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Secret Songs Of Cricket!

With AOC’s resident musicologist and broadly unemployable dilettante

No.12: Edwin Starr – War

Now I don’t have any first-class runs to my name, so on one hand it’s a bit rich for me to sit here and take the piss out of someone who does – but then on the other, he’s Australian, and has a silly name, so I’ll just crack on…

On February 3, 1969, in the Sydney suburb of Campsie, Dean Parma entered the world, joining his then three-year-old twin brothers Stephen Rodger and Mark Edward, to complete the ever increasing Waugh clan (there is in fact another brother, Danny, but he doesn’t have a ESPNcricinfo or Wikipedia profile, so let’s just pretend he doesn’t exist).

Like Dean Parma Waugh I also have two older brothers; unlike Dean Parma Waugh my brothers are not two of the greatest cricketers of all time. Between 1985-2004, Steve Waugh, arguably Australia’s most popular cricketer since Bradman, played 168 Tests, scoring 10,927 runs at 51.06. His first-class stats are equally impressive: 356 matches, 24,052 runs at 51.94. He also has to his name a hatful of wickets (249 to be precise – it’s a very big hat) in both Test (92) and first-class cricket and was named one of a hundred ‘Australian Living Treasures’ by the National Trust of Australia.

Twin brother Mark, or “Junior” as he was hilariously known (born three minutes after Steve), may not quite match up in terms of Test stats to his brother (128 Tests, 8,029 runs at 41.81), however he is widely regarded as one of the most naturally gifted and elegant stroke-makers the game has ever seen. Mark’s first-class career does actually have the edge over that of his ‘older’ brother with a staggering 26,855 runs scored at 52.04, he too has over 200 first-class wickets (208) in a career that spanned nearly two decades.

Now, this brings us to Dean… Dean Parma Waugh.

Dean Parma Waugh, despite never representing his country at Test level, was, like his two brothers, a first-class cricketer. He appeared for New South Wales in a solitary match against Queensland during the 1995/96 season, batting at No.4 he scored 19 and 3, before being caught behind in each innings. His first-class record therefore reads: 22 runs at 11.00, just 24,030 short of Steve, and 26,833 behind Mark.

While such discrepancy within the same family of first-class cricketers may be surprising, Dean Parma Waugh’s spectacular failure was in fact prophesized within a song written on the very day he was born. Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote Waugh for the Motown label in February 1969, spookily predicting Dean’s worth to Australian cricket with the lyrics: “Waugh, huh, what is he good for? Absolutely nothing”.

The song was originally intended to be released by The Temptations in 1970, however when the title was changed to War and adopted as an anti-Vietnam anthem, the band’s management were concerned they would lose more conservative fans, so the song was given to Edwin Starr. It became an instant smash and topped the chart in the US and reached No.3 in the UK. Ironically it was not released in Australia, home of its originally intended audience…

Click here to discover Garry Sobers’ surprising link to No Woman, No Cry by Bob Marley

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