Ian Gillan sings
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The Essentials

'If I'm not on tour, I base my life around cricket'

Deep Purple's lead singer Ian Gillan on what he loves about the game

What is your earliest memory of cricket?
Watching professionals play behind St Paul's Church in Hounslow in west London. We went along one weekend and it was packed. It was just people sitting on the grass. They brought deckchairs and sandwiches and bottles of orange squash, and it was just unbelievable watching these guys in all white. It was a different world. We sat there with our mouths open, watching the entire thing. I didn't know the rules or the field positions or anything like that. The next day we were all out in the street with some kind of cricket bat and tennis ball and were copying our new-found heroes.

What is it about watching the game that appeals to you?
The thing that struck me always was that the moment the bowler turns is the moment everyone stops chatting and focuses back on the pitch. It's just uncanny. You don't see it in any other sport, except maybe darts.

The sound, the smell, and the whole idea of hurling a ball at someone and then trying to whack it out of the ground was just very exciting.

I can sit and watch Test matches for five days if I'm not on tour. I just base my whole life around it and get really into it.

What is your favourite ground to watch cricket?
I don't get to a lot of cricket because I'm on the road non-stop. We played in 54 countries last year, so I have to watch it on TV, and when I can't do that, I keep up on the computer.

What is your all-time favourite cricket moment?
Watching Ian Botham save the game at Edgbaston in 1981. That was unbelievable.

Do you have a favourite cricketer?
It has to be Dennis Lillee, without any doubt. I'd like to say Botham, because he was pure genius, but I used to be glued to the TV watching Lillee run up. He'd look like some guy just steaming out of the jungle - ferocious. But the skill and the bowling action were just unbelievable, beautiful.

What do cricket and music have in common?
It's hard to see if there are any parallels, apart from honing skills. Before you can do anything artistically you've got to learn the craft. Dealing with pressure, that's another thing. A lot of people get stage fright, so it affects their performance. So I should imagine when you're in a critical situation in a cricket game, the ones who can hold it all together mentally are the ones who are going to come out on top.

As told to Scott McConnell, a writer, producer and interviewer in Melbourne and Los Angeles

 

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