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Longest national anthems amongst cricketing nations

England cricket team
The England cricket team have one of the shorter renditions of their anthem played before games
Pramit Pratim Ghosh

23rd March 2016. This day will always be fondly remembered by each and every soul who stood in the stands of the Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bengaluru. 3 Bangladeshi wickets falling off the last 3 balls, with MS Dhoni showing an exemplary presence of mind to take off his glove for the final delivery, and the lightning dash to uproot the stumps, handing Bangladesh a 1 run defeat.

However, this day will remain special to me for an entirely different reason. Although I am an Indian by birth, I have always taken pride in my East Bengal roots (that’s what folks back home still call Bangladesh). In addition, the fact that I was a trained Rabindra Sangeet vocalist meant that I knew both the anthems of India and Bangladesh by heart, and while the rest of the stadium was quiet after “Jana Gana Mana”, I was glad to join a handful of Bangladeshi supporters in singing “Amar Shonar Bangla”.

However, I couldn’t help overhearing some snide remarks later in the night – “Only, had their innings been as long as their anthem….”

So, does Bangladesh really have the longest anthem amongst the 10 full-time ICC member nations? And who has the shortest? Let’s find out!

Please note: All lengths of anthems are basis those being played before the start of matches. There are anthems of varying lengths and those have not been considered for this list.

10) England

The nation credited with the birth of this great game, holds the record for the shortest anthem – 40 seconds – as well as for the oldest national anthem amongst all cricketing nations – the anthem dating back to 1745.

While English cricketers have been singing the United Kingdom’s - “God Save the Queen” in all their matches, England as a nation has been vying for a separate anthem for themselves.

The most famous alternative being William Blake’s “Jerusalem” which was once sung by English fans at the stadium, at the behest of the then skipper Michael Vaughan, as they welcomed his boys on to the field on the first day of the final Ashes test of 2005. That’s inspiration!

9) India

India
The Indian national anthem has a fixed official time of

With an official time of 52 seconds, India has one of the shortest anthems amongst all cricketing nations. The funny part is, that in a country where Hindi rules the roost in terms of the most spoken language, the anthem is composed in Bengali, albeit Sanskritised. But, each and every time you hear it, oh boy, don’t you have goose - bumps all over!

Remember India vs. Pakistan at Mohali, 2011? Especially that moment when the camera freezes on Sachin’s face; that feeling of seeing him singing with that determined look on his face, along with 55,000 Indians at the ground - unbeatable!

8) Australia

Australia
Australia are five time world champions

Australia’s “Advance Australia Fair” is a close ninth with an average playtime of about 55 seconds. With inspiring lyrics, it sure does the trick for the 5-time World Champions as they are always up for a good fight on the big stage.

However, recently the anthem did counter controversy, when Aussie batsman Usman Khwaja was seen grabbing debutant Adam Zampa’s behind- anthem in progress - ahead of an ODI with New Zealand in early 2016. It did seem to do wonders for Zampa though as he registered impressive figures of 2/57.

I guess, sometimes it’s good to be “caught behind!”

7) New Zealand

new zealand
New Zealand also sung “God Save the Queen”

Being one of the many British colonies around the World, New Zealand too sung “God Save the Queen” till 1976, when a petition ruled “God Defend New Zealand” as the second national anthem.

Since then, the Black Caps have been singing the highly energetic anthem which runs for just over a minute, and has both English as well as Maori lyrics, giving it the aggressive punch.

An enduring moment was to witness the Kiwis led by Brendon McCullum, singing the anthem with full fervour in their first ever World Cup Final last year. Didn’t quite help their cause though as they were bundled out for 183, handing neighbours Australia their fifth World Cup title.

6) Zimbabwe

zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s anthem has been sung in three languages

A close competition to New Zealand in terms of length, Zimbabwe’s anthem “Lift High Zimbabwe’s Banner”, again runs for just above a minute; however, the duration depends on the version being sung.

The anthem has been sung in all three languages – Shona, Ndebele & English at various occasions. However, most recently, in light of the growing resistance to the Mugabe regime, the anthem has risen as a symbol of unification for the nation.

At a Test match last month, between Zimbabwe and New Zealand, protestors in the stadium rose in the 36th over of the day, singing the national anthem and waving flags, using the opportunity to unite for their cause.

5) Pakistan

Pakistan
Pakistan’s

Easily one of the most melodious and harmonious of anthems amongst all cricketing nations, the “Qaumi Tarana” runs for almost a minute and a half. Every time India meets Pakistan in a World Cup encounter, the two anthems form very much a part of the celebrations, which are invariably graced by important figures from both nations.

Mohali in 2011 was an example – it was indeed a sight watching the Pakistan PM Gilani, coach Waqar Younis and captain Afridi humming the anthem ahead of a power-packed game.

The most recent memory being that of the India-Pakistan tie at the Eden this year, where megastar Amitabh Bachchan and classical singer Shafaqat Amanat Ali rendered the anthems of their respective countries.

4) West Indies

West Indies
The West Indies have a peppy anthem

Now this is an interesting one! West Indies doesn’t have a national anthem, but just an anthem – for the simple reason that West Indies isn’t really a country but a cricketing body composed of players from the nations of Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Leeward Islands and Windward Islands.

True to the Caribbean spirit, “Rally Round the West Indies” is a typical peppy number that grooves for about a minute and 45 seconds. However, the song does have a few untoward references – “some of the old generals have retired and gone; and the runs don't come by as they did before”. Imagine, an anthem created for a cricketing entity – that’s unique!

3) South Africa

South Africa
South Africa’s anthem is composed in five languages

Here’s one truly diverse anthem! Composed of five different languages to represent different sections of the African nation, “God bless Africa” never fails to inspire even spectators from other nations. Ranked third in the list of longest anthems, this two-minute rendition is in actuality a combination of two different anthems, and even shifts melody midway, concluding in a different key.

One may think, it’s difficult to render without supporting music, but once when a technical glitch at the Kotla, stopped the South African Anthem midway during a WC 2011 group match, Graeme Smith and his boys managed perfectly fine, supported by a section of touring fans.

2) Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka just missed out on the top spot in this list

The Asian Lions are at No. 2 in this anthem-a-thon. A very interesting and less known fact – the composer of the two and a half minute long “Sri Lanka Matha”- Ananda Samarakoon, was a student of Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan, and it is said that Tagore too had a substantial contribution towards the lyrics and tune.

And you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out – start listening to the anthem and it starts with almost the same tune as the “Uchhala Jaladhi Taranga” part of our anthem. Interestingly the anthem has official versions in 2 languages – Sinhalese and Tamil, the latter in use in some of the northern parts of the island nation.

1) Bangladesh

Bangladesh
Bangladesh top the list with the longest anthem

Yes, you guessed it right! The Bangla Tigers are right at the top, with an undefeatable 2 minutes and 45 seconds! While I admit, the anthem may not hold much water with someone who doesn’t know the language – ask any Bengali (on either side of the border) and this song is bound to bring a lump to their throats.

Be it their historic victory over England in the 2011 World Cup, qualifying for the 2015 quarter final or their emphatic run at the Asia Cup this year, Bangladesh has grown from strength to strength. Premature celebrations apart, (refer aforementioned match!) inspiration in full measure!

Edited by Staff Editor

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