Wednesday, 28 October 2009

David Shepherd 1940–2009

The news that David Shepherd has died saddened me, as he always seemed to represent what was good about the game.

Known to be one of the best umpires in the game, and known to be fair-minded, he was universally respected.

His ruddy cheeks and portly stance earned him the nickname The Fat Butcher from my younger brother, whose Cricketer's Who's Who Shep once signed.
Although I never met him he once umpired a Durham game at Hartlepool and apparently spent most of the time regaling the club with stories of cricket at both international and village levels.

Alonside a lovely photo of Shep, here's what David Hopps in The Guardian says of him:

He was a romantic, sentimental man, especially when it came to cricket, and resented what he saw as examples of greed creeping into the modern game.

Shep first came to my attention when I was very young as his superstitious tics – skipping on multiples of 11 – stood out. Unlike some other umpires in the modern game it did not seem attention-seeking or affected.

I'll always remember Shepherd like this – the very best of the whimsical, gentle lunacy of cricket.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Duckworth-Lewis Method - Meeting Mr Miandad

There's a full review of The Duckworth-Lewis Method's album, The Duckworth-Lewis Method, scheduled for some time next century but in the meantime I thought I'd post this music video for first single Mr Miandad.

It's probably the best mix of whimsy upbeat chart-friendly stuff that's vaguely about cricket on the album, which is presumably why it's been afforded a single release and music video.

Because while the DLM may guarantee some strong album sales and a likely devoted live following I can't imagine there's a huge market for chart-busting singles.

I actually fancy The Age of Revolution is a wittier and funkier slice of pop and Mason on the Boundary a more melancholy dreamy evocation of the gentle spirit of cricket, but then again the former is about the paradigm shift in cricket politics between former empire and former subjects, while the latter features a spoken section about Denis Compton by Matt Berry alongside the phrase 'hopelessly panglossian'.

And, of course, Jiggery Pokery is the funniest track on the album, galumphing along with all manner of cricket puns and pay-offs - but how commercial can a single narrated by Mike Gatting about a ripping leg break be?

Nevertheless the album is praiseworthy simply because it exists, such is the difficulty of crafting pop songs solely about cricket. On one hand nerdy and in-jokey references to cricket are a necessity to justify the album's moniker as a cricket concept album, one the other there needs to be some allowances for the non-cricket listeners.

Surprisingly it does. It's easy to imagine a sunny day at a summer festival, with the jauntier tracks giving way as evening creeps in to the sweeter, more relaxed songs.

But I don't think there'll be any more singles. So do enjoy Meeting Mr Miandad below, along with its basic but nontheless rather charming video.