Thursday’s report from the Telegraph on the topic of a city-based Twenty20 league coming as soon as 2018 confirmed the inevitable: a tournament to ape the flashy leagues of almost every other test-playing nation, particularly India and Australia, is incoming whether the existing county community likes it or not. How such a tournament would magically revive the fortunes of the domestic game remains to be seen, but its impending arrival is sure to fuel the growth of ‘cricketainment,’ that ugliest of portmanteaus.
For stubborn purists, there’s a fair bit of a professional Twenty20 experience to despise, yet perhaps the most consistently irritating, regardless of location, is the soundtrack. On any given evening, county grounds are filled with a jumbled mix of records picked, presumably by an ECB-guided hand, to inject energy into crowds, celebrate rare moments of cricketing magic like boundaries being hit and overs ending, and usually just annoy people who’ve actually turned out to watch some cricket.
To illustrate the absurdity of the situation, I travelled to the 1st Central County Ground in Hove last night to see Sussex host Glamorgan in the final NatWest T20 Blast game of the season. Though the match, which was meant to begin at 6:30, ended up overrun by rain, the four hours of music that accompanied it may have been the most frustrating element of it all.
If you wish to relive the experience, jump in the shower and hit play on the Spotify playlist that I’ve cleverly embedded at the bottom of the page so you have to scroll through to the end. It’s not particularly recommended.
17:52 – DNCE – ‘Cake By The Ocean’
We begin with a video documenting a recent disability day hosted by the club soundtracked by Nick ‘Jonas Brother’ Jonas and co.’s hit single about being ravishingly intimate on the beach. Strong start.
17:54 – Donna Summer – ‘I Feel Love’
As tends to be the way, I arrived at the ground just in time for rain to join me. The ironically-named Summer sounded muted and miserable through the drizzle.
17:58 – Shift K3Y – ‘I Know’
The first surprising pick of the evening was a minor hit in 2014, though a bland choice compared to ‘Touch’ and…those other ones he’s done.
18:00 – The Stooges – ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’
Odd mix, odd song, delayed toss. Pleasantly relieved when the moaning vocal doesn’t lead into 2011’s rejig by Russian house production ensembles Swanky Tunes and Hard Rock Sofa (which I had incorrectly assumed to be the original source of the lyrics).
18:02 – MGMT – ‘Kids’
This would usually make sense as enthusiastic children frolic around on the outfield in a lunch break practicing their off-drives under the sun, but this is a Thursday night Twenty20 in late July so there’s literally no chance of any of that happening.
18:09 – Derek & The Dominos – ‘Layla’
My knowledge of Eric Clapton is almost non-existent so I had no idea what a glorious band name he performed under. All it needs is pizza appended to be a very good band name indeed.
18:12 – Travis – ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’
BECAUSE THIS IS ENGLAND AND THAT’S WHAT OUR SUMMERS ARE LIKE.
18:16 – Gene Kelly – ‘Singin’ In The Rain’
Not the Mint Royale version. Very disappointing.
18:20 – Rihanna feat. Jay-Z – ‘Umbrella’
Could do with one. Also, I could make a decent Jay-Z if anybody wants to do this for karaoke.
18:23 – Justin Timberlake – ‘Cry Me A River’
And dehydrate myself immensely? No thanks.
18:28 – Ann Peebles – ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’
Some people have umbrellas up. It’s really not that bad.
18:30 – Bruno Mars – ‘It Will Rain’
I’m quite adamant that Bruno Mars’ music should be eradicated at every available opportunity. Right now, when there’s meant to be a game of cricket starting in front of me, the feeling has never been stronger.
18:34 – Supertramp – ‘It’s Raining Again’
That sax intro was the loudest thing they’ve played since DNCE.
18:38 – Duffy – ‘Rain On Your Parade’
Where are you, Duffy? What happened? I read something a few weeks back about the great Duffy vs. Adele war of 2008 and how her career was derailed by either a Diet Coke advert or a rushed second album that stunk of mediocrity. Now she’s even getting cut off by announcers for VTs of players bowling through a car door.
18:44 – Adele – ‘Set Fire To The Rain’
Whoever’s DJing tonight has clearly read that same article.
