October 31, 2011

Behind a famous cricketer...

... is sometimes his equally famous wife
25

Shoaib Malik
The sometime Pakistan captain Shoaib made headlines in 2010 by marrying leading Indian tennis player Sania Mirza, not least because another woman claimed she was already married to him after a romance seemingly conducted entirely over the phone. Mirza, whose necessarily skimpy on-court wear has caused some controversy in India, has a career-high singles ranking of 27, and won the mixed doubles (with her fellow countryman Mahesh Bhupathi) at the 2009 Australian Open. In 2011 she reached the women's doubles final at the French Open - and the semi-finals at Wimbledon - but lost both.

Neil McKenzie
McKenzie shared in the Test-record opening stand of 415, against Bangladesh in February 2008, but for many red-blooded South African males he forged an even greater partnership when he married Kerry McGregor, South Africa's original Wonderbra model. It must have been a photogenic wedding: McKenzie's sister, Megan, is a leading model herself, and dated Mark Boucher for a while.

Imran Khan
Gossip columnists and the paparazzi had a field day during the romance and subsequent marriage of Imran, Pakistan's most successful captain, and Jemima, the pretty daughter of the millionaire financier Sir James Goldsmith. They tied the knot in 1995, and subsequently had two children, although the marriage ended in 2004. Imran said, rather sadly, that they decided to divorce because he never had time for his family because of his "other life" in Pakistan politics.

Kevin Pietersen
KP's wife Jessica Taylor was a member of the pop group Liberty X, which was formed by some of the finalists from the ITV show Popstars in 2001. They had several hit singles, including "Just a Little", which reached No. 1 in the UK in 2002. When Taylor and Pietersen married in December 2007, the Daily Mail couldn't resist the punning headline "Cricket star weds his Liberty belle".

Mark Waugh
Waugh always followed the horses while he was playing for Australia, so perhaps it's no surprise that after his Test career ended he married a leading Australian racehorse trainer, Kim Moore, in 2005. That same year she pulled off the biggest success of her career to date, training Mahtoum to win the prestigious Sydney Cup at Randwick.

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi
One of the earliest marriages between cricket and show business was in 1969, when the Nawab of Pataudi - India's Test captain - married Sharmila Tagore, a noted Bollywood heroine, who, two years before, had become the first Indian actress to appear on screen in a bikini. Cynics doubted that the marriage would last - Pataudi was a Muslim and Tagore a Hindu - but they remained happily together until his death earlier this year. They had three children.

Martin Crowe
The former New Zealand captain Crowe fulfilled many a teenager's dream when he married Miss Universe in 2008. His bride, Lorraine Downes, had won the coveted beauty-queen title in St Louis in 1983; she remains the only New Zealander to win it. It was the second marriage for both of them: Lorraine's first husband was Murray Mexted, a rugby union All Black.

Mohammad Azharuddin
The former Indian Test captain Azharuddin, now an MP, was another to sweep a beauty queen off her feet: his second wife is Sangeeta Bijlani, who was Miss India in 1980 and subsequently appeared in several Bollywood movies. Some were less impressed by her acting: writing in Sportstar magazine, Ted Corbett called her "Mademoiselle Film Star Class 3".

Graeme Smith
After a long dalliance with Minki van der Westhuizen - a prominent South African model known as "Slinki Minki" - South Africa's Test captain Smith turned his attention to the world of music, and wed the Irish singer (and part-time model) Morgan Deane in 2011, not long after she had done backing vocals for the execrable pop duo Jedward at the Eurovision Song Contest.

John Edrich
The long-serving England opener's first marriage was a short-lived one, to the American tennis player Pat Stewart - who, legend has it, once wrote her phone number on her tennis panties for the benefit of would-be suitors (this was presumably not during their marriage!). When the future Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade played her first singles match there, in 1962, her opponent was Mrs JH Edrich.

Shane Warne
To round off our XI, who else but Warne, who announced his engagement during 2011 to the shapely British actress-cum-model Elizabeth Hurley. The wedding is eagerly awaited, not least by OK magazine. Hurley's most famous roles have included Vanessa Kensington in the Austin Powers movies and the Devil in Bedazzled, although she is probably even more famous for wearing a Versace dress implausibly held together by safety pins, to a 1994 film premiere. Since they got together Warne has sported a new, sleeker look, although the Daily Mail probably went a bit far in June by claiming "Liz Hurley has turned Warnie into a spooky waxwork".

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2011.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on November 3, 2011, 14:41 GMT

    Agassi - steffy ? Agassi played tennis not cricket

  • AlanHarrison on November 2, 2011, 10:11 GMT

    I have to say that Cricinfo (sorry - we have to mention the sponsor's name as often as possible, don't we - ESPNcricinfo) appears to have a very consistent record of gratuitously publishing photographs of scantily-clad or attractive young ladies which have very little to do with cricket. In addition to this cricinfo (sorry, ESPNcricinfo) XI, look at the ESPNcricinfo XI http://www.espncricinfo.com/wisdencricketersa/content/story/273302.htm. Also consider the current feature 'The Long Handle', also on ESPNcricinfo. I realise now that saying that will probably cause the internet to crash through lots of adolescent or frustrated males immediately logging on to ESPNcricinfo in order to search for more ESPNcricinfo features including ESPNcricinfo photographs of scantily-clad or attractive young ladies. Apologies to ESPNcricinfo users if you have difficulties accessing ESPNcricinfo in consequence.

  • KiwiPom on November 2, 2011, 5:00 GMT

    Apart from the nonentity Lorraine Downes I haven't heard of any of them

  • dummy4fb on November 1, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    No SL. They prefer simple life style.

  • AlanHarrison on November 1, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    @ DEDKIK: perhaps in the interest of balance, we indeed need a reminder of cricinfo's list of eleven famous EXTRA-marital relationships featuring cricketers: http://www.espncricinfo.com/wisdencricketersa/content/story/273302.html

  • dummy4fb on November 1, 2011, 8:50 GMT

    hey... how can you forget Mohsin Khan and Rina Roy???

  • SpeedCricketThrills on November 1, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    Ashok Mankad and Nirupama Mankad certainly deserve mention.

  • dummy4fb on November 1, 2011, 0:57 GMT

    You missed the big one - romance and wedding of current Pakistan selector/interim coach Mohsin Khan with Reena Roy.

  • FitzroyMarsupial on October 31, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    How can you possibly leave out Stuart Macgill's marriage to the lovely Bronwen from Neighbours?

    Forget Martin Crowe, Macgilla truly fulfilled many a teenager's dream with that one.

  • indianzen on October 31, 2011, 16:41 GMT

    missed pairs - Yuvraj - Zinta, Agassi - Steffy, Sreeshanth - Shakila...

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