On the Front Foot: Butcher, the master of rock and soul, has first album out

Click to follow
The Independent Online

What cricketers do after they are no longer cricketers is always a fascination.

It applies to footballers as well but not much in this space (though boyhood hero and World Cup winner Roger Hunt became a haulage contractor). Mark Butcher, erstwhile England batsman, creator of one of the most memorable Ashes innings, IoS columnist and once Test captain, has designs on being a rock musician. Indeed, he was a rock musician of sorts when he was scoring 4,288 Test runs but these days he is serious.

For years, Butcher and chums have been a fixture at the Professional Cricketers' Association annual bash. Inevitably they bring the house down with a vibrant mix of rock and soul. They are the themes running through his first album, self-penned, self-played and self-released. Songs from the Sun House is now out and Butcher has several gigs lined up around London to promote it. He has been at the Third Test, lending his brand of sharp insight and verbal dexterity to the BBC Radio coverage. The well-pressed grey suit and silk tie did not quite accord with the image of pop god. It is always a pleasure to see Butcher, who hopes not to trade on his illustrious past to make his future. He wants the songs to stand up to neutral scrutiny. At 37 he is the right age for a ready-made grizzled man of rock.

ICC rick is Swann to forget

There was a hullabaloo after Graeme Swann was omitted from the list of nominations for world cricketer of the year. Any attempt at justification for the oversight simply compounded it. Either the International Cricket Council's expert panel discussed his candidacy and overlooked his claim, which makes it possible to doubt its members' judgement, or it forgot him altogether, which brings into question their credentials. In the period which counted, Swann took 49 Test wickets, second only to one other player, 28 one-day wickets (making him the top-ranked spinner in the ICC's own rankings) and was also an integral part of the winning World Twenty20 team.

Following his omission, the ICC grovelled an apology, but not before panel member Angus Fraser attempted to explain the thinking that there were 16 better cricketers in the world than Swann between August 2009 and August 2010. The least edifying part of the whole deal is that the England and Wales Cricket Board made robust representations on Swann's behalf to the ICC. It sets a worrying precedent and if they were backing Swann, why not Paul Collingwood, scorer of 603 Test runs at 53, 940 one-day runs at 47 and captain of overwhelmingly the best team at the World Twenty20? The ECB should have let it go: the awards always lacked clout and now they lack credibility.

Ramps is left embarrassed

Oh what harmless fun this kind of thing always causes. Adorning the walls at The Oval is a poster advertising coaching lessons at the ground (and boy do Surrey's players need them). The photograph used to illustrate this is of the county's most accomplished batsman, maker of 40,000 career runs, the most correct right-handed batsman of this and many another generation. And Mark Ramprakash is shown in a left-handed pose.

No one-cap wonder

Wahab Riaz became Pakistan's 202nd Test cricketer at The Oval and their 13th debutant since the start of 2009. If this reflects the constant turmoil, it is surprising that England, worshippers at the altar of continuity, have handed out nine caps in that time. Will Amjad Khan, Michael Carberry and James Tredwell, however, bring membership of the one-cap wonder club to 91?