January 28, 2016

And then they played cricket

Other sportspersons realising the awesomeness they have missed out on

© PA Photos

Maria Sharapova may not know who Sachin Tendulkar is, but she might have an inkling about the game he plays, given the number of tennis players from Australia (at least a while ago) on the circuit, and, er, the few from England.

Speaking of England, do you know how they won the 1966 football World Cup? By playing cricket during breaks between games. In the above photo, (from left) Bobby Charlton, Terry Paine, Nobby Stiles, the 21-year-old Alan Ball (batting), Gerry Byrne and Peter Bonetti hone their ball-watching skills.

Cricketers can learn a thing or two about celebrations from Stiles, who danced on the Wembley pitch after winning the final, holding the trophy in one hand and his false teeth in the other.

© PA Photos

Race-car driver Graham Hill works on his reflexes at slip in a charity game also featuring Prince Charles (batting) and fellow driver and Olympic bobsledder Robin Widdows (keeping), 1968. The fielding clearly helped Hill with his focus and concentration: he went on to win the Formula One World Championship that year.

Adam Pretty / © Getty Images

A 20-year-old Andy Roddick gets a different sort of forehand workout while facing Shane Warne in the nets at the SCG, 2003.

Adam Hevezi / © Associated Press

Cricket must be an odd enough game for Americans as such, but for an American football player it must be downright weird to play a ball game with zero body contact (and little ball contact). In this photo, Chicago Bears' Jay Cutler swings big at The Oval while training to play the Tampa Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium as part of the 2011 NFL season.

Paul Connors / © Associated Press

Look at that half-hearted batting stance Manny Ramirez of the LA Dodgers has adopted. Why are you standing knock-kneed, Manny? And where's your head at? No wonder baseball is so inferior when compared to cricket. Do they even have a coaching manual? Now take a good look at Shaun Marsh and do what he's doing.

Anthony Foster / © Getty Images

Or Ramirez could learn from Usain Bolt, whose high elbow and straight bat here are just as impressive as that thing he does with his legs.

David Rogers / © Getty Images

Ernie Els bats in a beach cricket game also starring other golfers (from left) Craig Parry, Mark McCumber and Nick Price (then ranked No. 1), during the 1994 Johnnie Walker World Championship in Jamaica. Two days later Els, then 25, won the tournament - his fifth of the year - capping a phenomenal 12 months in which he raked in US$2.88 million from 35 events, with 16 finishes in the top five and 19 in the top 10.

Nishi Narayanan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo