IT was all going so well until The Ashes started yesterday, but cricket-loving Irishmen Neil (Divine Comedy) Hannon and Thomas (Pugwash) Walsh will still raise a smile with their second innings of songs for flannelled fools.

Their self-titled first in 2009 was too witty, too melodious, too knowing of the joys and quirks and history of our summer sport, to be dismissed as a novelty.

Like Shane Warne’s ball of the century to Mike Gatting, it arrived without warning and was devastating on impact, and Sticky Wickets could never match that element of surprise. Instead it is a grander affair with celebrity guests galore – like U2’s American travelogue Rattle And Hum– but it retains the warmth, affection, perception and irreverence to rival today’s glut of cricket blogs.

As restless as Derek Randall at the crease, this chameleon album switches musical styles from the opening psychedelia of the Super Furry Animals-inspired title track to Divine Comedy National Express bounce of Boom Boom Afridi, with its first celebrity intrusion from Sky Sports’ Bumble Lloyd.

Henry “Blowers” Blofeld joins in the digs at match-fixing on the Kinks-meets-Madness single It’s Just Not Cricket, before Hannon and Walsh’s cricket fantasia peaks with the day-in-the-life Reggie Perrin sadness of The Umpire and the ornate ELO and 10CC Seventies’ rock of Third Man, where narrator Daniel Radcliffe suddenly evokes the other Third Man in Vienna.

Chin Music starts out as an early music madrigal; Out In The Middle apes American soft rock, Line And Length’s Eighties’ electro funk could be a Thomas Dolby comeback, and if the album tails off in England lower order fashion, there is one late flourish from ubiquitous luvvie Stephen Fry, recalling Sir John Betjeman’s spoken verse albums with Jim Parker on Judd’s Paradox.

Sticky Wickets is too Twenty20 at times but at its best it has the charm and flair, the dash and dare of David Gower in his princely pomp.

• The Duckworth Lewis Method play Leeds Brudenell Social Club on September 27.