18:48 – Jimmy Cliff – ‘I Can See Clearly Now’
Nope, still raining.
18:51 – B.J. Thomas – ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head’
Far more accurate description.
18:56 – TLC – ‘Waterfalls’
19:01 – Groove Armada – ‘At The River’
Alright, this is a better option than Phoenix at this point of the evening.
19:04 – Bobby Darin – ‘Splish Splash’
Oh, how quickly a DJ’s good work can be unravelled.
19:06 – Garbage – ‘Only Happy When It Rains’
And we have a winner for the most appropriate band name of the night.
19:14 – Creedence Clearwater Revival – ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’
A couple of interruptions for a community outreach promo VT and an announcement of a new play start time, we’re back to plundering dad rock.
19:16 – The Wombats – ‘Let’s Dance To Joy Division’
Ooh, hello there. Spunky indie goofballs replace the tedious rain playlist.
19:18 – Robbie Williams – ‘Let Me Entertain You’
I refer you back to 19:04 and not just for the return of dodgy track transitions.
19:19 – Royal Blood – ‘Little Monster’
Local chaps at last, not that the 1st Central County Ground’s muffled speaker system is really up to the challenge.
19:22 – Storm Queen – ‘Look Right Through’ (MK Remix)
One of the mixes we have to thank for deep house becoming a part of the pop lexicon. Still quite a banger, really.
19:26 – Gala – ‘Freed From Desire’
Fortunately nobody’s yet drunk enough to humour it.
19:28 – Artful Dodger & Romina Johnson – ‘Movin’ Too Fast’
A welcome injection of garage to the night in one of the few songs I’ve ever previously had the desire to Shazam in one of these sporting waiting games.
19:32 – Kaiser Chiefs – ‘Ruby’
Comfortably fourth-best of the four Kaiser Chiefs songs I can recall. That includes the one I seem to remember from Gran Turismo 4 that I can’t remember the name of and actually wasn’t in the game. Fortunately, it gets cut short for Luke Wright to toss a coin in the air.
19:36 – X Ambassadors – ‘B.I.G.’
Shazam’s first outright failure of the evening doesn’t result in disaster, as the gravelly affair has easily searchable lyrics.
19:40 – La Roux – ‘In For The Kill’ (Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey Remix)
19:45 – The Chemical Brothers feat. Q-Tip – ‘Galvanize’
Literally only four seconds of it but what a four seconds of music that was.
19:45 – ‘Sussex By The Sea’
Are we actually getting some cricket? Probably. Will Sussex go up to win the cup this year? Almost certainly not. Is that me carrying a bassoon in this video? Indubitably.
19:49 – Fatboy Slim – ‘Right Here, Right Now’
19:57 – ‘The Medley’
First sighting of the medley – a vicious concoction of Aerosmith, Spice Girls, Will Young, Gotye, and some superfluous sound effects. Each song individually could bid a batsman a fair farewell. Instead, there’s this nonsense.
19:58 – Zedd feat. Hayley Williams – ‘Stay The Night’
Yes, I am staying. Thanks for asking, Hayley.
19:59 – The Vaccines – ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’
Colin Ingram feathers it behind for the first four runs off the bat. Not exactly destructive, though I’m not exactly complaining.
20:02 – Yolanda Be Cool & DCup – ‘We No Speak Americano’
A big six for Ingram to end over 2 is smartly taken by a tall chap in the stands. Needs more sax.
20:06 – U2 – ‘Elevation’
Ingram elevates the ball enough for Harry Finch to have no problem snatching it on the way down. I see what they did there.
20:06 – Wretch 32 – ‘6 Words’
Those six words must be Glamorgan, Batsman, Aneurin, Henry, Thomas, and Donald.
20:07 – Baha Men – ‘Who Let The Dogs Out?’
Best left in 2000’s Rugrats In Paris: The Movie, it’s a favoured refrain to get the crowd hashtag-pumped.
20:07 – will.i.am feat. Eva Simons – ‘This Is Love’
COME ON. You can at least try to play tolerable music.
20:08 – Wilkinson – ‘Afterglow’
BECKY HILL KLAXON. We’ll get along well, DJ.
20:10 – The Everly Brothers – ‘Bye Bye Love’
Off goes David Lloyd for 7 with my ears for 30 seconds.
