When cricket was a classical sport

When cricket was a classical sport


norman lebrecht

December 05, 2019

In our tribute to the heroic England fast bowler Bob Willis, who died yesterday, we mentioned his love of Wagner.

His captain in 1981, Mike Brearley, was a Beethoven man who hummed opening bars of a Razumovsky quartet as he faced the world’s fastest bowlers.

Does any cricketer today listen to classical music?

Has any of them heard of Beethoven?




  • John Borstlap says:

    Most of the cricketers I know think that Beethoven is a vegetable from south Wales.

  • Ned Keane says:

    Alastair Cook was a St Paul’s chorister. The Beethoven comment is classical snobbery at its worst.

  • Inversio Cancrizans says:

    Wasn’t the music Brearley hummed when facing Whispering Death et al the first movement second subject of Haydn’s String Quartet in D flat minor, Op 74 No 4 “The Duck” ?

    • John Kelly says:

      Harsh. I met Mike Brearley once and he told me grew a beard when England went down under to try to look a bit more intimidating. In spite of his ferocious intellect and gentlemanly demeanour, he was as fiercely competitive as anyone. And England’s best captain…….

    • Paul Dawson says:

      Given the pride he took in his widely acknowledged captaincy skills, I’d picture him singing “I’m the leader of the gang, I am”.

  • Robert Mitchell says:

    From my CBSO days I remember his love of Mahler, as well as facing him in the nets at Edgbaston.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    David Gower once skipped the post-match interview with the press since he had theatre tickets and didn’t want to miss the performance.

    The problem is that now players are expected to be sportsmen “full time” which leaves no room for other interests.