July 23, 2012

You talkin' to me?

Not-so-famous cricketers who share names with better known colleagues

Tendulkar
There's only one Tendulkar, you might think... but no: if you input just the surname into ESPNcricinfo's search box you get the one you're probably expecting, and also Chandrakanth Tendulkar of Goa, who played five first-class matches in the 1980s but averaged an un-Tendulkarly 9.00, with a highest score of 38. The Tamil Nadu bowlers Peter Lobo and AP Sureshkumar have probably dined out on the fact that they got Tendulkar out for a duck - just don't ask them which one.

Muralitharan
Batsmen everywhere are thankful that no second Murali has emerged yet. But wait... what about Darwin Muralitharan of Malaysia? He bowls slow left-arm orthodox (how disappointing is that "orthodox"?) and was described as "an exciting prospect from Penang" during an Asian Cricket Council Under-19 tournament in 2005 - possibly after he took 5 for 5 to skittle the mighty Maldives for 84 in Kathmandu. But even Google doesn't divulge how flexible Darwin's wrists are.

Bradman
The modern-day Don? A left-hand batsman with the exotic name Prince Bradman Ediriweera played a lot of first-class cricket in Sri Lanka, scoring 12 centuries - the highest, 154 for Colombo Cricket Club against Sebastianites in January 1998. But his eventual first-class average (33.01) was less than a third of the real thing's.

Younis Khan
There's the elegant Pakistan batsman who made a century on Test debut, not to mention 313 against Sri Lanka a couple of years ago... and then there's Younis Khan of Germany, who scored 13 and took a wicket against Gibraltar in the 2001 ICC Trophy in Canada.

G Sobers
The great Garry Sobers had an elder brother called Gerry, who sadly died last year. Gerry was a handy batsman too: in 1964 both of them turned out for Norton, in the North Staffordshire League, and Gerry - playing as an amateur - pipped his brother, the club pro, in the batting averages. The story goes in Barbados that when Garry was called up to play for the island against the 1952-53 Indian tourists, aged only 16, the selectors actually meant to ask Gerry. "If that's the case," says Sir Garry, "it could have been our sister, Greta, as she is G Sobers as well..."

Yuvraj Singh
The free-flowing Indian left-hander Yuvraj Singh was born in Chandigarh in 1981: the following year, Yuvraj Surendra Singh was born in Jodhpur. He was a handy cricketer who opening the bowling for Rajasthan's Under-16 side, although he didn't "train on". One of his team-mates who did, the wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik, is now a Ranji Trophy regular.

Alec Bedser
We probably all knew there was one carbon copy of the great Surrey and England bowler Alec Bedser, in the form of his identical twin Eric, who played alongside him for years at The Oval. Legend has it that they flipped a coin to see which one would bowl medium pace and which one would take up offspin, and Alec won the toss: he went on to take more than 200 Test wickets in a glittering international career, while Eric never did get a Test cap. But another Alec Bedser played a few first-class matches for Border in South Africa in the 1970s - and spookily he had a twin brother called Eric too.

Ijaz Ahmed
Ijaz Ahmed was a member of Pakistan's 1992 World Cup-winning side: a busy batsman who biffed 22 international centuries (a dozen in Tests) despite a peculiar jutting-bottomed stance, he also surprised a few people with some sub-Akram left-arm skidders. In addition to 60 Tests he played no fewer than 250 one-day internationals, and in two of them lined up alongside... Ijaz Ahmed. This one, usually referred to as "junior", although they were not related, was an offspinning allrounder from Faisalabad. Sadly, in the matches they played together (both in Australia in 1996-97) there were no cases of "c Ijaz b Ijaz".

Ramprakash
Well, there's the just-retired Mark... and then there's Bhaskaran Ramprakash, three years older, who was a Ranji Trophy regular for Kerala for a dozen years. He hit 152 against Tamil Nadu in November 1991, but that was his only century: Mark made 113 more (and won a ballroom-dancing competition to boot).

Charlie Griffith
This turns out to be not just one West Indian fast bowler - the mean and moody Barbadian Charlie Griffith produced some lightning-fast spells in the 1960s - but two: Kenneth Charlie Griffith Benjamin, from Antigua, later played for West Indies too, and while arguably not quite as fearsome did bowl at a pretty impressive pace himself. The pair had strikingly similar Test careers: Charlie 94 wickets in 28 Tests, Kenny 92 in 26.

Stephen Lynch
And if I may be excused this indulgence, I once arrived at a match at Sir Paul Getty's lovely ground at Wormsley to be told "Ah yes, you're playing - park over there." This was a bit of a surprise, as no one had told me - and, rather more worryingly, the match was against the South African tourists and Allan Donald was warming up on the outfield. With some relief I discovered that the S Lynch in question was a New Zealander who once scored 94 for Auckland. Luckily, he soon turned up. And I got a prime parking place behind the pavilion.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012

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