The Good Funeral Guide Blog

When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease

Monday, 19 July 2010

Here’s a seasonal number (with apologies to US  and Scotch readers, to whom cricket probably makes no sort of sense at all). This is the song that DJ John Peel agreed with his producer, John Walters, would be played on the radio when he died. It didn’t happen. Walters died three years before (Peel played the song for him), but no one living was immediately aware of the request when Peel died. Andy Kershaw made up for the oversight in his Radio 3 tribute to Peel; he played it at the end. Lovely melancholy, elegiac brass band sounds to relish here.

Its mood resonates with these well-known lines of the enthusiastic opium eater Francis Thompson:

For the field is full of shades as I near a shadowy coast,

And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,

And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host

As the run stealers flicker to and fro,

To and fro:

O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago !

When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease

When the day is done, and the ball has spun, in the umpire’s pocket away
And all remains, in the groundsman’s pains for the rest of time and a day
There’ll be one mad dog and his master, pushing for four with the spin
On a dusty pitch, with two pounds six of willow wood in the sun

When an old cricketer leaves the crease, you never know whether he’s gone
If sometimes you’re catching a fleeting glimpse of a twelfth man at silly mid-on
And it could be Geoff, and it could be John, with a new ball sting in his tail
And it could be me, and it could be thee, and it could be the sting in the ale
Sting in the ale.

When an old cricketer leaves the crease, well you never know whether he’s gone
If sometimes you’re catching a fleeting glimpse of a twelfth man at silly mid-on
And it could be Geoff and it could be John, with a new ball sting in his tail
And it could be me and it could be thee, and it could be the sting in the ale
The sting in the ale.

When the moment comes and the gathering stands and the clock turns back to reflect
On the years of grace as those footsteps trace for the last time out of the act
Well this way of life’s recollection, the hallowed strip in the haze
The fabled men and the noonday sun are much more than just yarns of their days.

When an old cricketer leaves the crease, well you never know whether he’s gone
If sometimes you’re catching a fleeting glimpse of a twelfth man at silly mid-on
And it could be Geoff and it could be John with a new ball sting in his tail
And it could be me and it could be thee and it could be the sting in the ale
The sting in the ale.

When an old cricketer leaves the crease, well you never know whether he’s gone
If sometimes you’re catching a fleeting glimpse of a twelfth man at silly mid-on
And it could be me and it could be thee.

Geoff is Boycott (you guessed?). John is John Snow, the fast bowler.

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