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When not playing cricket, they played music

Last updated on: August 19, 2010 00:06 IST

'I was a musician who used cricket'

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Bikash Mohapatra uncovers cricketers who are/were as good with their music, if not better

This article pertains to cricketers-turned-musicians.

It's certainly not a switch of career for these players, but more of a hobby.

It's just that some take it up with avid interest and get noticed in the bargain.

AB de Villiers is the latest name to join the fray, and the prime reason while we are putting together this piece.

We will come back to the South African's latest endeavour later. (The news is already out in any case).

But, first, we take this opportunity to focus on a few cricketers who were/are as good with their music, if not better.

There are many instances of a sportsman, particularly in basketball and tennis, having alternate profiles as musicians.

In cricket, though, the examples are few and far between. 

India's very own Sanjay Manjrekar recorded a solo Indipop album, called Rest Day, a few years back but never took to music on a regular basis.

So let's look at the few significant ones.

Brett Lee

The Australian fast bowler began his musical journey as part of the rock band Six & Out.

He played bass guitar for the band that also has as its members former international cricketers like Gavin Robertson and Shane Lee (Brett's brother).

Four years back, Lee went a step further, recording a duet - called You're the One - with the legendary Asha Bhonsle.

The duet, part of the latter's Asha and Friends' album, reached number two position on the Indian music charts.

Lee continues with his passion (music), and a few days back announced his intention to tour India for live shows with his new band, White Shoe Theory.

The band has already booked eight shows, and if Lee is to be believed, he is quite serious about music.

"I've always joked that I was a musician who used his sport to prop himself up," Lee was quoted as saying recently.


Image: Brett Lee
Photographs: Reuters
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Butcher's passion for music has earned him a few accolades

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Mark Butcher

Mark Butcher had a seven-year career when he played 71 Tests, made eight centuries and averaged close to 35.

However, his passion for music also earned him a few accolades.

Butcher, a guitarist and singer, has performed at the Royal Albert Hall.

In 2007, he partnered songwriter Sarah Brightman on the second series of the BBC reality singing show Just the Two of Us.

The show showcased Butcher's appreciable guitar-playing ability and he and his partner came third overall.

Butcher also played at former teammate Ben Hollioake's funeral.

You're Never Gone, a song he wrote in tribute to Hollioake, was included in his debut album that was released in 2008.


Image: England cricketers John Crawley and Mark Butcher (right) play their guitars in front of Bob Marley

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Swann happens to be a lead singer

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Graeme Swann

When he isn't busy spinning a web around his opponents, Graeme Swann takes to his passion: singing.

In fact, the spinner is a disciple of Britpop, with a particular reverence for Oasis.

Swann is the lead singer of the rock band Dr Comfort and the Lurid Revelations.

The band, which also includes Jim Hemmings (son of the legendary Eddie Hemmings), plays cover songs in gigs around Nottinghamshire.

Andy Afford, a former Nottinghamshire spinner who incidentally plays guitar with the band, describes Swann as '60 per cent front man and 40 per cent singer'.


Image: Graeme Swann

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And quiet played the Don

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Sir Don Bradman

You aren't surprised? Are you?

The legendary Australian, besides his cricketing exploits, was also a good musician.

Bradman was blessed with a flair for the piano and recorded several songs in the 1930s, notably Every Day Is A Rainbow For Me.

'I didn't realise that not only could he play the piano but he was a composer," said the Australian cabaret singer Kamahl, adding, 'Music played a bigger part in his life than most people ever believed.'

We are still looking out for a few more of his compositions.

Can anybody help?


Image: Sir Donald Bradman

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Ambrose plays bass guitar

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Curtly Ambrose

This one isn't as hard to believe.

For Curtly Ambrose belongs to the land that gave the world calypso and reggae music.

The Antiguan took 405 Test wickets and his partnership with Courtney Walsh was deadly - they shared 421 wickets in the 49 Tests they played together.

But if the usually reticent Ambrose is to be believed, music and basketball (not cricket) were always his true loves.

The result.

The Big Bad Dread and the Baldhead.

That's the name of the seven-piece Antiguan reggae band where Ambrose nows plays bass guitar.

Giving him company is former teammate and ex-West Indies captain Richie Richardson.


Image: Curtly Ambrose

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Olonga has a good voice

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Henry Olonga

In his international career, Henry Olonga made the headlines quite a few times.

And once his career was cut short, thanks to all the turmoil in Zimbabwean cricket, he took to his other love: singing.

And his voice was so good that he ended up winning a television show.

On 13 October 2006, Olonga won The All Star Talent Show, the television channel Five's reality show.

Amongst those he beat were famous names like Jodie Marsh and Carol Thatcher.

Olonga later in that year released his first album titled Aurelia.


Image: Henry Olonga

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AB de Villiers is the latest entrant

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AB de Villiers

And finally to the man with whom we began this feature.

Abraham de Villiers.

The South African batsman has collaborated with Ampie du Preez and produced the single Show Them Who You Are.

The album, if reports are to be believed, is receiving many accolades and plenty of airplay on South African radio.

"His (de Villiers) album is also being marketed to millions of potential listeners on the addictive internet game site, Stick Cricket," Sydney Morning Herald reported.

So who will be the next cricketer to join the musical bandwagon?

If you know of any, tell us.


Image: AB de Villiers

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