Thank God who made the British Isles
And taught me how to play,
I do not worship crocodiles
Or bow the knee to clay.

Give me a willow wand, and I,
With hide and cork and twine,
From century to century
Will gambol round my Shrine.

Notes on the text

Thank God who made the British Isles... heavy sarcasm at the expense of the ‘flanneled fools’ of “The Islanders”, although these cricketers have a robustly antiquated air about them. Kipling is clearly unimpressed by their worship of the game, and their sense of superiority to heathen foreigners.

I do not worship crocodiles  … clay Kipling is here combining the Greco-Roman tradition of mocking Egyptians for worshipping animals (see in particular Juvenal, satire 15, with the crocodile in l.2), and the Old Testament tradition of mocking gentiles for worshipping idols, the work of their hands (compare the first line of ‘The ‘Eathen’).[D.H.]

Sussex Cavalcade (Ankers & Smith, Hawthornes Publications, Sevenoaks, 1992, rev. 1997) says (p. 61), apropos of the Almanac: ‘… June featured Alfred Mynn at the wicket. He was a famous Kent all-rounder of the 1830s and 1840s who weighed some 18 stone.’

a willow wand Cricket bats are made of willow wood.

hide and cork and twine Cricket balls have (or had) a core of cork, covered in leather and bound with twine.