March 28, 2011

The games cricketers play

Cricketers who excelled at other sports

Kenneth Gandar-Dower
One of Britain's leading tennis players in the 1930s, Gandar-Dower was also a good cricketer, although it had to fit in alongside his many other sports, which included football, fives, rackets, real tennis, squash and (presumably to fill the evenings) billiards. Later he became an aviator and an explorer, and in 1937 returned from Kenya with a dozen cheetahs, intending to race them on greyhound tracks. He had some success, although the animals, while fast, were not inclined to chase the hare. Gandar-Dower, who a few years earlier had demolished the famous Australian tennis player Harry Hopman in the annual Queen's Club tournament, caused a stir when he strolled into the club bar there accompanied by a cheetah.

Jeff Wilson
The closest thing in recent years to a double international, "Goldie" Wilson played four one-day internationals for New Zealand against Australia early in 1993, making an impression as a busy allrounder. Almost 12 years later (a record gap) he played two more - against Australia again - but did little. In between, he had carved out a fine career in rugby union, winning 60 caps for the All Blacks and scoring 44 tries, a record at the time.

Woolf Barnato
The son of a rich South African diamond miner, Barnato entered the famous Le Mans 24-hour race three times - in 1928, 1929 and 1930 - and won it each time, co-driving a Bentley. He was also a familiar face at the Brooklands racetrack. When not behind the wheel he was a keen cricketer, and kept wicket in six first-class matches for Surrey - two in the County Championship, in one of which he stumped the Lancashire and England allrounder Len Hopwood.

CB Fry
It's almost impossible to compile a list like this without including Charles Burgess Fry, one of the brightest stars of cricket's Golden Age around the end of the 19th century. Fry once scored centuries in six successive first-class innings, a record that has still never been beaten, and captained England in six of his 26 Tests. He also played football for England, good-class rugby, and equalled the world long-jump record while at Oxford University in 1893. Legend has it that he was also offered the throne of Albania but declined.

Aasif Karim
A canny slow left-armer, Karim retired after the 1999 World Cup, in which he captained Kenya, only to be tempted back for the 2003 tournament, in which his country enjoyed their finest cricketing hour by reaching the semi-finals. Although he was 39 by then, Karim played his part, returning scarcely credible figures of 8.2-6-7-3 against Australia. Before all this he had played Davis Cup tennis for Kenya, although he lost all three of the matches he played, against Egypt in 1988. Only two men - India's Cotar Ramaswami and Ralph Legall of West Indies - have played Test cricket and Davis Cup tennis, although SM Hadi (who played alongside Ramaswami on India's 1936 tour of England) came close: he appeared in the Davis Cup but never did win a Test cap.

Jonty Rhodes
Apart from being one of the most electrifying fieldsmen Test cricket has ever seen - and a pretty handy batsman too - Rhodes was also an accomplished hockey player. He won several international caps, and was part of the South African squad that attempted (but failed) to qualify for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. He also took part in trials for the 1996 Olympics - when South Africa did qualify - but tweaked a hamstring and did not make the final squad.

Jack MacBryan
Jonty Rhodes did not quite make it to the Olympics, thus missing the chance to emulate MacBryan, who was part of the British hockey team that won gold in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp. Four years later MacBryan, a successful amateur batsman for Somerset, won his one and only Test cap, against South Africa at Old Trafford in 1924. In a match in which only half a day's play was possible because of bad weather, MacBryan did not bat, bowl or take a catch... and was never selected again.

Bill Alley
The last man to score 3000 first-class runs in an English season, which he did in 1961 aged 42, Alley had a varied sporting career, starting in his native Sydney before the war. Always a fine cricketer, the chunky Alley was also a fine boxer: he won all 28 of his fights as a middleweight, and was tipped as a potential world champion (he might have been Australia's first; they did not have one until Jimmy Carruthers in 1952). But Alley suffered a freak injury in practice - his skull was fractured when he was hit by a ball from an adjacent net - and had to give up the ring. The injury set back his cricket career, too, and Alley never played for Australia despite being tipped to do so by Don Bradman. Instead he enjoyed a successful career in English county cricket for Somerset, playing on till he was almost 50, and later became a Test umpire.

