When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease

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"When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease"
When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease (cover).jpg
Single by Roy Harper
from the album HQ
B-side"Hallucinating Light" (Live)
LabelHarvest Records
Songwriter(s)Roy Harper
Producer(s)Peter Jenner
Roy Harper singles chronology
"Home (Live)" / "Home (Studio)"
"When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease"
"Grown-Ups Are Just Silly Children" / "Referendum (Legend)"

"When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease" is a track on the Roy Harper album HQ, a prominent example of cricket poetry. Released as a single twice, in 1975 and 1978, it is possibly Harper's best-known song. The song captures the atmosphere of a village cricket match and is an elegy to the game as played during Harper's youth. Featuring Harper's 12-string acoustic guitar backed by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, it was arranged by David Bedford.

On his website, Harper talks of the track as being one of the highlights of the HQ album;

My childhood memories of the heroic stature of the footballers and cricketers of the day invoke the sounds that went along with them. Paramount among these was the traditional Northern English brass band, which was a functional social component through all four seasons, being seen and heard in many different contexts. My use of that style of music on 'Old Cricketer' is a tribute to those distant memories."[1]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease" – 7:13
  2. "Hallucinating Light" (Live)

Use as epitaph[edit]

An elegiac song, the last on the album, Harper uses the game of cricket as an metaphor for death, in its nostalgic sense for what has passed. This is underlined as the Grimethorpe Colliery Band enter halfway through.[2] British DJ John Peel made an agreement with his producer, John Walters, that in the event of Peel's death, Walters would play the song on air. Walters died in 2001, three years before Peel, so the request could not be fulfilled. Peel, however, played it at the end of his own show when he announced the news of Walters' death, and the song was played by fellow DJ Andy Kershaw at the end of his tribute to Peel on BBC Radio 3 (broadcast on 31 October 2004).

Peel's stand-in on his BBC Radio 1 slot, Rob da Bank, also played the song at the start of the final show before Peel's funeral.

The song mentions two England cricketers in its lyrics - "And it could be Geoff and it could be John" refers to Geoff Boycott and John Snow. The song is dedicated to both of them.[3][4]

Cover versions[edit]

The song was covered by Cantabile - The London Quartet as an a cappella track on their album for Signum Classics:- Songs of Cricket.[5][6]


  1. ^ "Official Roy Harper Shop and Website". Royharper.com. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  2. ^ Terrace, Ted (July 20, 2012). "When an old cricketer leaves the crease, by Roy Harper. Best cricket song ever?". Yes No Wait. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  3. ^ Stephen Brenkley (7 July 1996). "Dotty about ditties in the dot-ball game: Cricket Diary; One-man stand". The Independent. London. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  4. ^ Derek Pringle (19 May 2003). "A slap in the face for young shavers". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  5. ^ Gill, Andy (5 August 2011). "Cover Version - The London Quartet". The Independent. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  6. ^ "Signum Records artist information". Signumrecords.com. Retrieved 27 March 2012.

External links[edit]