Add whiskey, grenadine, and lemon juice to a mixing glass and stir to combine
Pour into a collins glass with crushed ice
Top glass with hard cider
Stir gently to combine
* * *
There are two things in this world which I really would love to wholeheartedly embrace, but no matter how much effort I put into understanding them, I fail time and time again. They are mahjong and cricket. I have books on both – books which I’ve picked up here and there over the years – yet I seem to remain absolutely clueless on either subject, which is problematic, at least on the cricket front, since I’ve chosen to follow up our lawn tennis post with one about that sport of gentlemen. Even worse, it’s not just a post about cricket; it’s one on an obtuse scoring mechanism applied during rain-outs. Thank goodness there’s a drink to go along with it – I think I’ll be needing it.
Let’s skip the whole history of cricket and the explanation of how the game works, because frankly, I know when I’m beat. I have a rudimentary understanding of the sport – if you read the basic rules and theory, it’s really quite simple. Yet, as with games like Chess and Go – or a fast-approaching tide – things can go from simple to over your head in a matter of seconds. But, I suppose there’s no getting around it today, so let’s dive right in.
Today’s drink takes its name (actually, it doesn’t, but let’s pretend it does) from a statistical model created in the early 1990’s by gents Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis for resetting targets in interrupted one-day cricket matches. Duckworth, as it turns out, is/was editor of the Royal Statistical Society’s monthly news magazine, while Lewis is/was a mathematics lecturer on the faculty of the Computer Studies and Mathematics department at the University of the West of England, Bristol and chairman of the Western Branch of the Operational Research Society.
Clever fellows, I’m sure. What these two fine gentlemen devised was a way to calculate target cricket scores in the event of rain. To let someone else – an expert – explain in a little more depth:
“The D/L method works using the notion that teams have two resources with which to make as many runs as they can – these are the number of overs they have still to receive and the number of wickets they have in hand. From any stage in their innings, their further run-scoring capability depends on both these two resources in combination. The table gives the percentage of these combined resources that remain for any number of overs left and wickets lost.”
Okay, I confess; I’m drowning here. I have no idea what that says. In fact, whenever I read it – and I’ve read it a lot – the image that comes to mind is not of cricket but the following exchange from Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life:
Brooks: Where were you? I’m just curious.
Rip Torn: I’d tell you, but you wouldn’t understand.
Brooks: Don’t treat me like a moron. Try me.
Torn: I was trapped near the inner circle of thought.
Brooks: I don’t understand.
Exactly. But, never fear, because now I’ll tell you what actually inspired today’s concoction. Sure, it’s the Duckworth Lewis Method all right, but not those two sourpusses above. Okay, okay – they actually look like pretty nice guys, what with their MBEs and all. Still, no matter how hard they try or how much they contributed to the game of cricket, this post isn’t about that Duckworth Lewis Method; it’s about the other one.
As a teen, I prided myself of seeking out the most obscure music I could find – at least, it seemed obscure to my little world. The Bongos, The Stabilizers, Planet P Project, Eberhard Schoener. And some habits die hard, even a quarter century later. So, I guess that when the world’s first cricket-themed supergroup took the stage, it was inevitable that I become a rabid fan. Yes, the Duckworth Lewis Method that lends its name to today’s drink isn’t those two gentlemen above (stop smiling, will ya) but the Irish pop sensation of the same name. These guys –
This DLM, if you don’t mind the short form, is truly something special – and unlike the original Method, something I not only understand but can’t get enough of. The brainchild of Thomas Walsh (Duckworth, on the left) and Neil Hannon (Lewis, on the right), the band is indeed a cricket-themed supergroup. The one and only, if you would believe it. By cricket-themed, I mean that every track on their self-titled 2009 release is a love letter to the sport. And we’re not just talking “green lawns and white uniforms” lip service – this is hardcore cricket geek stuff. In their own words, DLM describe their album as “a kaleidoscopic musical adventure through the beautiful and rather silly world of cricket. Few have attempted to encapsulate the King of Sports in song. None have succeeded. UNTIL NOW!!” That adventure includes tributes to Pakistani cricket legend Javed Miandad (“Meeting Mr. Miandad”) and a recounting of Australian Shane Warne’s “Ball of the Century” (“Jiggery Pokery”).
