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The summer anthems playlist for the NatWest Blast encapsulates the sound of summer for cricket supporters across the UK. Or does it?
May 12, 2014
Everyone remembers their first mix tape. Mine was a mess; an unholy amalgamation of pop, racial profanity-riddled hip hop (plus Will Smith), rock - both prog and indie - and Royksopp. Music was taken to new lows, as J-Kwon led into Six Pence None The Richer before stumbling into Creed, then death by ambient Swedish sample. Such an eclectic, borderline horrendous mix was only destined for ridicule.
When the ECB offered all 18 counties the chance to put forward one song, then enlisted the public to decide the best 10, the danger was that the NatWest T20 Blast Playlist might plumb lower depths.
"Our search for the NatWest T20 Blast Summer Anthems Playlist has given us 10 songs that really encapsulate the spirit of summer for cricket fans," beamed ECB chief executive David Collier. Unverified sources revealed Collier was heard to exclaim a combination of the words "big" and "tune" as he played Derbyshire's nomination, Levels by Avicii, on loop for an entire afternoon.
Music seems to be the overriding theme for this year's competition, as evidenced by The Summer Sounds of Cricket - a glimpse of a post-apocalyptic future where Marcus Trescothick is our overlord on the ones and twos and county cricket's finest fight for our survival by rubbing together stumps, presumably to give us fire. Sign me up.
Quite how diplomatic discussions were over each team's choices is anyone's guess. For the time being, we can only speculate, and the thought of Dougie Brown locking his players in an Edgbaston changing room until the Bears settled on Flo Rida's Good Feeling is one I want to keep. So, too, is the vision of a disgruntled John Bracewell, flanked by Gidmans, storming Lord's and demanding answers as to how Duke Dumont's steel drums were overlooked?
First, the good news - Gangnam Style failed to make the preliminary 18. Sigh as you might - PSY no doubt will - but, quite simply, the county system's lack of early season West Indian influence nipped this in the bud. Few have taken to it with as much gusto as the boys in maroon, even displaying its emotional dexterity with a series of angry trots towards James Faulkner during their dramatic win over Australia in the recent World Twenty20.
Of those that didn't make the cut, the worst has to be Worcestershire Rapid's Dibby Dibby Sound. If you're not familiar, consider yourself lucky. But, if curiosity does get the better of you, be prepared for two days of that thumping beat reverberating about your skull as you fight the urge to replace every other word with "dibby", like a Smurf that surfaced too quickly. This recommendation would not have happened if Alan Richardson's was still around.
The final 10 has a bit of everything: hits, a dash of floor-fillers and the odd forgotten classic.
That Surrey's minions opted for Happy, which collected the most fan votes, might be down to their youthful makeup, allied to the fact that most of them spend the off-season in Australia's grade system. From Hobart to Brisbane, singlets and thongs clapped along to Pharrell Williams' obsession with roofless rooms while enjoying England's seemingly bottomless despair Down Under.
Yorkshire nail a tried and tested hit at number two with the Rolling Stones and Start Me Up. However, while a sensible choice, it has been a staple of Twenty20 cricket in this country for a good while. Heaven forbid, it suggests they did not exactly spend days thinking about it.
Thanks, then, to defending champions Northants who redress the balance with The Boys Are Back In Town down at nine. Nottinghamshire go for Embrace's escalating Ashes; a spine tingler that has scored at so many different sports that there is every chance it is by Kasabian.
Four to six is a combination that would not be out of place at a student union; perfectly encapsulating those first well-oiled steps onto the dance floor and that post 3am jaunt for glorified vices that inevitably end with a kebab/chicken parm/fried pizza depending on your whereabouts.
Middlesex form a circle, arms around one another, before jumping in unison to The Fratellis. Avicci hits - Collier goes wild - and then Place Your Hands (Reef) hits, just before the light comes back on to illuminate your collective shame. But it's OK because you've put your hands up.
The wiser, older heads of Somerset bring back some semblance of class with The Kinks before Hampshire undo it all. For a team that have shown an intrinsic appreciation of short-form success, Hampshire's introduction of Pitbull, who once rhymed the word 'Kodak' with 'Kodak', should be subject to an inquiry. That they manage to drag Ke$ha into the mix is the most impressive showcasing of mediocre talent since the Sydney Thunder. Bringing it all to a close, Leicestershire redeem things with a timeless worldie in Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime.
Whether this focus eventually manifests itself into onsite DJs remains to be seen. As the World Twenty20 showed, there was a lot to be said for a Bangladeshi man going through a midlife crisis, imploring spectators to quench his thirst for "noise".
Of course, it is easy to criticise Twenty20s showbiz frills, with our bitter in hand. Crictainment is not something totally embraced in this country, like sex on TV or tea out of a glass. Even when we tried, all we could muster were "walk on" girls and pizza on a sofa. We do not have the consistent weather to appease, nor the grassy banks to frolic. But what we do have is an appreciation of a good night out.
If T20 Friday nights are to be something, then let it be this: rapturous crowds living for the weekend, as Avicci blares through the PA systems and David Collier giving it large. You never know, it might actually work.
Vithushan Ehantharajah would be ESPNcricinfo's music critic if we had one
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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