The rise of the Tailenders podcast was never expected to grow to what it has become today. 

Felix White, former guitarist of The Maccabees band and cricket obsessive, recalls how the concept started when BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James suggested a five-show series to coincide with an Ashes series seven years ago.

Alongside England's talismanic fast bowler James Anderson, the pair have witnessed the surge of the podcast to now transcend cricket and encompass a much wider audience.

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"I do not even know what it is anymore. Is it cricket? Is it not anything to do with cricket? It has its own energy," Felix says in an exclusive interview with the Oxford Mail ahead of the Tailenders live show tour. 

"It is genuinely a surprise to everyone.

"I was really in love with cricket and Greg said ‘do you want to give this a go?' when The Maccabees broke up.

"It was meant to just be five episodes seven years ago to tie in with Jimmy being on tour for the Ashes. That was literally all I thought Tailenders would be.

"It has become a huge thing in all our lives and it has grown into something bigger than anyone imagined. I used to think that about really good bands where the connection of personalities makes it bigger than any one person."

The "loosely-based cricket podcast" will be on stage at Oxford's New Theatre next Saturday as part of the live show tour. 

Returning to Oxford brings back fond memories for Felix of playing at the Zodiac, now the O2 Academy, with The Maccabees. 

"I have been playing gigs at Oxford since I was young, 18 or 19. I know it well as a place," Felix said.

While Felix is in his element on stage given his indie rock star background, the same cannot be said for Jimmy Anderson. 

Oxford Mail: England fast bowler and Tailender James AndersonEngland fast bowler and Tailender James Anderson

For all his success on the cricket field, Felix tells the Oxford Mail that a live audience is far from England's highest ever wicket taker's comfort zone.

He explained: "The cool thing for me is that Jimmy is one of the greatest cricketers of all time and he is put in a situation where maybe he is not as comfortable going on stage. But people get a real buzz off Jimmy. That has worked really well.

"We all view Jimmy as this indestructible cricketer and this hero when he steps over the white line and not to think about bowling a no ball, but then to see him nervous in a massive theatre with an audience is quite amazing really."

In contrast, Felix has had a creative licence on stage, describing being a guitarist as comparable to a middle order "luxury player with licence to come in and thrash the ball". 

"On stage everything is quite uncomplicated and you know what you are there for. There is a simplicity to it," Felix said.

"You’re not looking at your phone with lots going through your head. You feel much more at peace on stage and I enjoy that experience. The adrenaline of that is no different to a gig.

"I also think of wicketkeepers being like drummers. They barely get noticed but one mistake and everyone turns around. There is not that same pressure as a guitarist." 

The Tailenders show will have all the usual features from the podcast including Bristolian Matt ‘Mattchin’ Horan's games and quizzes, General Cricketing Sadness and famous guests.

Oxford Mail: The Tailenders live show comes to Oxford on Saturday, October 21The Tailenders live show comes to Oxford on Saturday, October 21 (Image: TEG Europe)

As a co-chairman of the Oval Invincibles Hundred team, Felix said the trophy from the team's success this summer "may or may not be brought on tour with us". 

"I am picturing how Bob Dylan won an Oscar and had the trophy on top of his piano for years. I am imagining the same for us," Felix said.

The show will also be an opportunity for the Tailenders to look back on a jam-packed summer of cricket and shine a light on Jimmy Anderson's cricketing career.

Felix said: "This is good timing as I actually had a Zoom call with Mattchin and Jimmy on Thursday night to go through it.

"The show will be much more in depth this time. We will go more in depth with Jimmy and his career. There will be a ‘what goes on in the room stays in the room’ embargo. We will grill Jimmy on the Bairstow run out and text gate for example."

Felix said the tour was not intended to coincide with the Cricket World Cup taking place in India at the moment. 

But the tournament will offer the Tailenders the chance to watch the matches in the morning ahead of the live shows in the evening as they travel across the UK's various theatre venues.

Felix believes triumph for England in this world cup would surpass any previous achievements in the history of the short-form side.

"We were lulled into a false sense of security with the last 50-over tournament," Felix said.

"These tournaments have patterns and momentum. South Africa look good but we know what happens when South Africa lose momentum.

"I do not think we will win it. If we do win the 50-over world cup and go back-to-back it will be the biggest achievement yet for a short-form side and surpass the 20 and 50-over wins.

"With the playing conditions and so many players featuring in franchise competitions, it does seem like they could be out of their depth.

"I could just watch New Zealand all day, and I think of the power of India in their own conditions. If England do win the whole thing there will not be too many better successes."

A Fantasy Cricket League will be created for the tournament with all Tailenders fans invited to take part alongside the likes of cricketers Izzy Wong and Stuart Broad.

Those familiar with the podcast will know this comes off the back of Felix's intense rivalry with Greg for the County Championship version of the game.

"I'm sometimes worried we are too competitive and break up Tailenders," Felix joked.

"Greg seems to be better than me and I have a lot of resentment with that."

Oxford Mail: Radio 1 DJ Greg James initially launched the Tailenders podcast in November 2017 Radio 1 DJ Greg James initially launched the Tailenders podcast in November 2017 (Image: Archant)

Despite this intense battle, Felix describes how Tailenders has been a hit because of the friendship between the presenters and the mix of characters coming from different occupations.

"It's amazing that none of it is preconceived," Felix said.

"When I first started Tailenders it really taught me a lesson about how people respond to it. It genuinely is that natural and it feels that natural."

It is clear that cricket is more than a hobby for Felix. It is an obsession and a game he lives and breathes.

"There is nothing more aesthetically beautiful than cricket," he said.

"I was watching Ollie Pope batting yesterday in the nets and it’s just an art. It’s just balletic and it soothes a part of you."

On The Inaugural (Annual) Farewell Tour, Greg, Jimmy and Felix will visit eight cities across the country this October, including Nottingham, Oxford, Southend, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, London and Bath. 

Tickets are on sale now and can be found by searching 'Tailenders' on the ATG Tickets website or by searching