Franklyn Stephenson
One of the best West Indian cricketers never to win a Test cap - his most productive seasons coincided with a time of fast-bowling riches - Stephenson did the double (1000 runs and 100 wickets) for Nottinghamshire in 1988. He finished with nearly 800 first-class wickets, plus almost 450 in List A matches, at under 20 apiece, many of them with his patent looping slower ball, which claimed several distinguished scalps. Tall and lanky, Stephenson then turned to golf, with great success: he's now the resident professional at the prestigious Sandy Lane resort in his native Barbados.

Rudi van Vuuren
Windhoek doctor van Vuuren not only played in two separate World Cups - the cricket and rugby union versions - but did so in the same year, 2003. When England did their usual job of encouraging the minnows at the cricket World Cup by making a meal of beating Namibia, van Vuuren opened the bowling and took 5 for 43. He might have wished he had an urgent medical appointment later in the tournament, though, when his 10 overs against Australia were carted for 92. Later in 2003, van Vuuren was in Namibia's squad for the rugby World Cup, and played in the defeat by Romania.

Tony Wilding
An elegant New Zealander who won the men's singles at Wimbledon four years running, between 1910 and 1913, Wilding also played two first-class cricket matches for Canterbury as a teenager, taking 3 for 22 against Auckland in the first of them. Chances of further honours - at tennis or cricket - ended when he was killed in action in France in 1915.

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

  • Dummy4 on March 30, 2011, 2:09 GMT

    The West Indian greats....Sir Gary Sobers, Sir Viv, Prince Brian, Gordon, Desmond, Jeffery and others are all active with golf throughout the Caribbean and should be included in this wonderful article. Some of them have also been playing some soccer every now and then.

  • Andrew on March 30, 2011, 1:47 GMT

    AE Stoddart, captain England in Cricket AND Rugby!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on March 29, 2011, 22:19 GMT

    Willie Rodriguez, the West Indian all rounder of the nineteen sixties, has the unique privilege of playing both cricket and football for the West Indies. Yes football!. There was a West Indies football team that toured England during the period of the short lived West Indies federation (1958-1962) and Willie was a member of that team.

  • Iftekharul Hasan on March 29, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    what about current cricketers? australian pacer dirk nannes?

  • ramasesha rao on March 29, 2011, 18:10 GMT

    Hi, you forgot David Gover who acted as captain of England Team as well as their national champion in Table Tennis.

  • Andrew on March 29, 2011, 11:57 GMT

    Tuppy Owen-Smith played cricket for South Africa and England in the 30s and also captained England at rugby.

  • Dummy4 on March 29, 2011, 10:39 GMT

    Before Bangladesh attained the Test status allrounder Janhangir Shah Badshah represented the country in numerous matches. He played top level football at the local club level. He played in the defence for Abahani a leading Dhaka club. Incidentally his brother Nadir Shah is an ICC Umpire. Again incidentally his family has Iraqi ancestry. Kazi Salahuddin perhaps the best striker Bangladesh has ever produced played top level domestic cricket too in the 1970s

  • Cricket on March 29, 2011, 9:03 GMT

    Some names missed:

    1) Dennis Compton: England & Middlesex cricketer. Arsenal Footballer

    2) Rick Charlesworth: Australian field hockey captain, and West Australia openor who was also fielded as substitute for Australia in test criket.

    3) Dr Jahangir Khan: cricket test matches for India in the 1930s. Representd India i the Commonweatlh Games in the 1930s in athletics (Javellin thrower). Bradman's team of 1936 to England reckoned he had the most accurate and fastest thorw from the outfield they had ever seen. Cyril Roote, groundsman at Cambridge University, where Jahangir Khan gained a PhD in history in the 1930s reckoned there was "nothing that Jahangir could not do". Ref: Tony Lewis' memoirs

    4) Tony Lewis: England and Glamorgan cricket captain and rugby player

    5) Majid Khan: Pakistan, Glamorgan and Queensland cricket player. Captained star studded Paksitan International Airlines field hockey team to national tournament win in 1975 (team included many internationals).

  • Edwin on March 29, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    What about Denis Compton (who played football for Arsenal), or Botham who did the same for Scunthorpe?

  • Dummy4 on March 29, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    dont forget Brian McKechnie, the NZ batsman who faced the infamous underarm delivery. He was also an All Black, involved in another of NZ's more controversial sporting incidents. Wales were ahead in the dying minutes of a fierce test match with the All Blacks - lock Andy Haden milked a penalty by dubious means in a lineout and McKechnie stepped up to slot the penalty goal which put us in front to win the game

  • No featured comments at the moment.