Dotty about ditties in the dot-ball game

Cricket Diary; One-man stand

At the risk of introducing a discordant note into this sporting summer it seems unfair that the past month has been dominated by football songs. The steadfast refusal of "Football's Coming Home" to slide graciously down the charts and out of earshot has been particularly dispiriting.

It is time to redress the balance and remind ourselves that songs were being sung about cricket when football was still in long pants. Few Victorian gatherings round the parlour piano could have been complete withoutsome appropriate ditty, such as William Clarke's refrain, sung to the tune of "Rule Britannia":

Then success to cricket, 'tis a noble game

It's patronised by royalty, and men of wealth and fame.

As Clarke was in his pomp as a lethal underarm bowler (his wickets cost barely 10 runs each) around 1850, the history of cricket songs is obviously a long one. The world's leading expert on the subject is probably David Rayvern Allen, who wrote a book devoted to it.

"Throughout most of its existence cricket has attracted the attentions of song writers," he said. "There are more examples from the past because I suppose it used to be more of a national game which touched more people than it does now. But songs still get written."

Indeed, Allen's favourite is not from the days of music halls and country house parties. Nor is it one of the joyous West Indian calypsos. This leaves out of the reckoning the faintly obsequious "Cricket - The Song of the Centuries" which was penned 101 years ago in honour of W G Grace's hundredth hundred.

He also discounts "The Ashes Song", written in 1971, one of those distant eras when England beat Australia. Ray Illingworth's side had returned triumphant from their tour and went into the recording studio to deliver the following:

We've got the Ashes back home, We've got them in the urn

The Aussies have had them 12 years So we've got to have our turn.

Next summer we can replace the figure 12 with the figure 10. Allen's top cricket song is the decidedly lyrical number from 1975, written and performed by Roy Harper in homage to John Snow and Geoff Boycott, "When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease". It is a romantic's song which affirms that "the fabled men and the noonday sun are much more than the yarns of their days". Those for whom the delights of "Football's Coming Home" have palled will therefore be thrilled to hear that "When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease" will feature on a compact disc of cricket songs shortly to be released by the Lord's Taverners. The disc has been assembled by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Green and also includes oddities like the calypso "Who's Grovelling Now" and a number by the Indian batsman Vinod Kambli.

Stilgoe, himself a composer of cricketing ditties such as "Sticky Wicket Blues" (as in "got that damn shame it ain't cricket Blues"), said: "This is a disc purely from the archives. If there is a second it's possible that we could revive some of the older songs not on record." We owe it to the game to make sure it goes to No 1 and back again.

ONE of the joys of watching Glamorgan play Pakistan last week - the Pakistani batting apart - was the constitution of the home team. It fair put a lump in the throat of the county's versatile and prolific former bowler, Don Shepherd.

Looking out on the greensward of Pontypridd, Shepherd, taker of 2,218 wickets (the most ever by a bowler not to have played Test cricket) and a son of Port Eynon, noticed that his team contained 10 Welshmen.

True, David Hemp was born in Bermuda but his dad is called Clive and he was brought up and educated in Wales. And though Owen Parkin was born in Coventry and schooled in Bourne- mouth his name is redolent of the valleys while his father is called Vernon and his brother Morgan.

"It is wonderful to see," Shepherd said. "We must never forget that this team isn't just representing a county, it represents a country."

KENT'S all-rounder, Mark Ealham, is, of course, the first member of his family to play for England. His dad, Alan, was an outstanding county cricketer as batsman and fielder but never played for his country. Well, yes and no.

Ealham senior fielded as a substitute in the Jubilee Test against Australia at Lord's in 1977 and took two outstanding catches off Bob Willis and Derek Underwood. He "performed in his own brilliant way," reported Wisden.

FEW authors on cricket have been as prolific as David Rayvern Allen (see above). His output has included books on the broadcasting of the game and an anthology relating to Grace, but his imminent tome may be his most significant. It is to be called "Last Over" and will be a combination of biography and reminiscences of the doyen of cricket writers, now 89, E W Swanton.

KEVAN JAMES, the unsung Hampshire all-rounder, made history against India. First, he took four wickets in four balls, only the 31st player to do so, and then achieved a unique double by scoring a hundred. James, 35, recalled: "The first of the wickets was a rank bad ball down the leg side which our wicketkeeper Adi Aymes did exceptionally well to gather and complete a superb stumping. As for the hundred, I wasn't feeling very well at the start of the innings asI'd had some champagne the night before celebrating the wickets."

Suggested Topics
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game