20:11 – Vampire Weekend – ‘A-Punk’
Perhaps an accurate description of Jacques Rudolph. Who’s to say?
20:12 – Wilkinson feat. Wretch 32 – ‘Flatline’
Ah, the DJ just found Wilkinson on Spotify. Carry on. I’ll just be here quietly celebrating pop magic.
20:15 – Otto Knows – ‘Million Voices’
Donald goes to a fantastic catch by Matt Machan and gets played off to a fantastic song by Otto Jettmann. More of this sort of thing.
20:16 – Wilkinson feat. Talay Riley – ‘Dirty Love’
Careful now, we get the picture. Drum and bass is a thing, so stop the Wilkinson before it gets to that new one.
20:20 – U2 – ‘Vertigo’
That’s not what I meant. Don’t pull a Songs Of Innocence on us now.
20:22 – Tinie Tempah feat. Labrinth – ‘Frisky’
Frisky: an adjective that nobody has ever used to describe Graham Wagg’s batting until this moment.
20:23 – KC & The Sunshine Band – ‘That’s The Way (I Like It)’
George Garton takes a good return catch. I concur.
20:23 – U2 – ‘Beautiful Day’
20:24 – AC/DC – ‘Thunderstruck’
Not the good part, though.
20:24 – KDA feat. Tinie Tempah & Katy B – ‘Turn The Music Louder (Rumble)’
See, you can play grand dance-pop instead of meandering classic rock nonsense. After all, Twenty20 is for the cool kidz…right?
20:26 – Gala – ‘Freed From Desire’
This time around, after a Will Beer over, the chanting begins.
20:28 – Run-DMC feat. Aerosmith – ‘Walk This Way’
Andrew Salter, who wasn’t even born until 18 years after the original version of the song came out, loses two poles to Garton, who wasn’t even born until 11 years after this version of the song came out.
20:28 – Tinie Tempah feat. Zara Larsson – ‘Girls Like’
Still not a good song. Please stop trying.
20:30 – Tim Deluxe feat. Sam Obernik – ‘It Just Won’t Do’
Something often played at cricket that I now know how to identify and avoid.
20:31 – Tag Team – ‘Whoomp! (There It Is)’
20:31 – The Temper Trap – ‘Sweet Disposition’
20:34 – The Strokes – ‘Under Cover Of Darkness’
Decent song but somebody please buy 2011 Julian Casablancas some Strepsils.
20:39 – The Hives – ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’
An irritating Welsh man nearby puts down his umbrella in a delightful coincidence.
20:40 – The Heavy – ‘How You Like Me Now’
Quite a bit now I know what you are.
20:41 – Alice Cooper – ‘School’s Out’
Can’t believe they couldn’t find a Craig Meschede-specific edit.
20:41 – The Futureheads – ‘Hounds Of Love’
Lovely accent, that.
20:42 – Teddybears feat. Mad Cobra – ‘Cobrastyle’
One way to greet an erratic bouncer, I suppose.
20:44 – Taylor Swift – ‘Shake It Off’
Almost three hours I’ve been doing this and this is the first sighting of the Swizzmeister. Good restraint, DJ person.
20:45 – Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin – ‘Don’t You Worry Child’
Ah, consoling the bowler. How sweet.
20:45 – Sub Focus – ‘Close’
ZAYN? Is that you?
20:46 – Stevie Wonder – ‘Superstition’
“Writing’s on the wall,” he sings, so why are Shaun Tait and Michael Hogan still in?
20:48 – Steve Angello & Laidback Luke feat. Robin S – ‘Show Me Love’
A snippet so good they play it twice.
20:49 – ‘The Medley’
Hogan holes out, Glamorgan all gone for 101, our second medley of the night. This is good news, because some games have it at EVERY SINGLE WICKET AND IT DRIVES ME MAD.
20:51 – Sigma feat. Labrinth – ‘Higher’
Thought we were back with Wilko for a moment.
20:54 – The Chemical Brothers feat. Q-Tip – ‘Galvanize’
After the four seconds of glory earlier, finally we get the Q-Tip of the iceberg.
20:58 – Fatboy Slim – ‘Right Here, Right Now’
Déjà vu, or some such.
