Cricinfo XI

Now that's what I call music ...

Martin Williamson takes a second look at cricket's contribution to the world of music

Martin Williamson

July 25, 2006

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Last week we published a Cricinfo XI of cricket songs and were inundated with suggestions of ones we had missed. So here is the second installment with apologies for any even more obscure ones we have omitted. Click here for last week's selections



Roy Harper: © mistlethrush.co.uk
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When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease Roger Harper
Championed by legendary DJ John Peel ("in the halcyon years before he bravely but terminally took on punk without a helmet" according to reader Graeme Beswick), this is about as blatantly cricket as you can get and provided Harper, who recorded it at the famous Abbey Road studios with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in 1974, with his best-selling single. Peel asked that the song be played in his memory when he died. Harper had less success with his eulogy to the dire Watford Gap services three years later, the company running the outlet objecting to his lyrics Watford Gap, Watford Gap / A plate of grease and a load of crap.

Bradman Paul Kelly
Widely considered to be an icon of Australian music, Kelly's 1989 tribute to another icon was the most-requested nominee for the second XI of this musical mishmash. He was more than just a batsman / He was something like a tide / He was more than just one man / He could take on any side. It is said that Bradman contacted Kelly to congratulate him after hearing the song. And in terms of length, at eight minutes it's fittingly more a Test match than a one-dayer.

Marvellous Billy Birmingham and MCG Hammer
Birmingham is loved and hated in equal measure throughout the cricket-playing world for his series of 12th Man recordings, in which nothing is sacred and nobody beyond parody. While most of the time he is happy to mock Tony Greig, Bill Lawry and Richie Benaud, this one musical contribution - a semi heavy composition - maintains the standards of the spoken word. Benaud, it is widely reported, is decidedly unamused at Birmingham's output, mainly because of the liberal use of profanities.



Rory Bremner: books and videos followed his record career © Universal Pictures
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N-N-Nineteen Not Out The Commentators
This record by Rory Bremner, Britain's leading impressionist for the last two decades and a cricket nut, was a parody of Paul Hardcastle's massive global hit, 19, where that was the average age of a US combatant in the Vietnam war. Bremner modified the lyrics, threw in impersonations of the BBC's commentators, and it became the batting average of the England side who had been subjected to a 0-5 whitewash at the hands of West Indies the year before. The record, which was produced by Hardcastle under a pseudonym against the wishes of his record company, reached No. 13 in the UK charts in 1985.

I Made A Hundred In The Backyard At Mum's Coodabeen Champions
Composed by Greg Champion, a member of The Coodabeen Champions - a long-running ABC national radio show - for 22 years. The simple lyrics will cause anyone who has ever thwacked a ball around in the garden or street smile - I hooked 'em off me eyebrows and I tried to keep me head / And the ton came up with a straight drive through the window of the shed . A few years later Champion updated the lyrics to reflect the match-fixing scandals prevalent at the time. The kid who set it up and organised the whole event / Was boasting of connections on the subcontinent / When the match began he stood at fine leg all alone / Taking calls from India on his mobile phone. Ah, Hansie Cronje and Co. cause innocence to be shredded.

Jazba Junoon Junoon
The song which accompanied Pakistan into the 1996 World Cup, and one that's not at all bad and was accompanied by a video interspersed with clips of the side in action. Until its release, Junoon were a struggling soft-rock band, but this song - one picked by the Pakistan board from more than 60 entries - helped elevate them to new heights. Coca-Cola paid the group around �23,000 for the rights to the tune, and Junoon have gone on to greater things. In 2004, their album Dewaar sold one million copies in a month. Like all good rock bands, they have also had their brushes with the authorities. In 1996 they released a song called Ehtezaab(Accountability), which accused former prime minister Benazir Bhutto of removing ancient Pakistani artefacts to her mansion in the UK. Not quite sex and drugs, but a start. Click here for the video.



Keedie: marginally more photogenic than Kevin Pietersen © Cricinfo
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Jerusalem Keedie
Clearly not a blatant attempt to cash in on the post-Ashes euphoria of 2005 - much - the ECB flew 23-year-old classical singer Keedie to Faisalabad (where England's tour of Pakistan was underway) to record this song in a makeshift studio in a hotel lobby. The William Blake hymn had already been hijacked by the ECB to act as a rousing tune to accompany England onto the field at the start of the day during home matches, and a record was a natural progression of that. Lancastrian David Lloyd, commentating for Sky Sports, was delighted with the choice of Keedie as it kept him lined up with one-liners referring to Gary Keedy (the Lancashire spinner) almost throughout the tour. In fairness, all proceeds from the venture were put towards helping the victims of the earthquake which struck Pakistan in October 2005.

Gavaskar Lord Relator
A calypso in the style of Lord Beginner's Cricket, Lovely Cricket,, this was written in tribute to a touring player following Sunil Gavaskar's heroic exploits in the Caribbean in 1970-71. It was voted at No. 68 in a poll to find the best calypso of the 20th century. It was Gavaskar / The real master / Just like a wall /We couldn't out Gavaskar at all / Not at all.

The Ashes Song Bob Willis And The Wickets
Michael Paterson wrote in with a terrifying memory of watching the long-running children's TV show Blue Peter in 1978 when, so he says, they showed a video by Willis ahead of that winter's Ashes tour. Willis, who added Dylan as a middle name in homage to musical god Bob Dylan, took 20 wickets on the tour "more than the number of records he sold". All investigations have drawn blanks, and we have to hope that Paterson's recollections are a legacy of teenage experimentation with alcohol rather than fact.



David Rudder: Caribbean anthem © Artists Direct
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Rally Around The West Indies David Rudder
Trinidad born and Canada based, Rudder is an artist and calypso singer - he provided back-up vocals to Lord Kitchener in his early days - who penned the song that has gone on to become the semi-official anthem for West Indies cricket and the one usually played as the West Indies cricketers take the field at the start of a day's play. Indeed, when a decision was made to come up with an anthem for the Caribbean, many advocated Rudder's song be adapted. Some of the old generals have retired and gone/ And the runs don't come by as they did before / But when the Toussaints go the Dessalines come / We've lost the battle but yet we will win the war.

Eton and Winchester Frederick Septimus Kelly
Researching this article revealed that cricket songs composed in the decades either side of 1900 were ten a penny - for more information see David Allen's 1981 book A Song for Cricket - and one of the more unusual came from Kelly, an Eton-educated Australian who wrote sonatas and orchestral pieces immediately before the Great War. This work celebrates the annual match between the two schools. A remarkable character, he won a rowing Blue at Oxford and a gold medal for Britain in 1908. He was killed on the Somme in 1916.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.

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