“I like the fact that in Test matches you can play for five days and no-one wins.” (2006)
Elton playing cricket in Australia, 1987
The quintessentially English game of cricket has long fascinated Elton, and he often attends matches around the world when his touring schedule dovetails.
Cricket arenas have regularly staged Elton concerts and the song Rocket Man became a dressing-room inspiration to the England team which beat Australia in 2005 to regain “the Ashes.”
That led to one of Elton’s more unlikely duets, when he teamed up with England all-rounder Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff the following year in a charity fundraiser. Elton counts another great England all-rounder, Ian Botham, among his friends and was happy to contribute to a BBC programme in 2011 which looked back at Botham’s amazing exploits in the summer of 1981. In an unforgettable match, Botham almost singlehandedly snatched an amazing victory from the jaws of defeat against Australia, scoring 149 runs to defy 500-1 odds against an England win.
Like many international matches of the era, the match was brought to a worldwide radio audience by the doyen of cricket commentators, the late Brian Johnston. Johnston’s voice was the soundtrack of summer for many boys of Elton’s generation, and he happily recounted Johnston’s laconic style — and his own love of the game — in an interview with Johnston’s co-commentator Jonathan Agnew in 2006. Extracts from the interview later appeared in “Thanks Johnners”, an affectionate tribute book by Jonathan Agnew.
Agnew, himself a former professional player was taken aback by Elton’s knowledge of the game, “I had no idea his knowledge of cricket would be as deep as it was. He’d been watching a series between West Indies and Zimbabwe and he started quizzing me about young Zimbabwean players. I had no idea what he was talking about.”top