March 21, 2011

They didn't play cricket, did they?

You'd do a double take on seeing these names on a scorecard
41

Julius Caesar
Only about 1900 years after the Roman invasion, Julius Caesar from Godalming had a long career as a batsman. He made three centuries for Surrey, the highest of them 132 not out against Sussex in Hove in 1864. This Caesar, like his namesake, came to something of a sticky end: aged 47 in 1878, and possibly depressed that his cricket career had drawn to a close, he threw himself under a train near Guildford on March 6 (not quite the Ides, but not far off).

William Shakespeare
Someone answering to the name of the Bard played for Worcestershire in the 1920s: William Harold Nelson Shakespeare appeared in 26 county games soon after the First World War, making his two highest scores - 62 and 67 not out - against Warwickshire in 1919 (sadly, at Edgbaston rather than Stratford-upon-Avon). He was a Wing Commander in the RAF, and later became Worcestershire's president.

Charles Dickens
The 19th-century novelist had a couple of cricket connections. A scene derived from his book The Pickwick Papers, of a cricket match between Dingley Dell and All Muggleton, featured on the back of the British ten-pound note for years, and he also played an unwitting part in the birth of international cricket: he was asked by the catering company Spiers and Pond to undertake a lecture tour of Australia in the winter of 1861, and when he turned them down they changed tack and invited an English cricket team to undertake the first tour down under instead. But a Charles Dickens did play first-class cricket - in four matches for the South African province Griqualand West just after the Second World War. When he played against Orange Free State he was dismissed by Keats.

Thomas More
Nearly 350 years after Henry VIII's former Lord Chancellor Sir Thomas More was burned at the stake, Thomas Jasper Mytton More was born in Shropshire, for whom he kept wicket in Minor County cricket. An Old Etonian, he also played for MCC.

George Bernard Shaw
Someone whose parents presumably had a sense of humour, left-arm spinner George Bernard Shaw played 16 matches for Glamorgan between 1951 and 1955. He took 10 wickets against the Combined Services in a first-class match at Cardiff Arms (and the Man?) Park in 1952.

Jeeves
Percy Jeeves was a Yorkshire-born allrounder who came close to achieving the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in his first full season for Warwickshire, in 1913. Although his form fell away a little the following year he was highly thought of - but sadly he was killed in action in France two years later, aged only 28. But his name lives on: when the author PG Wodehouse - a cricket fan himself, who played several times at Lord's for the Authors XI - was casting around for a name for probably his finest comic creation, Bertie Wooster's omnipotent manservant, he lighted upon Jeeves' surname and borrowed it.

James Callaghan
About the nearest the man who became Britain's prime minister in 1976 came to cricket was when he defeated Ted Dexter - the England captain at the time - to retain his Cardiff seat in the 1964 General Election. Later, when home secretary, Callaghan advised against the 1970 South African tour of England taking place, and it was almost immediately cancelled. But although Callaghan the politician died in 2005, Callaghan the cricketer put in a recent appearance: Cameroon's team for their World Cricket League Division 3 match against the Gambia in Accra (Ghana) in February 2011 featured one Wamba James Callaghan.

Brian Aldridge
A long-serving character in the even-longer-running BBC Radio serial The Archers, Brian Aldridge is played by Charles Collingwood, a keen club cricketer himself. New Zealander Brian Aldridge was a long-serving umpire who stood in 26 Tests and 45 one-day internationals, including the 1992 World Cup final in Melbourne.

Robert Kennedy
Senator Robert Kennedy (the politician) served as attorney general under his brother, JFK, and was assassinated himself in 1968, while running for president. Robert "Senator" Kennedy (the cricketer) was a fast-medium bowler for Wellington who played four Tests for New Zealand in 1995-96.

Sherlock Holmes
A slight cheat here, as no one of this name has ever played first-class cricket - but Holmes' creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did: his only wicket, in 10 first-class games for MCC, was that of WG Grace, who was playing for London County in 1900 (WG was 51 at the time, but had scored 110). But many people believe Holmes' distinctive first name was adapted from the surname of the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire fast bowler Frank Shacklock, while it's even more likely that the name of Holmes' even cleverer brother was borrowed from another Derbyshire bowler, William Mycroft.

Alec and Eric Bedser
The Surrey twins? That would be rather too easy. But there was another set of Bedser twins, also named Alec and Eric, born in South Africa in 1948 - and remarkably they became good cricketers too. Alec, a medium-pace bowler (naturally), played first-class cricket for Border, but sadly died in a car accident in 1981. Eric, while he didn't quite reach the first-class ranks, was a decent cricketer and a good all-round sportsman.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Cricinfo Guide to International Cricket 2011. And Ask Steven is now on Facebook

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • KiwiRocker- on March 22, 2011, 9:51 GMT

    What about Tendulkar and Endulkar whose WC will end in QF without ever winning a WC?

  • wolf777 on March 22, 2011, 2:34 GMT

    Bangladesh has Dolar (Mahmud) and Rubel (Hossain) palying for them…wonder both Dolar and Rubel made a joint appearance ever…

  • wolf777 on March 22, 2011, 2:25 GMT

    How about Steve Smith? There is a Steve Smith playing as a wide receiver for New York Giants. There many other Steve Smiths playing in all kind of sports.

  • King_Darius_III on March 22, 2011, 1:41 GMT

    Whilst the Coldplay singer can probably bat better than Chris Martin the cricketer, I bet the cricketer has a far better voice!

  • cric4world on March 22, 2011, 1:29 GMT

    yasser arafat or yasir arafat doesnt make any difference.its the same name with same meaning n same spelling in arabic n urdu. in english spelling may differ only because its not their native language.but its same name. just like razzaq is the same name but bengladeshi cricketer spells it like razzak n pakistani spells it like razzaq , some spell it just razaq.it only depends wat the first person writes on birth certificate n then it continues from there lol

  • dhivehi_egaara on March 22, 2011, 0:53 GMT

    You forgot Yasir Arafat - the late PLO leader and Pakistani medium pacer

  • dummy4fb on March 21, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    Chris Martin of New Zealand and Chris Martin of Coldplay?

  • markdch on March 21, 2011, 19:48 GMT

    More obscurely, there is a Hong Kong cricketer called Mark Chapman, less famous than his more homicidal namesake.

  • Meety on March 21, 2011, 19:38 GMT

    @Anthony Guterres - I bet the lead singer of Coldplay can bat better than the NZ bowler! @Osama Hassan Imam - good call, I always was amused that Arafat was/is a cricketer!!

  • AvmanM on March 21, 2011, 18:00 GMT

    What about Bill O'Reilly?

  • No featured comments at the moment.