Saturday, February 13, 2010


The Duckworth Lewis Method The Duckworth Lewis Method
What's this? Why it is a concept album about cricket by Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy and some other geezer from a band called Pugwash. I suppose in a way it is Neil Hannon's equivalent of that Baader Meinhof record by Luke Haines (except that is about sport, not terrorism).

It is funny how you randomly take against people... for a while I used to like the Divine Comedy, but then I arbitrarily decided that I hated them and their stupid singer. If you had told me a year ago that I would be buying a record by my near neighbour Mr Hannon then I would have laughed in your face. Now who is laughing? Not me, not since my interest in cricket was picqued by radio coverage of the Ashes last summer.

The record features a number of whimsical songs about the great game. I get the impression that some of these may refer to celebrated incidents in the cricketing history. The whole thing is evocative of the jolly-good-show clichés one associates with the sport. It is all a bit languid, and I could imagine it would make a nice accompaniment to some cucumber sandwiches and pimms.

I am not entirely comfortable with the way the record goes on about how cricket is a game for "gentlemen" – it does remind me of the sport's posho associations. But I am interested in the record's blurry sense of nationality. As you know, Neil Hannon is Irish, the son of a Church of Ireland* bishop. The record tends to treat the English cricket team as "we", as though he is denying or downplaying his Irishness. There is one song, though, where he does talk about playing cricket as a child with his brother, while on holidays in the Irish seaside town of Arklow**. There is a line there about cricket being the opposite of everything he hates about the world. You could endlessly analyse that. At one level, cricket embodies the lost qualities of sportsmanship and gentlemanly competition etc***. Cricket is, however, the quintessential "garrison game", the one foreign sport it is hard to imagine a true Gael ever playing. Is Hannon here implicitly casting himself as an outsider, beyond the mainstream of Irish society? Maybe this is part of what I find interesting about the game.

*The Church of Ireland is our equivalent of the Church of England or the USA's Episcopalians; it is important to clarify this point, because Hannon's being a C of I bishop's son establishes him as being a bit posh, while if he was the son of a Catholic bishop then his very existence would be scandalous.

** The town that gave us Roisín Murphy of rubbish band Moloko and more recently of underwhelming solo records.

*** I'm not sure where body-line bowling and ladies' cricket fit in here.

Henry Blofeld

Jonathan Agnew and friend


Anonymous said...

i am sorry, but... "Roisín Murphy of rubbish band Moloko and more recently of underwhelming solo records"...?! you for real?!

ian said...

It is not directly relevant, but yes, I am 4REAL.