By supergroup, I mean that Walsh and Hannon are two of Ireland’s – indeed, Britain’s – most respected artists. Not only is Thomas Walsh frontman for the band Pugwash, he has one of the finest pop voices on the planet. As someone commented on YouTube “the bastard son of Jeff Lynne and Brian Wilson is alive and well and living in Dublin” – they couldn’t be more spot-on. Of course, the second half of the band, Neil Hannon, is no slouch either. No stranger to these pages (see the Trafalgar), Hannon is arguably one of the world’s greatest living songwriters/performers. He has composed the themes for “The IT Crowd”, “Father Ted”, written songs for “Doctor Who” and the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” movie, recorded with Air, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Jarvis Cocker – not to mention his own chamber pop ensemble, The Divine Comedy.
What makes DLM – both the band and the album – so amazing is the risk that it takes in lovingly embracing the subject of cricket while never forgetting the blatant absurdity of the whole endeavor. It’s a balance that we try very hard to achieve on the subject of cocktails here at 12BB, and it’s a hard one to successfully pull off. Honest, unbridled enthusiasm without succumbing to pomp or maudlin sentimentality. The idea for DLM sprang from a car trip Messrs. Walsh and Hannon shared on the way back from recording for a Christmas charity album Walsh was putting together. The car radio happened to be broadcasting the 2005 Ashes series, and Hannon demanded that it be turned up. As it turns out, Walsh had played cricket as a boy and was also a lifelong fan. A mutual love of the sport “that dare not speak its name” in Ireland led to a friendship, collaborations, and ultimately the formation of the band.
But why cricket? In an interview with Absolute Radio’s Geoff Lloyd, Hannon stated that he finds the game so beautiful because “you can perfectly happily sit there, have a few pints, read the paper, look up every now and again – and you’re getting the best of it.” Indeed, the more you study the game, the more you realize that it is truly a pastime for gentlemen and ladies. If one team is up by too many runs, they can offer to end the game, saving face for the opposing team; in cricket, matches don’t even really need to have results. Unlike baseball or other more physical sports, cricket demands a fair amount of strategy – for example, when the striker hits the ball, he may choose not to run at all, as it may best benefit his team’s position. In other sports, Hannon states, “It’s too ‘us and them’, whereas in cricket, you can applaud great play.”
But the DLM is more than just a sports-themed album. “We didn’t want to make a record just for cricket lovers,” Hannon told Lloyd. “It’s just a record. There are plenty of lyrics that you hear on other people’s records that you don’t know what they’re going on about but you still like the music. And it’s the same with this one. You really don’t need to know a thing about cricket; it’s just good tunes.” Which is really true. But I’ll contend that cricket – and the DLM, in turn – brings out the best in both Hannon, lightening his mood in comparison to his most recent Divine Comedy efforts, and Walsh, providing a much more lush backdrop for his melodic tenor. Is it for everyone? Of course not – no music is – but it did chart throughout Britain and Europe and was nominated for too many awards and “best of” lists to mention (I’ll list one: an Ivor Novello Best Album of the Year nomination — Britain’s top music writing honor). If you’re in doubt, have a listen over at the DLM web site.
Just as there was enough inspiration to be found in cricket to launch a supergroup, there’s enough inspiration to be had from the band to craft a delicious little summer cooler in their honor. Like the DLM themselves, the drink is two parts Irish – whiskey, of course, and the ever-present hard cider you’ll find in any Irish pub. The red bit – an homage to the cricket ball, if you will – comes in the form of our home-made grenadine. We first played with the combination of Irish Whiskey, hard cider, and grenadine back in our POM-Pomme Punch and have been smitten with it ever since. I tried this as a cocktail type drink, but I think it works much better in this long format, providing a lovely sip while you enjoy the Ashes series – or while you listen to what Mr. Lewis claims to be “possibly the least necessary album of recent years”.
Here then – while you enjoy your drink – is a nice selection of DLM, Pugwash, and Divine Comedy for your listening enjoyment:
Meeting Mr. Miandad – Duckworth Lewis Method
Take Me Away – Pugwash
Tonight We Fly – Divine Comedy (with Duke Special)
Next? Is this the next great sports-themed album? Uh, probably not.