Wednesday, 1 August 2012


August. Songwriters have not been inspired by the month named after Emperor Augustus in 8BC. Prior to that it had been called Sextilis – and there are no songs about that either.

So in his search for a song about August, Fantasy Bob has to cheat again and nominate Neil Diamond’s live album Hot August Night. While the title is, no doubt, an accurate description of the concert which took place on 24 August 1972 at the Greek theatre in Los Angeles, it is also the opening line from one of Neil Diamond’s big hits – Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show. Not that that is a favourite of FB, who if asked to nominate his favourite innings by Diamond would have to plump for Sweet Caroline. Good times never seemed so good.

Hot August Night was a worldwide success, and many critics regard it as the greatest live album ever. It went down particularly well in Australia, where it topped the album chart for 29 consecutive weeks. Diamond's final concert of his 1976 Australian Tour set a record for the largest attendance at the Sydney Sports Ground. Good on you, Song Sung Blue. His Australian popularity is despite the fact that there are no songs about cricket in Diamond’s catalogue. But Diamond was a sportsman in his early life – he got a fencing scholarship to New York University and was on the national college team.

24 August 1972 is a significant date in cricket too – the first ODI in England was played at Old Trafford between England and Australia. This is listed as ODI 2 in the archives – ODI 1 was a hastily arranged affair in Melbourne in January 1971 – put on to replace a weather affected Test match. (The Australia v World XI fixtures of 1971-72 had also featured 3 one day 40 over matches but they don’t count in the records). No one was sure if this new fangled thing would catch on. There have been 3294 ODIs played since then.

England skipper with the first Prudential Trophy
The match was one of a 3 match series sponsored by Prudential and was in a 55 over format. It followed the 1972 Ashes series which had ended in a draw – a number of matches being affected by the weather. Pitches were also indifferent: no English batsman scored a century, and England only scored above 300 in one innings in the whole series (the second innings in the final test, so they left it pretty late). The series is chiefly remembered now for the performance of the debutant Bob Massie who took 16 for 137 at Lords. It also provided England’s first sighting of Denis Lillee – he was the leading wicket taker in the series with 31 at 17.67. The shape of things to come.

England won the 24 August ODI by 6 wickets with 35 balls remaining. The victory was based on a solid innings of 103 by Dennis Amiss. Bob Woolmer, in his international debut, got 3 for 33 – a reminder of his early prowess as a seam bowler, he batted 9 in the England team for the series.

England won the 3 match series 2-1. England were captained by Brian Close, the only ODIs he played in his career. He was 41 years old. Neil Diamond was 31 years old.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Ian Chappell's relatively young side were not given much of a chance at the start of the 1972 Ashes series and were credited with a spirited performance when they managed to win the final Test and draw the series. Little did we know what would happen later. On the music front, mention should perhaps be made of Eric Clapton's 1986 album August, a work of unqualified excellence which produced an unusual live concert collaboration between Clapton and Luciano Pavarotti on the track Holy Mother.

  3. This partnership is not noted in Cricinfo.