Caught by the River

The Duckworth/Lewis Method

19th August 2009


“Duckworth/Lewis method n a system designed for calculating revised targets for either team in rain-interrupted limited-overs games.” The Wisden Dictionary Of Cricket by Michael Rundell

I’m not (yet) an angler but I’ve been going to the test match with my Dad for nearly 20 years and I imagine one can probably derive some of the same pleasures from a day caught by the boundary as one caught by the river. Specifically test cricket though. Not that I’m not a fan of the newer forms of the game, I’m all for them. But the 5 day format is the one that most enthralls. Who’s winning? is a commonly asked question of those watching test matches – No one, is more often than not the answer. And so, I guess, it is with angling. If there is action and tension, athletic catches, stumps flying and sixes hit then great. Really though, no bother if not. We’re happy to be there soaking it up.

So Thomas Walsh and former Divine Comedy singer Neil Hannon have assumed the pseudonyms Duckworth and Lewis and made a record of cricket themed songs. It’s a lot of fun. The lore and language of cricket is florid and daft enough to provide fertile lyrical ground. Some of the tunes are about real cricketing events; “Jiggery Pokery” retells the story of Shane Warne’s “Ball Of The Century” which removed Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993 and paraphrases Graham Gooch’s line that “If it had been a cheese roll it would never have got past him” – surely the only funny thing ever to come out of that hangdog mouth of his. The way the story is told reminds me of Lord Beginner’s “Victory Calypso”.

“The Age Of Revolution” deftly traces crickets history outside of England from it’s colonial beginnings to the rise of Indian cricket as the biggest financial force in world sport. “Always denied by the English gentry, now we’re driving Bentleys and playing 20/20” Some of them just take cricketing terms and make a tune from them. “The Sweet Spot” is a glam-rock-sex-jam (there may be a veiled cricketing reference in there but I can’t spot it). “The Nightwatchman” is a torch song but the lyrics apply equally for a lover as much as a real nightwatchman, the sacrificial batsman, “I’d give it all and more to be by your side in the morning light”. The album closes at “The End Of The Over” and “Duckworth And Lewis are out”

Bits of it kind of remind me of “Love Kraft” by Super Furry Animals. A very unexpected comparison. Meeting Mr Miandad is like one of the dafter bits off The White Album. Whatever, all of it is loads better than Phil Tuffnells new single. I’m a fan of Tuffers, they don’t make too many cricketers like him any more but this song to the tune of Two Little Boys complete with a rap in the middle is worse than awful. Everyone should check this out too. Not a cricket song but a cricket video – Roots Manuva’s Again and Again.

I’ve really enjoyed listening to it today and fizzing with expectation about the Ashes decider that starts this week. Let’s hope the weather and Flintoffs knee hold out.

Raf Rundell