An XI of players who have showcased their talent for music.
1. Sunil Gavaskar
Gavaskar became the first to score 10,000 Test runs, and when he retired in 1987, his 34 Test centuries was a record. Now a popular commentator, Gavaskar tried his hand at acting in the 1980s too, in Hindi as well as in Marathi films, and also released a single in Marathi, his mother tongue, called ‘He jeevan mhanje cricket’, which translates to ‘This life means cricket’.
2. Mark Butcher
The former England top-order batsman who played 71 Tests between 1997 and 2004 has also turned to commentary after retirement. When he was still an active player, Butcher sang ‘You’re never gone' at Ben Hollioake's memorial service. More recently, he has put together The Mark Butcher Band, which released its first album, ‘Songs of the Sun Horse’, a few years ago.
3. Donald Bradman (c)
The greatest batsman of all time – The Don – had a love and a talent for playing the piano. Even as he was scoring 974 of his 6996 Test runs while on the tour of England in 1930, he recorded ‘Old fashioned locket’ and ‘Our bungalow of dreams’, two piano pieces, at the Columbia Record Studios. He later collaborated with songwriter Jack Lumsdaine to compose ‘Every day is a rainbow day for me’.
4. Sanjay Manjrekar
Soon after finishing up his 37-Test career as a dependable middle-order batsman, Manjrekar released an album called ‘Rest Day’. In it, Manjrekar sang his former teammates’ favourite Hindi film songs. More recently, in 2016, he released an album called ‘Amaar Bela Je Jaay’, a collection of Bengali songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate.
5. AB de Villiers (wk)
The 360-degree man, perhaps the most complete of modern-day batsmen, is also a singer and guitarist. While scoring his 19,939 international runs – and counting – de Villiers also found time to cut an album called 'Maak Jou Drome Waar' (Make your dreams come true) in 2010 with Ampie du Preez, the South African singer-songwriter, which was released in Afrikaans and English. ‘Show them who you are’, one of his songs, is popular in the South African dressing room too.
6. Jeremy Coney
The former New Zealand all-rounder and captain learnt the piano and the guitar as a youngster and went on to teach music before becoming an international cricketer. He played for New Zealand from 1974 to 1987, but went back to his music many times in between. He later taught music at Onslow College in Wellington too. Having studied drama as well as stage lighting, Coney has worked in theatre over the past decade while also working as a cricket commentator and a documentary filmmaker.
7. Dwayne Bravo
No one who followed the ICC World Twenty20 2016 could have missed ‘Champion’, the song that played alongside everything West Indian during the tournament. The Trinidadian is known for his excellent all-round skills, especially in T20 cricket, and lives up his initials – DJ (Dwayne John) Bravo – when off the field. ‘Champion’ isn’t the only song Bravo has released: he even has a song – in a mix of English and Hindi – called ‘Chalo chalo’ and one called ‘Yen da’, recorded for a Tamil film called Ula.
8. Andre Russell
If Bravo can, Russell can too. The Jamaican all-rounder is one of the most sought-after T20 players in the game, and also recorded a song called 'Sweat whine' in 2014 as Dre Russ with Beenie Man, the Jamaican reggae and dancehall singer.
9. Brett Lee
“If you took cricket out of my life, I'd be sad. But if you took music out of my life, I'd be devastated,” Lee said once. He has played the guitar very seriously over the years, even when he was playing starring roles for Australia in international cricket, and has a rock band called Six & Out, where the other members are former New South Wales first-class cricketers including his brother Shane Lee. Of the 12 songs the group released in 2000, ‘Can’t bowl, can’t throw’ reached #100 on the ARIA singles chart. He also wrote a song called ‘You're the one for me' during the ICC Champions Trophy 2006, which was later released as a duet with Asha Bhosle, the popular Indian singer, as ‘Haan, main tumhara hoon’, which translates to ‘Yes, I’m yours’.
10. Graeme Swann
The ex-England spinner, one of the best of the new millennium, picked up 255 wickets in 60 Tests and was one of his team’s mainstays in the format between 2008 and 2013. A vocalist, Swann was part of a band called Dr. Comfort and the Lurid Revelations – named after Dr Alex Comfort, a sex therapist of the 1970s – before picking up an English central contract but continued performing with them occasionally even afterwards.
11. Curtly Ambrose
Ambrose was the stuff of nightmares for batsmen when at his peak, as his 405 wickets from 98 Tests and 225 from 176 one-day internationals underscore. He was an enthusiastic musician even earlier, but took it up more seriously after retirement, forming a band called The Big Bad Dread and The Baldhead with Richie Richardson, his former captain. While Richardson plays the rhythm guitar, Ambrose controls the bass. The former paceman is now also part of a group called Spirited, where he is the bassist.