Test Match Sabina Park Poem by Stewart Brown Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English


The poem “Test Match Sabina Park” is written by Stewart Brown. In the poem, the speaker is a white man who goes to Sabina Park to watch a cricket match between the English team and the West Indies team. The game is boring and slow paced. He is the only white man in the audience and thus is blamed by the other spectators for the English team’s underwhelming performance.

About the Poet

Stewart Brown was born in 1951 in Southampton, United Kingdom. He is an English poet and a professor of African and Caribbean Literature. He has published many works of poetry, including “Zinder”, “Ludgard’s Bridge” and “Elsewhere”.


The poem is divided into six short stanzas consisting of four to five lines each.

Stanza 1

Proudly wearing the rosette of my skin 

I strut into Sabina 

England boycotting excitement bravely 

something badly amiss.


The speaker enters the Sabina park proudly because his skin is the color of “Rosette”. The speaker thinks that the team of England is boycotting excitement intentionally but he soon finds out that something is different here.


The speaker walks into the area with pride. He “struts” into the park wearing his “rosette” skin. This shows that the speaker is a white man and is proud of his race because of the color of his skin. These lines depict a sense of arrogance in the speaker. The next lines talk about how the speaker thinks that England is “boycotting excitement” with bravery. He talks about the team as if they are warriors fighting a war with bravery and courage. But he soon realizes that something is wrong, this shows that the behavior of the English team is different from what he expected.

Stanza 2

Cricket. Not the game they play at Lords, 

The crowd- whoever saw a crowd 

At a cricket match? – are caged 

vociferous partisans, quick to take offence.


The speaker says that the game that the English team is playing is not what they play at Lords. He says that the crowd at the park is huge and acting like caged animals. They are rowdy and easily get angry.


The speaker says that the game is very different from what he has seen at Lords, back in England. He also comments on the audience in the park. He says that the crowd is huge and behaves in a very aggressive manner. The crowd is “caged vociferous partisans”, insinuating that they are kept behind mesh fences unlike the free way in Lords. The speaker also says that the crowd is “quick to take offence” which means that they get angry very easily on behalf for their team.

Stanza 3

England sixty eight for none at lunch. 

‘What sort o battin dat man? 

Dem kaaan play cricket again, 

praps dem should-a-borrow Lawrence Rowe!’


This stanza shows that the team of England is playing very badly and after half a day has only been able to score sixty eight runs. The Jamaican spectators are not pleased with this at all and criticize the batting of the team. They make joke and say that perhaps the team needs to borrow Lawrence Rowe, a famous batsman at that time.


By lunchtime, the score of the England team is still very poor. This makes the Jamaican audience very restless. They begin to criticize the team’s batsman and jokingly ask whether they need to borrow Lawrence Rowe to become better players. Lawrence Rowe was a famous Caribbean batsman at the time.

Stanza 4

And on it goes, the wicket slow 

as the batting and the crowd restless. 

‘Eh white bwoy, how you brudders dem 

does sen we sleep so? Me pay me monies 

fe watch dis foolishness? Cho!’


The speaker says that the unimpressive performance of the England team goes on and the crowd becomes restless. They start to shout at him and ask him for his team’s poor performance. One of the man complains and says that he feels his money is wasted because the performance of the team is very boring.


The bad performance continues on and the Jamaican crowd gets frustrated. One of the men in the crowd calls out to the speaker and calls him “white bwoy” and questions him about the bowing play by his white “brudders”, brothers. The other spectators start to blame the speaker for the team’s performance.

Stanza 5

So I try to explain in my Hampshire drawl 

about conditions in Kent, 

about sticky wickets and muggy days 

and the monsoon season in Manchester  

but fail to convince even myself.


The speaker tries to explain and make excuses on the behalf of the team but he is unable to do so properly. He tries to tell them that it might be because of the different weather conditions in England and Jamaica but he is unable to convince either them or even himself.


The speaker tries to come up with reasons for the bad performance by the team. He is grasping at straws and ties to chalk it up to the difference in Esther conditions. He says that it might be because the English team is not familiar with monsoon as it is not present in Manchester and is a phenomenon of the African and Asian countries. But all this sounds unconvincing even to his own self.

Stanza 6

The crowd’s loud ‘busin drives me out 

skulking behind a tarnished rosette 

somewhat frayed now but unable, quite, 

to conceal a blushing nationality.


All the shouts and complaints from the crowd drive the persona out of the park. He is embarrassed by the whole situation and the rosette on his face is now tarnished by a blush of humiliation. He is unable to conceal his nationality.


The shouts from the crowd embarrass the speaker and he leaves the park. He sulks behind the “tarnished rosette”, this means that his skin color has been tarnished by a blush due to humiliation. But all of this is still unable to hide his nationality. It can be seen how the sense of pride dissipates from the speaker by the end of the poem. He had “strut” into the park with arrogance and pride due to this race, but by the end he was embarrassed by his nationality and wanted to hide his identity.