All Out Cricket: The Duckworth Lewis Method Interview

An interview with Neil and Thomas from 2009 with All Out Cricket.


THE INTERVIEW: The Duckworth Lewis Method

Looking for a soundtrack to your Ashes summer? Look no further than The Duckworth Lewis Method.

The whimsical work of Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy) and Thomas Walsh(Pugwash), the album is a 12-song celebration of everything weird, wonderful and unique about the greatest of all games. Question is, why are two Irishmen bothering with cricket?

What possessed you to put together an entire album of songs about cricket?

Neil Hannon: Good question. If I’m honest, it was a bit of a drunken idea.
When we first discussed it, we never expected it to be something we’d actually release, but we both love cricket (and E.L.O.) so we thought, Why not? I’ve probably blown what little credibility I had left, but hey! I think it will make people smile.

Thomas Walsh: We just love the game and its history. And, broadly speaking, it’s been untapped as a musical subject. Dave Stewart did a song for the ’99 World Cup but it came out the day after England went out of the competition!

What is it about the game that appeals to you?

NH: It appeals to the whimsical and romantic in me. And I think there’s an innate eccentric Englishness and a slightly pointless side to cricket,and that works well in music. For me,cricket is a perfect metaphor for life:it goes on for a long time and never comes to a conclusion, but it’s really good fun.

TW: I love the fact that you can be 90 years old and still be a novice of the game. And I think a lot of people don’t realise the power and speed as well as the skill of cricket. There’s nothing else like it. I mean, what other game can last for five days but still hinge on the last minute of the final day? Cricket is just so cool.

Did you do much research?

NH: There was some, but we didn’t want to make the record to show people how much we knew about cricket. That would have been pretty dry! Besides, I don’t really know that much. Some of the songs, like Jiggery Pokery [about Shane Warne’s ‘ball of century], which is a blow-by-blow account of one delivery, needed a bit more reading around, but songs like Sweet Spot, well, that’s about something besides cricket.

TW: We went to the history books to pick out a few stories. In Gentlemen and Players we talk about a guy who knocks off the bails with his top hat and apparently that’s true. We were also attracted by the language of cricket and stumbled across some words we’d never heard of before. Check out ‘Panglossian’ in Mason on the Boundary.

So: The Duckworth Lewis Method?

NH: I had my notebook out and we were brainstorming in the pub, going through some cricketing terminology. Someone said ‘Duckworth-Lewis’ and it just flicked a switch.

Who decided who would be ‘Duckworth’, and who ‘Lewis’?

NH: I decided for Thomas, I knew he’d want to be Duckworth. And Lewis suits me more, anyway. Kind of like Lewis, in Inspector Morse… maybe.

Can you promote a cricket album?

NH: Well we’ve done a few shows of a kind and we were contracted to busk, as it were, at the Oval for one of Surrey’s Twenty20 games. I think people were wandering past thinking, “What the hell’s going on?”

TW: The best part was when we got to sit in the TMS box for a whole day. Forget Spearmint Rhino or a bag of cocaine; all we wanted to do was go to the cricket and hang out in the TMS box. It’s the most rock ‘n’ roll thing we could have done.

How’s it gone down back home?

NH: The popularity of cricket has risen 200 per cent in Ireland in recent times, to the point where it’s now a really obscure game! But seriously, I think it’s made a bit of an impact. It’s certainly brought a few people out of the woodwork who wouldn’t have admitted to liking the game.

TW: Irish people are so stupid with the game (so stupid in general, but particularly with cricket!). So I was really proud that since we’ve done a bit of media a few people have taken an interest in the game. But it’s not really about Ireland. We’ve done our stuff over here; this record is for anyone that wants it.

And what about a concept album based on another sport?

NH: Croquet? Tiddlywinks? No, I think this is a one off. Perhaps in another five years time we’ll return to the crease, as it were, for another cricket album… when the invitations to cricket matches dry up!

TW: What about basketball? Perhaps Britney Spears could do that. An album about snooker? Pot Black Blues? Cleaning the Ball? Too boring.

Now for the Ashes prediction. What do you reckon?

TW: I know Neil thinks we’re going to go well but, with it possibly being Ponting’s last hurrah in England, I’m not so sure. You can never be too confident with the Aussies and there’s always the possibility of a middle-order collapse. I think England will have to be on the front foot from the start. Let’s say 2-1 England. Just!

The Duckworth Lewis Method and the single The Age of Revolution (digital only) are out now.

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