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Famous World Cup chants decoded

In which we deconstruct what the fans are yelling in the stands

R Rajkumar
The Barmy Army in full song, New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, 3rd day, March 16, 2013

"It's a 1000-word song, only with 996 words taken out"  •  Getty Images

Consider the sports chant. Whether it takes the form of a song, cheer or jeer, whether fuelled by piercing wit or the diffuse haze of an alcoholic bender, it has become part of the fabric of watching a game live. There are those that have accomplished histories ("You'll Never Walk Alone" was originally a 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune before becoming synonymous with Liverpool defeat), and others notably less so ("Aloo! Aloo!" was simply, before it became synonymous with cricket's most famous player-fan altercation on a fateful fall day in Toronto, a description of what's for lunch).
Whatever the provenance and intention behind a particular chant, there's no escaping its often prickly presence in the room, and the influence it can have on both fan and team. World Cup 2015 is no exception, and the sooner you familiarise yourself with some of the more ubiquitous of these ditties making the rounds, the more life will start to make sense for you, at least over the course of the next few weeks.
"Dil Dil Pakistan"
This deceptively simple pop song by the Rawalpindi band Vital Signs has since its release become something of an institution for Pakistan cricket fans. A song that is unique in that it apparently consists of all chorus and nothing else, it can be heard often during home games, especially in instalments of four-second blasts over loudspeakers whenever a Pakistani cricketer has scored a boundary, taken a wicket, or run his hand through his flowing hair.
Strictly translated as "My Heart, My Heart Pakistan," the song has the added advantage of also being used as a legitimate complaint against the physical effects of watching the team play a World Cup match against India.
The tune's soft, lilting melody has also been known to lull those who sing it into a false sense of security - something that is obviously very important (vital, if you will) for the mental well-being of the average Pakistan cricket fan who has to watch the average Shahid Afridi innings.
The band, which incidentally named itself after watching Shoaib Mohammad compile one of the slowest double-centuries in existence, sadly no longer perform together, but their music lives on. And on, and on.
"Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!"
Here we have a chant so unique, so prized, that it has even been registered as an official trademark to protect it from "overseas exploitation". Needless to say, the rest of the world is poorer for it as a result.
The way it works is, the chant is usually initiated by someone in the stands, preferably a bearded man with a face as red as a beet, by his yelling out "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!", upon which follows a complex call-and-reponse with the rest of the crowd, the chant being progressively broken from there on into smaller and smaller parcels of the original:
Bearded man in crowd: "Aussie Aussie Aussie!"
Crowd: "Oi Oi Oi!"
Man: "Aussie!"
Crowd: "Oi!"
Man: "Auss!"
Crowd: "O!"
Man "!"
Crowd: "..."
Man: "..."
Crowd: "."
And so on, until both parties have successfully answered the ancient zen koan about what the sound of only one hand clapping is. Hey, it's not for nothing that Australian players are considered to be most in tune with their Buddha natures.
After this has been achieved, the chant then gets picked up by a different bearded man, and its entire existential cycle begins again. Pretty interesting stuff.
"Barmy Army! Barmy Army!"
Although the song "Jerusalem" is supposedly the ECB's "official hymn" (well, aren't we fancy), a more popular alternative has proven to be simply the repeated chanting of the phrase "barmy army" as many times as you can in unison with everyone else around you. Because how better to emphasise your support for your team than by repeatedly bellowing not the name of the team itself, but that which you have collectively given yourselves.
Doing this also doubles as a useful public service reminder to those in the crowd who might have just woken up from the obligatory hangover that sometimes comes with being an English cricket fan, and started to wonder who and where the hell they are, never mind what year it is.
"Indiyaaaah, India"*
Arguably one of the most complex, sophisticated and inspired rallying cries not just in cricket, but in all of sport. Professional songwriters and effete literary types agree that the two words that make up the chant rhyme rather impressively when put together. But the real genius lies in its construction and play on expectations.
The first part is the set up. "Indiyaaaaaah..." The word is drawn out, stretched taut like the string on an archer's bow, all the better to deliver what one assumes will be the sharpened arrow of a punchline to follow, something to render opposition fans and players alike inarticulate with defeat against the caustic wit to come any moment.
Except it never comes. There is no caustic wit. There is no punchline. What there is, is a repetition of the first part, only foreshortened. "Indiyaaah.....India." It is, in other words, the mother of all anticlimaxes.
It is the inanity that gets you. Maddened by the knowledge that their entire chant is composed of just these two words, Indian fans push themselves to even more frenzied heights of perversity by repeating them over and over again, like malfunctioning robots in a cheap sci-fi film that require a thump on the back to stop their compulsive behaviour. Opposition fans, meanwhile, similarly maddened by the same knowledge, have been known to pack their bags and go home rather than subject themselves to it any more than they have to.
Now you tell me that isn't genius.
* Also see "Sachiiiiiin, Sachin"
"Rally Round the West Indies"
It might seem odd that a song about a famous rally car driver who took it upon himself to motor the circumference of all the major islands of the Caribbean should find its way into becoming what amounts to the national anthem of West Indies cricket.
But that still shouldn't excuse the blank looks of most West Indies players and fans whenever it's played at the start of matches; none of them seem to actually sing along/ know the words/ even care about the song.
A shame, because it isn't the worst sounding tune in its category, not by a far cry, and it's hard to escape the feeling that some of the West Indies players could do with an infusion of that ol' rallying spirit. Hey, say what you will about motorsport, they at least know how to wave a good flag.

R Rajkumar tweets @roundarmraj