News and Views from Oliver Preston

So that’s how the Ashes came about.

Mar 12 2014
©oliverpreston ©henry birtles ©oliverpreston ©henry birtles

The poet Henry Birtles has put pen to paper for the 2013 Ashes tour – illustrated by Oliver Preston. The original was sold for Stg 3,500 in aid of The Shane Warne Foundation and Hop, Skip and Jump Charity, at a star studded 20/20 cricket match at Cirencester Park in June attended by a team of England stalwarts led by Michael Vaughan, and an Australian side led by Shane Warne.

Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Darren Gough, Merv Hughes and Australia captain, Michael Clarke all took part, and the match was umpired by England veterans David Gower and Allen Lamb. 


Aussie, Sir Donald BradmanAussie, Sir Donald Bradman

The Ashes

Saint George said to Saint Donald, his Aussie counterpart

Let’s call a truce, lay ghosts to rest, let’s broker a fresh start

Let’s put aside our differences, but celebrate them still

From Melbourne to the Motherland, we’ll implement a bill

Oh come on Mate that’s bullshit, the Saint quickly replied

A Bill’s for Cops and Sheila’s votes and blokes who march for pride

It’s not a fitting tribute to the dawn of a great day

Let’s burn some bleedin’ bails my friend and take the field of play


Cricket St. George ©oliverprestonCricket St. George ©oliverpreston


Knights will sit with dragons at the calling of the toss

The Swagman, once his Billy’s boiled, will toast each England loss

Whatever happens on the pitch, for what will be will be

Matilda and Ned Kelly will come waltzing in at tea

The challenge must be ruthless; in sport, no truer test

Five matches should be spic and span to settle who’s the best

But if the series closes out, with stale mate for its toils

The team that won it last time shall retain their winners’ spoils

Agreed upon the format, a conflict there was born,

Whose evolution gave us greats like Bradman, Botham, Warne

Household names from York to Yass, from Perth to Piccadilly

Larwood, Thompson, Grace, McGrath; Freddie, Border, Lillie

There’ve been some tribulations, some trials, some damn fine Tests

And lesser times, quite frankly, when our manners have digressed

Sledging in old Blighty, once a sport for gentle slopes

Became an Aussie tactic aimed at bashing Pommy hopes

That said, those English cricketers can’t claim a slate too clean

Recall the famous 30’s speech of one Captain Jardine

I haven’t come six thousand miles to make colonial friends

Bounce high into the Bodyline; we’ll see how they defend

Through Cricket we’ve a rivalry, whose equal isn’t known

Encoded in our very core and set in more than stone

The Ashes speaks of many tales; what’s here and now, what’s been

The Gatting Ball and Headingly; the Urn, the Baggy Green

The Long Walk through the Long Room, the hallowed Turf of Lords

Invincibles and Legends, not just names up on the Boards

The Wacca and the Oval, the Barmy Army’s Hill

The MCG and all the grounds, the History and Good Will

We’ll tell our mates old George my friend; both nations to a man

To speak unto their children of the day we hatched our plan

For all our Countries’ tests and trials and convicts bloody lashes,

We made a pact, they took their guard to fight for Flag and Ashes

Poem ©Henry Birtles

Illustrations  oliverpreston

A print of this original, above,  (400mm high by 560 mm wide), signed by Oliver Preston and Henry Birtles is available , price Stg 75 +p&p,  from the shop.

About the Blog

Oliver Preston is a Cartoonist and Illustrator whose draws regularly for The Field Magazine, The Racing Magazine, Polo Magazine and Cotswold Life. His work has also been published in Punch Magazine, The Spectator, The Times, Independent, Guardian and The Beano and The Dandy. Exhibited at The Fine Art Society in 1999, Preston is published in over ten books, and Beverston Press publishes greeting cards and limited edition prints of his cartoons. Preston, 48, is chairman of The Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury in London, and set up the Cartoon Art Trust Awards in 1995. He lives with his wife and family in the Cotswolds, England.

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