Every fan down in Taunton liked cricket a lot.
But Graves, who lived in the cave above Taunton, did not!
Now Graves hated cricket! The whole cricket season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be, perhaps, that his ties were too tight.
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.
Or that he couldn’t fathom something you couldn’t buy in a store.
That cricket, perhaps, meant just a little bit more.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
But, whatever the reason, his heart or his ties,
The fans of cricket were who he did truly despise.
Staring down from his cave with a sour, Gravesy frown
At the warm lighted windows below in their town,
For he knew every fan down in Taunton below
Had a cricket game coming to which they planned to go.
“And they’re happy and joyful,” he snarled with a sneer.
“Tomorrow is cricket! It’s practically here!”
Then he growled, with his Graves fingers nervously drumming,
“I must find some way to keep cricket from coming!
For, tomorrow, I know, the fans all around,
Will wake bright and early. They’ll rush to their ground!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
There’s one thing I hate! All the NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
They’ll sit close together, in tens and in twelves.
They’ll sit in the stands, enjoying themselves!”
And the more the Graves thought of this cricket fan crowd,
The more the Graves thought, “This can’t be allowed!
Why, for seventy-one years I’ve put up with it now!
I must stop cricket from coming! But how?”
Then he got an idea! An awful idea!
The Graves got a wonderful, awful idea!
“I know just what to do!” The Graves said with a hoot.
“I’ll just make a quick ECB tie and a suit.”
So he went to the ground, suitably dressed,
And the foolish cricket bigwigs were very impressed.
Graves said , “There are people who aren’t yet cricket fans,
And to convince them, I have some very cunning plans.
The problem, you see, is that cricket’s too long.
You’ve been playing for centuries, but doing it wrong!
The people think that too much cricket is played.
So the less you play cricket, the more you’ll be paid!”
So Graves sold his idea. Lesscricket, he called it.
And he explained to the bigwigs how they all could afford it.
“There’s less balls, less games, less teams and less players!
But more money!”, Graves added, to answer their prayers.
For the cricket bigwigs all had the same small, slight flaw.
Whatever they had, they still wanted more.
They wanted their hands on all they could get,
Including the bank’s money, so they were all in huge debt.
Graves promised them riches, he promised them cash,
And so the bigwigs did something quite rash.
They gave Graves their key to the players’ room,
Not knowing that Graves meant to cause them their doom.
Graves snuck in to the ground later that night,
With his Gravesy bag and his Gravesy light.
He saw all the Taunton players, all in a row.
“These players,” he gravesed, “are the first things to go!”
Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant,
Around the whole room, and he took everyone present!
It was quarter of dawn. All the fans still a-dream,
All the fans still a-snooze, when he packed up their team.
He went everywhere that night, to Hove and to Kent,
Taking all of the players from wherever he went.
Graves stroked his chin, he was lost deep in thought.
“Where can I hide all of these players I’ve caught?
Perhaps where there are no fans of cricket?
That would be the perfect place to stick it.
No cricket fans to make their horrible noise,
No happy children, no girls and no boys.”
So Graves took them all to Cardiff in Wales,
And he told all the players some incredible tales.
Graves told them, “Ignore the empty stands,
You’ll all make more money without those pesky fans!”
Graves laughed as he returned to the scene of his crime,
As the fans down in Taunton reached waking-up time.
“Pooh-pooh to the fans!” he was gravesily humming.
“They’re finding out now that no cricket is coming!
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Then the fans down in Taunton will all cry boo-hoo!
That’s a noise,” grinned the Graves, “that I simply must hear!”
He paused, and the Graves put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over the hills.
It started in low, but was giving him chills.
But this sound wasn’t sad!
Why, this sound sounded mad!
Every fan down in Taunton, the tall and the small,
Still somehow liked cricket without players at all!
They were angry, and upset, and looking to blame,
The person responsible for taking their game!
He hadn’t stopped cricket from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
The fans all gathered, in their clubs and their porches,
Then went looking for Graves with pitchforks and torches.
Graves, being clever, turned tail and ran,
And he hid in his cave, as only Graves can.
This really wasn’t going the way that he’d plotted.
Graves was really quite sad until something he spotted.
The children in Taunton weren’t playing cricket at all.
They looked puzzled if you gave them a bat and a ball.
With no team to love, no players even near,
Those kids would be fans of something else this year.
Perhaps tennis, or rugby, or hockey, or netball,
But cricket won’t enter their young minds at all.
“Eventually there will be no new fans of cricket,” Graves foresaw,
“The few fans left, I can easily ignore!”
The Graves was so happy. He had cheated and lied,
And now got to watch as cricket slowly died.
His grin was enormous, and some people say,
That his heart grew three sizes that day.
For cricket’s demise filled Graves with great joy,
As he started to think what was next to destroy.
The moral, dear children, is to guard what you hold dear,
And don’t believe all the promises you hear.
Because every single person in an ECB suit and tie,
If their lips are moving, is telling a lie.
Merry Christmas from Dmitri, Chris, Sean and myself!