for this article was supplied by Mrs Nanette Punch of New South Wales

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