They'd lose the toss and invariably take the field,
eleven in white on a Sunday afternoon,
a midsummer day, the sun at it's hottest height,
surrounding trees like ancient supporters applauding.
The umpires signal for the match to begin,
the fast bowlers on before they turn to spin,
and progresses through the long bee-hummed day.
He's fielding at mid-off, his gaze often drawn
to the varied greens against the spectating sky.
The batter plays to mid-wicket off his legs
but mistimes the stroke, ball catching the leading edge,
arcing steeply through the air, looping his way.
He's taken so many catches like this before
and cups his hands like a heart to receive the ball.
He's set and steady, it's descending at speed,
he hears it humming like bees as the seam rotates,
catching the air like a comet crashing through
a planet's atmosphere, till it slaps his palms,
the centrifugal force twisting it away
and down to the grass before he can react,
a misjudgment later ridiculed in the bar.
A dropped catch seems important at the time
and the match is lost but not just through his mistake.
The evening sun is lowering in the sky
as the aging trees still sway indifferently.