They didn't play cricket, did they?

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

Steven Lynch

March 21, 2011

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

Actor William Gillette playing the detective Sherlock Holmes, 1899
Did cricket lend the fictional Baker Street detective his Christian name? © Getty Images

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.

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

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Posted by KiwiRocker- on (March 22, 2011, 9:51 GMT)

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

Posted by 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…

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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!

Posted by 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 only depends wat the first person writes on birth certificate n then it continues from there lol

Posted by dhivehi_egaara on (March 22, 2011, 0:53 GMT)

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

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 22:59 GMT)

Chris Martin of New Zealand and Chris Martin of Coldplay?

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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!!

Posted by AvmanM on (March 21, 2011, 18:00 GMT)

What about Bill O'Reilly?

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 17:33 GMT)

@Roshan - Bowler bowls a front foot no ball, batsman leaves the ball, keeper misses the ball, and ball goes to boundary - 4 byes + no ball = 5 runs

Front foot No ball = Freehit

In the free hit ball, batsman takes a single, fielder throws the ball, ball misses stumps and goes to boundary, 4 runs in overthrow. Totally 5 runs.

Hence totally 10 runs in 1 legal delivery!

Posted by ArishaG on (March 21, 2011, 17:19 GMT)

@ Shanal It is a slight different spelling as per the language of the countries but same name. Thanks.

Posted by balajik1968 on (March 21, 2011, 15:56 GMT)

If I remember right, there were 2 guys by the name of Robin Singh who played for India. One was the Tamil Nadu all rounder and the other was a bowler, I don't recall where.

Posted by MaskedMarvel on (March 21, 2011, 14:43 GMT)

Good suggestion re Conan Doyle - he played two matches for Orange Free State in 1937/38

Posted by D.Pramod on (March 21, 2011, 13:52 GMT)

Hi Steven, How about D J Lillie the peer of the slightly more famous D K Lillie? And James Cameron seems to have two "Avatars" of himself involved in cricket - James Cameron who played one List A match for Nottinghamshire and the Zimbabwean James Gair Cameron who now plays for Worcestershire.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 13:49 GMT)

American actor from the original "The Love Bug" movie and former Australian batsman Dean Jones. British painter and New Zealand opening batsman John Wright. British comic artist and England middle-order batsman Robin Smith.

I'm sure there's plenty more! :)

Posted by Guru14 on (March 21, 2011, 13:37 GMT)

Napolean Einstien - two Great names for the price of one - Tamil Nadu playrer, also listed under Chennai superkings and former India under 19

Posted by mrgupta on (March 21, 2011, 13:31 GMT)

@Roshan Jha: It did happen that on a single ball 10 runs were scored, but that was not in International Cricket (Test or ODI). It happened during a county game way back. I read it in an article, dont remember the exact timeline, but it happened more than 150 years ago i guess. During those days the 'ball' was not considered 'dead' even after it crossed the boundary line. So at it happened when the batsmen hit the ball he started running and ran 4 runs before ball crossed the boundary, then as the fielder was picking the ball he kept running and scored another 2-3 runs. Then there was an overthrow and then he ran another 2-3 runs. This way he was able to score 10 runs in that single ball.

Posted by bsartiste on (March 21, 2011, 12:52 GMT)

Muhammad Ali is certainly a famous name and someone who had a recent long first class career in England and Pakistan. There's also several famous Abdul Qadir's. Clearly a bias against Pakistani names.

Posted by kwigibo on (March 21, 2011, 12:34 GMT)

There's a whole hive of Mohammad Ali's

Posted by jonesy2 on (March 21, 2011, 12:22 GMT)

john wayne (hastings).......................

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 11:37 GMT)

Can any event in test and ODI of cricket game where in bowller bowl one ball in which 10 runs comes for opponent team.

Posted by Grutness on (March 21, 2011, 11:10 GMT)

Don't forget the former Rhodesian Prime Minister and New Zealand wicketkeeper Ian Smith... Or early kiwi international and leading British actor John Mills! There have also been two different international players called Willie Watson.

Posted by Grumbert on (March 21, 2011, 9:28 GMT)

Alastair Cook - Alistair Cooke?

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 9:05 GMT)

And of course Chris Martin ! Lead singer of Coldplay and and actual test player unlike many in this list.

Posted by Shanal on (March 21, 2011, 8:31 GMT)

The Palestinian Nobel Prize Winner is Yasser Arafat, and not Yasir Arafat.

Posted by RomanCitizen on (March 21, 2011, 8:08 GMT)

What about John Snow, the Soho Doctor and regarded by some as the Father of Epidemiology. Not sure what his bowling was like, though. There is a pub named after him in Soho.

Posted by Kart_in_Quartz on (March 21, 2011, 7:08 GMT)

To add, theres a Napoleon Einstein playing for Chennai in Indian domestic. A future prospect making a mark from a different continent maybe?

Posted by mmdkcool1 on (March 21, 2011, 7:00 GMT)

Because Yasir Arafat is a Pakistani player. Simple reason.

Posted by MaskedMarvel on (March 21, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

It was Julius Caesar's son who threw himself under a train in October 1876. Caesar himself, dogged by ill health and poverty, died in his lodgings at Mill Lane, greatly affected by this and by his accidental shooting of a beater in 1865 and the death of his wife in 1874.

Wodehouse was rather more than a cricket fan, being a useful fast medium bowler at his public school, Dulwich. He had seen Jeeves bowling at Cheltenham and had been impressed by his action.

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 6:36 GMT)

What about Yasir Arafat and Chris Martin

Posted by Jayanth.R on (March 21, 2011, 6:26 GMT)

Brilliant compilation. I guess, you could also include Arthur Conan Doyle who has played in 10 first class matches for MCC in the 19th century.

Posted by SuperShakib on (March 21, 2011, 6:10 GMT)

you forgot Napoleon Einstein, the Indian domestic cricketer

Posted by zero_knowledge on (March 21, 2011, 6:08 GMT)

man how could you miss napoleon einstein? the combination of one of the best generals and one of the best physicists..

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 5:50 GMT)

and of course the stunning Napoleon Einstein... where we have not one but two greats...

and Amjad Khan, the English test cricketer... shares the name of one of Bollywood's greatest villains...

Posted by   on (March 21, 2011, 5:47 GMT)

Does Samuel Beckett qualify? Not only did he play 2 FC games fro Dublin University but he wrote "Waiting for Godot" Amongst other important plays & novels. So had a famous name because he was the famous person.

Posted by mangesha on (March 21, 2011, 5:32 GMT)

how about 2 in 1 Napoleon Einstein?

Posted by Forget-me-not on (March 21, 2011, 4:40 GMT)

Great article. Only one minor flaw. Thomas More was beheaded not burnt at the stake. He went to his death telling the axeman not to worry as "My neck is very short". A braver man than most of us.

Posted by chocolateeddie on (March 21, 2011, 4:30 GMT)

Surely honourable mention to Chris Martin? Although I wouldn't be too shocked if the singer of Coldplay was a better batsman

Posted by Alokp on (March 21, 2011, 3:58 GMT)

No Yasir Arafat? Pakistani medium fast bowler/Palestinian Nobel Prize Winner??

Posted by suarpiggie on (March 21, 2011, 3:36 GMT)

How could you miss Yasir Arafat?

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Steven LynchClose
Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.

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