There are few cultural events that have come to ring in an Australian summer as much as music festivals and the cricket. Whether it’s the sound of leather on willow or the constant rhythm of a festival both sounds ring in summer louder than a field of cicadas. As we delve deeper into an ongoing Ashes series, we decided it was time to look at when these two diverse worlds have come together.
The two have been quite content for the most part to stay in their lanes, but over their long history, there have been moments where the two have crossed over. At times this has been horrific, intentionally hilarious, unintentionally hilarious and at other times have become iconic hits that have seeped into the public consciousness.
10cc – Dreadlock Holiday
You can’t really mention music and cricket crossing over without mentioning 10cc’s 1978 hit, “Dreadlock Holiday”. The song was a hit on release scoring number one on the UK charts and reaching number 2 here in Australia. It’s classic refrain “I don’t like cricket oh no/ I love it” being by far the most memorable part of a song that has mildly offensive racist about a visit to the Caribbean as a tourist. It also was responsible for spawning possibly the greatest character introduction ever in television.
Sherbert – Howzat!
While conversations about Daryl Braithwaite may currently all be angled the definitive pinnacle of a pop song Horses, he had another iconic smash hit with his original group Sherbert. Howzat became a definitive hit of the countdown years and raced away to Number One on both the Australian and NZ charts and went on to chart in the Top 5 in the UK. The tune is a kiss-off to an ex with the appeal call of howzat a slightly more eloquent statement than “fuck off back to the pavilion”.
The Duckworth Lewis Method
While cricket has slipped itself into a few hit pop singles, there hadn’t been a band that dedicated their whole output to songs about cricket. Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy and the frontman of Pugwash Thomas Walsh met and bonded allegedly over a mutual love of ELO and cricket. Naming themselves after the process used to calculate the winner on a rain-affected day’s play (now the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern Method, for you cricket nerds).
They have released not one, but two full length records themed purely around the gentleman’s game. They combine synth rock and orchestral pop to cover topics on the game ranging from Warnie’s ball of the century, called “Jiggery Buggery” to Shahid Afridi’s aggressive batting style “Boom Boom Afridi” which features classic recordings of David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd in commentary. It really is as peculiar a concept as could come along, but is genuinely funny and features some quite adept musicianship that takes it further than just the initial joke.
Six and Out – Can’t Bowl Can’t Throw
With Six and Out we have our first example of cricket bleeding into the music industry. It was simpler times back in the year 2000 when people were that impressed that Brett Lee could send a ball down the pitch at 160km an hour that they let him go and form a band with his brother and a bunch of other Cricket NSW journeymen to release a novelty single. The even more surprising thing was that it went on to crack the ARIA charts. “Can’t Bowl Can’t Throw” was themed around the controversy of someone who appeared to be Shane Warne uttering “can’t bowl can’t throw’ into the stump mic referring to Scott Muller as he played the second and final test of his career.
The song and its film clip is amazing levels of cringe worthy, with the most amusing part of the tune that Brett Lee while featuring at the forefront of the group and the video doesn’t even deliver the lead vocals. That duty is taken up by Australian cricket cult icon Richard Chee Quee. When his later forays into music are taken into consideration, it’s easy to imagine why.
Dwayne “DJ” Bravo – Champion
The Trinidadian cricketer has had a considerable career, which has included playing 40 tests, captaining the West Indies in all three formats and winning two world T20 titles. After also having a crack at a couple of Bollywood appearances, he also released his own single. “Champion” is a dancehall themed song where Bravo gets to celebrate the West Indies victory in the 2016 T20 world cup. He proceeds to call out legends of Windies cricket, Chris Gayle gets checked in twice. He then fills the rest of the song out with other public figures including Serena Williams and Barak Obama.
Mark Butcher – The Mark Butcher Band
The former England opening batsmen has donned many caps since a wrist injury ended his cricketing career. The most notable of these has been his work as a columnist covering the game. He’s also committed a lot of time into his music. Having released an album in 2003 he has earned pundits from the highest points, with Eric Clapton having referred to it as “great stuff”.
Butcher has quietly worked away at his career since in a polite manner, not aggressively leveraging his cricket career and pushing himself into the novelty realm. “Put Some Soul In It” is far from as cringe worthy as other cricketers who’ve had a crack at a music career.
The Maccabees – Felix White
As The Maccabees sadly wrap up what has been a wonderful career guitarist Felix White has dedicated his new-found spare time to cricket. Thankfully he hasn’t dragged his mates down to the nets to deliver endless throw-downs in the hope of bagging a county contract. He has instead picked up a column (https://www.wisden.com/stories/my-golden-summer-1999) with cricketing bible Wisden where he has conducted some wonderfully insightful interviews with former players.