Not that you’d be able to tell from the downturn in weather but the cricket season is upon us. And as you know from my website bio playing and watching cricket is another of my passions; playing for and captaining the B Sharps cricket team is a hugely proud accomplishment of mine. Cricket has also been a great subject in popular music, responsible for some great songs, ten of which I’ve posted here for your enjoyment. Perhaps it’ll give you something to watch while the rain pours down on the cricket pitch.
Although they sing about cricket, saying they don’t like it, they love it, Dreadlock Holiday isn’t about cricket so much as the protagonist of the song trying to avoid, somewhat unsuccessfully, to be ripped off whilst on holiday in Jamaica. The song is largely based on the experiences members of the band had in the Caribbean, actually Barbados. It has now become synomous with cricket with the I Love It tagline being used in cricket adverts the world over.
The West Indies collection of Caribbean states have always had a passion for cricket, with their players performing with a joy and delight that is somewhat infectious. This has also found a place in Caribbean music with reggae influenced tunes such as Dreadlock Holiday being preceded by the Calypso of, in particular, Lord Kitchener. Most famously Lord K sand the victory calypso about a famous win for the West Indies over England, but on this record he lauds the great England quick bowler, Alec Bedser.
Perhaps the most famous sound in cricket is the commentary and sometime inane chatter that the BBC Radio offer up on Test Match Special. The theme song, Soul Limbo by Booker T and The MG’s, has become clearly identified with cricket and always brings back memories of hearing great commentators as Brian Johnstone and John Arlott bringing to life players and games.
Cricket has always been ripe for gentle ribbing, something impressionist Rory Bremner achieved when taking off Paul Hardcastle’s massive 80’s hit about the Vietnam, 19, in invoking the likes of Richie Benaud in n,n,n, 19 not out. Likewise, in more recent years, arch pop absurdist, Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy, took cricket as a theme to create entire albums with a cricket theme under the name of The Duckworth Lewis Method which is the system by which games can be decided where bad weather affects the game. Here the band pays homage to former Pakistani captain, batsman and renowned contrarian Javed Miandad.
Australian’s love their cricket. And will always support (though recent events may have changed that view) their players. But also they’ll give their players the rounds of the litchen sink if they feel they deserve it. It is fair to say that Shane Warne is one of the greatest players ever to grace the game, but also the whole world has often taki=en great delight on the many occasions where, shall we say, Warney has left himself oen for a bit of mickey taking. Here Aussie comedy singer songwriter Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson, offers some advice to Shane about putting his wanger away…I’m not sure its a type of delivery!
A band who perform some of the most absurd songs are Half Man Half Biscuit with songs such as All I Want for Christmas is The Dupla Prague Away Kit. Fred Titmuss was an English all rounder who had a twenty year international career. Perhaps that’s what prompted the band to exclaim Fuckin’ ‘Ell, It’s Fred Titmuss!
In the 1990’s it became the fashion for music to be played at one day games with the England team players choosing songs at which to walk out to bat to. One I remember was Phil Tufnell who entered for his normal brief stay at the crease to Oasis’ Cigarettes and Alcohol. But the funniest one was when the wicket keeper came out to How Much Is That Doggie In The Window. Which wicket keeper was that…. Jack Russell of course!
Perhaps now is the time to bring back a more serious side of the game. And a song that is often heard at the funeral of old players is the wonderfully emotional Roy Harper song, When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease, heading for the pavilion for one last time, ready to hang up his boots, put away the willow and watch from afar the game he loves…
If nothing else the game of cricket is a quintessionally English pastime, after all only the English could invent a game that you can play for 5 days, stopping every couple of hours for a cup of tea and a cucumber sandwich and then still be happy when the game peters out to a draw. And if there is a band that typifies, certainly in later days, Englishness then the Kinks and their 1973 concept album, Preservation, are that act, with from that album a song even called Cricket.