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People (including a dictator) who have lent their names to cricket
February 20, 2012
The name has a regal air: Lord's Cricket Ground. You can almost imagine lords (and, latterly, ladies) promenading on and around the ground. But the title isn't anything to do with the aristocracy: the ground is named after Thomas Lord, a Yorkshireman who moved to London when his family fell on hard times. In 1787, at the behest of some wealthy backers, he opened the first Lord's ground, and charged sixpence a time for entry. It became popular, and Lord was able to sell his ground (by then the current one) in 1829. But the name Lord's stuck. It just wouldn't have been the same if he'd been Thomas Smith.
The inventor of the googly, BJT Bosanquet of Oxford University and Middlesex, is hardly remembered in his native country now - more people recall his bewigged newsreader son Reginald - but in Australia there are still a few people who call the sneaky delivery a "bosey", after the man who first bowled it. Richie Benaud, not a bad purveyor of them himself, is the man most likely to.
Almost every big cricket ground in Australia has a Bradman Stand, there's a Bradman Oval in his childhood home of Bowral, a Bradman Museum, *and Bradman Streets here there and everywhere Down Under. But perhaps the oddest thing the Don gave his name to - unknowingly, since he was already dead - was a range of biscuits in India. Bradman's family described him as "a loved and missed family member, not a brandname like Mickey Mouse", and took court action. The case was settled last year.
The fearsome Pakistan fast bowler became a verb for a while, as quivering batsmen around the world talked of being "waqared" by his searing in-ducking yorker. It whipped in at you at about 95mph, and just when you thought you'd got the hang of it, he started reverse-swinging it too. There wasn't much respite at the other end, either: batsmen who escaped Waqar would usually be confronted by Wasim Akram, almost as fast, and left-arm to boot.
Doug from Dungog was so popular at the SCG that fans erected a banner proclaiming part of the old Hill as "the Doug Walters Stand". This happened with such regularity that it was eventually officially renamed in his honour. The bad news for Walters followers was that it was demolished in 2007, to make way for a new building. However, there remains a Doug Walters Bar (in the Victor Trumper Stand), which seems somehow appropriate, given that Walters' training regime legendarily involved a beer and a cigarette. Friends and fans alike were gobsmacked when the former 80-a-day man gave up smoking in 2010.
KD Singh "Babu"
Several cricket grounds in India are named after administrators - there's the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, the Chinnaswamy in Bangalore and the Chidambaram in Chennai - but none of the major ones are named after a cricketer. There is a Test ground named after a sportsman, though: the one in Lucknow, which has staged just the one Test (against Sri Lanka in 1993-94) commemorates KD Singh, an Indian hockey legend who won Olympic gold medals in 1948 and (as captain) in 1952.
England captain, founder of the Cricketer magazine, and joint manager on the Bodyline Tour (not his finest hour), Sir Pelham Warner is commemorated at Lord's with a rather draughty stand beside the pavilion. Others to have stands named after them there are Denis Compton, Bill Edrich and Gubby Allen: but regulars in the maritime-roofed edifice near the Lord's shop will be sad to learn that an extensive trawl through Wisden has yet to unearth a prominent cricketer called Mound.
When I first went to Edgbaston, I had a seat in front of the lovely old scoreboard in a small area called the Stanley Barnes Stand. I didn't think much about the name, probably assuming it had something to do with the great bowler SF Barnes, who played briefly for Warwickshire. But he, of course, was Sydney Barnes, so who was Stanley? Turns out he wasn't a cricketer at all, but a prominent local doctor, who was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the nearby University of Birmingham from 1931 to 1941. He was Warwickshire's president for a time during the 1950s.
One of the unlikeliest of cricket facts is that the Test ground in Lahore is named after the ex-dictator of Libya, whose long and violent rule came to a bloody end in 2011. The cricket ground was originally called the Lahore Stadium, but was renamed in 1974 after Gaddafi gave a speech in the city in which he supported Pakistan's right to have nuclear weapons. Since Gaddafi was overthrown there have been moves to rename the ground again - "I don't think his profile is inspirational enough to link with our cricket stadium's identity," understated a local sporting official - but nothing has happened yet.
Time will tell whether the name "Dilscoop" sticks for the exciting, if dangerous, shot that involves shovelling the ball over your head, while hoping said head doesn't get in the way. As Dilshan tried to perfect the stroke, some of his warier Sri Lankan team-mates suggested it might be better to call it the "starfish" shot - "because a starfish has no brain".
A cheerful presence behind the stumps for Australia in 51 Tests, most of them in the 1960s, Queenslander Wally Grout was a jovial character - but one unlikely to have a major cricket edifice named in his honour. According to Fred Trueman, though, there was a Wally Grout Urinal at the SCG, although your correspondent is yet to find it.
* Feb 20, 2012 09:48:44 GMT: A reference to "Bradman Gates" at the SCG was removed
Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012.Feeds: Steven Lynch
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