21:00 – 2 Unlimited – ‘Get Ready For This’
Chris Nash has a bash and gets four runs.
21:01 – ‘The A-Team Theme’
Nash has a slash and gets four leg byes.
21:03 – Skrillex feat. Sirah – ‘Bangarang’
I know it’s the end of the first over that you’re playing music to celebrate, but ‘Bangarang’ after a gently nurdled single is exactly the kind of silly that these hundreds of words are intended to illustrate.
21:07 – Supergrass – ‘Alright’
Nash has a thrash and gets four more.
21:07 – Armand Van Helden feat. Duane Harden – ‘You Don’t Know Me’
Nash has a clash and gets caught by Lloyd.
21:08 – The Black Eyed Peas – ‘Pump It’
Trust me, Phil Salt doesn’t need that kind of encouragement to play a bonkers innings.
21:09 – Blur – ‘Song 2’
Ends the second over, conveniently.
21:10 – C+C Music Factory feat. Freedom Williams – ‘Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)’
21:12 – Chic – ‘Good Times’
And now, we dance.
21:16 – Dizzee Rascal & Armand Van Helden – ‘Bonkers’
My grandma heard this at a game a few years back and found it amusing. Glad to hear it’s still in rotation.
21:17 –DJ Fresh & Diplo feat. Dominique Young Unique – ‘Earthquake’
Still hideous. So hideous, in fact, that rain stops play an over short of reaching the minimum number required for a match with a result.
21:19 – Coldplay – ‘Hymn For The Weekend’
But it’s Thursday.
21:22 – T. Rex – ‘Get It On’
Odd song to play as the covers go back off. In the end, Tait only bowls one more ball until they return.
21:24 – Mumford & Sons – ‘Ditmas’
Bring back the the banjos. Please. This is both bland and generic.
21:27 – Chase & Status feat. Liam Bailey – ‘Blind Faith’
To be fair, it’s what I often bring to Sussex games.
21:30 – The Beatles – ‘Hey Jude’
Another cue for the near-bar sections of the crowd to make themselves heard, but the escalating state of pitch coverage dampens what could have been.
21:34 – Oasis – ‘Wonderwall’
Worst transition of the night brings us in half way through the final word.
21:34 – Tom Jones – ‘Delilah’
Unless this is an attempt to satisfy the Glamorgan contingent, you can stop this now, Sussex. Tom’s played his gig and you don’t have any more tickets to sell.
21:36 – Oasis – ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’
At least we get 80% of a first chorus this time.
21:37 – The Who – ‘Baba O’Riley’
Still can’t get past the intro sounding like it could be a CHVRCHES song.
21:42 – Lenny Kravitz – ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’
Despite spending the last four or so hours writing it down every few minutes, I’ve just realised how late it is.
21:46 – LunchMoney Lewis – ‘Bills’
Is this some weird apology for this evenings soundtrack? I will happily do this for free if you want me rather than somebody who has bills to pay and mouths to feed.
21:47 – Omi – ‘Cheerleader’ (Felix Jaehn Remix)
My hand is very cold. Help.
21:48 – Major Lazer & DJ Snake feat. MØ – ‘Lean On’
Look, this match is clearly over. Just play ‘Cold Water.’ It’s both new and appropriate.
21:49 – Toploader – ‘Dancing In The Moonlight’
We are officially done here. Time to wiggle to the bus and a cup of tea.
So, what does it all show? What does it mean? Where does it leave us?
Partially, it shows that I need more constructive tasks with which to occupy myself during Twenty20 squibs – and, thanks to Sussex’s lack of success, that doesn’t need to be dealt with until next May. Back on topic, though, properly looking at what is being played depicts a confused muddle of things that were popular a few years ago, classic rock for people who were listening to music when vinyl wasn’t a quaint niche, and boorish anthems for the inebriated sections of the crowd.
Though this exercise probably made me pay more attention to the incoherent jumble of a cricket soundtrack than anybody else ever has, it’s evident that nobody enters the ground to listen to it and very little, if any, serves to enhance the game of cricket that should remain the centre of attention. As we move onto the next generation and preen the format for widespread adoption, a focus on the fans and the action they actually come to see would be rather welcome.