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What We're Watching

A song and dance about bat and ball

This week on What We're Watching, we bring you the music of cricket

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Members of the West Indian team record a song, "Victory Calypso" in Lansdowne Studio, Holland Park, London, August 29, 1976

Members of the West Indian team record a song in a studio in 1976  •  PA Photos

This week on What We Are Watching, we bring you music inspired by cricket, made for cricket, and even performed by cricketers
Cricket Lovely Cricket
Lord Beginner's calypso "Victory Test Match", written after West Indies crushed England by ten wickets in the 1950 Lord's Test, is perhaps the greatest musical tribute to the game. For seven decades now, the words "Cricket Lovely Cricket", and the chorus, "With those two little pals of mine, Ramadhin and Valentine", have encapsulated the flair and laid-back rhythms of Caribbean cricket.
Long before Rahul Dravid was anointed the Wall, Sunil Gavaskar was serenaded with that term after his exploits in his 1971 debut series in the West Indies. Lord Relator's calypso, with the famous line, "We couldn't out Gavaskar at all", summed up the mood of the tour.
The Stockport-based band 10cc sang the words "I don't like cricket… I love it" in their 1978 reggae song "Dreadlock Holiday", which was used in Sky Sports' cricket coverage decades later.
Among the three usually credited songs about Don Bradman, Paul Kelly's 1987 track "Bradman" is perhaps the most popular. Kelly idolised Bradman from childhood, so he wrote a biography of sorts in this song, and used archive footage of his career the video.
Greg Champion's "I Made a Hundred in the Backyard at Mum's" isn't too well known among cricket fans outside Australia, but it's a quirky take from a singer who loves the game. The video is hilarious, beginning with a Richie Benaud impression, and most cricket fans can relate to the lyrics.
The guitar in the kitbag
Quite a few cricketers are also excellent musicians. Sanjay Manjrekar doesn't disappoint with Kishore Kumar covers in his album Rest Day, which features him singing his and his India team-mates' favourite Bollywood songs.
Brett Lee also has a Hindi music connection thanks to this duet with the legendary Asha Bhosle. He is also part of a band back home in Sydney with four of his New South Wales team-mates - Gavin Robertson, Brad McNamara, Richard Chee Quee and his brother Shane Lee. Six & Out have brought out the occasional single, none more popular than "Can't bowl, can't throw", an homage to the infamous 1999 incident involving Scott Muller, Shane Warne and Cameraman Joe.
Henry Olonga is another cricketer with a great voice. He took part in The Voice Australia last year, and has a YouTube channel with this description on its About page: "All things to do with short films, music, videography, photography, binaural audio, music production, fishing, philosophy, inspiration, the after life and much more."
Mark Butcher, who sings and plays guitar, released an album in 2010 called Songs from the Sun House. His song "You're Never Gone" was written in memory of his team-mate and friend Ben Hollioake, who died in a car crash in 2002.
Former Bangladesh cricketer Omar Khaled Rumi is possibly the only cricketer in the world who was a sporting and musical pioneer in his country. Rumi was in Bangladesh's first ICC Trophy squad in 1979, and several years before that, in 1972, he fronted what is widely believed to be the country's first rock band. It split up a couple of years later, but Rumi remained a man of cricket and music.
Sing for the moment
A long-standing victory tradition in the Australia team is to belt out "Under the Southern Cross". Former wicketkeeper Rod Marsh initially led the singing of the song in the 1970s, and the honour has since been passed on to Allan Border, David Boon, Ian Healy, Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer, Michael Hussey and currently Nathan Lyon.
In the mid-2000s, when Bangladesh began winning games more frequently, their players began a tradition of their own, singing verses of "Amra Korbo Joy", the Bengali version of "We Shall Overcome". They belted out this rendition during their run to the semi-finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy.
The Barmy Army follows England wherever they go, and at the start of every game or day's play, they chant "Jerusalem", a song that has its roots in "And did those feet in ancient time", a William Blake poem from the first decade of the 1800s.
West Indies are the only multi-national team in international cricket, and in lieu of a national anthem, their players stand in attention to a version of David Rudder's stirring "Rally Round the West Indies".
Opening act
Cricket broadcasting's most iconic tune is, of course, Brian Bennett's New Horizons, which accompanied Channel Nine's coverage of the sport for four decades. The tune heralded the arrival of every Australian summer, and thousands of cricket fans in the subcontinent woke up to it in the early hours of the morning. It has had several versions, most of which are compiled in this package.
The tune that accompanied the BBC's cricket broadcasts originated in an American R&B act from the 1960s. Ten Sports, meanwhile, put together a pitch-perfect intro for its coverage of West Indies cricket, making great use of the club mix of Bob Marley's "Sun is Shining".
A song for everyone
The history of official tournament anthems in cricket got off to a rocky start when Dave Stewart's "All Over the World" was released at the most inopportune moment, the day after hosts England exited the 1999 World Cup.
The subcontinent has produced some of the most memorable anthems - case in point the Hindi song "De Ghuma Ke" from the 2011 World Cup, which was also released in Bengali and Sinhala. The 2014 World T20's "Char Chokka Hoi Hoi", meanwhile, became a favourite for flash mobs among the Bangladeshi diaspora.
And while it wasn't an official anthem, Cryptic Fate's "Cholo Bangladesh", released in 2002, remains a stadium favourite to this day, standing apart with its strong lyrics and inspirational quality.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84