Rodney Hogg: milkman
Before he became a tearaway fast bowler for Australia, collecting 123 Test wickets at 28.47, Hogg worked as a milkman before losing his job after a wild night at a strip club. The sportswriter Ken Piesse describes him as a "renegade milkman-turned express bowler". A quirky character, Hogg once had his wife erase the videotape of a soft dismissal while batting in a Test, saying he did not want his son to see him as a coward. He later ran a fruit stall.

Bill Lawry: plumber
Lawry was a plumber's assistant in Northcote, Victoria, when he started growing in prominence as a cricketer. He later remembered how he, in his plumber's overalls, would run into the then Australian cricketer Colin McDonald in his pinstripes sometimes on Collins Street. "Next thing, I'm opening for Victoria with him," he said.

Fazal Mahmood: traffic policeman
The tall, green-eyed Fazal was the first bowling great for Pakistan. In 34 Tests he took 13 five-wicket hauls and four 10-wicket hauls. Neil Harvey, the great Australian batsman of the time, said that Fazal "could make the ball talk" on matting. In his dayjob, he was a traffic inspector. What did he think of his the profession? "Managing Karachi's traffic is like trying to bowl out Len Hutton without any stumps in the ground," Fazal said.

Brett Dorey: bodyguard
The tall Dorey, who played four ODIs for Australia, used to be a bodyguard to the children of a Russian businessman. He played for Western Australia at Under-17 and Under-19 levels in 1995 and 1997 before heading to Europe on a travelling adventure, and working as a bodyguard. He returned to Australia in 2004 and took up cricket seriously.

Nadeem Shahid: retail entrepreneur
Shahid played for Surrey for 10 years and scored over 6000 runs with nine hundreds. While he was playing he started a business venture with his team-mate Ed Giddins, selling Christmas tree. It was called Nad and Ed's Christmas Trees. "We started off doing it for fun, and realised we could make some money out of it. The second year, we did it a lot more seriously. The fourth year we had four outlets in London, plus one in Birmingham." But they soon realised that because all their advertising centred around Shahid and Giddins, their shop were successful, but not the other franchisees, who weren't in the ads. "We actually made a loss in the last year, and decided not to do it again, which was a bit of a shame," Shahid said. "Had we stuck with one shop, we probably could have had one going now."

Dion Nash: bottled-water business-owner
Nash, the talented New Zealand seamer, was forced to look for an alternate profession after he was dropped in the wake of the infamous marijuana incident during the tour of South Africa in 1993-94. Nash lost his contract and was subsequently injured. He worked at bars and cafés to earn a living as he tried to make a comeback. "It was a little humbling," he remembered later. "You went from earning good money one year to earning nothing the nest year." He now runs a business selling bottled water under the brandname 420, which is also a colloquial term to do with marijuana culture.

Bert Sutcliffe: sports shop owner
Early New Zealand great Sutcliffe, who once worked for Rothmans, the cigarette manufacturer, used to run a retail sports shop, much like the legendary Australian batsman Victor Trumper. And like Trumper, Sutcliffe too suffered as a businessman due to his generosity. As Glenn Turner said, "He used to run the shop in Dunedin, my hometown. He was too generous - you went to buy equipment and he would give it for half price. It didn't help him as a businessman."

Colin Croft: air-traffic controller
On the cricket ground he used to send express deliveries flying down, and in the off season he used to work as an air-traffic controller in Guyana, Puerto Rico and Port-of-Spain. "You had to do something just to get by," Croft said. "For a five-Test series in 1977, and three one-dayers, I earned $3000 [Trinidad and Tobago dollars]. That was about £500. I needed a proper job." He later gave up cricket to become a commercial pilot.

Vasant Ranjane: fitter
A medium-pacer who played seven Tests for India, Ranjane came from a very poor family. He worked for Indian Railways as a fitter and retired in 1994. His sorry state of affairs - he was struggling to support his six children - came out in the open after a journalist wrote a story about him. The Indian board then intervened and arranged a benefit match for him against the visiting West Indies team in 1983. Fitting, considering he had toured West Indies as an India player, and cherished the wickets of Rohan Kanhai and Garry Sobers as the high point of his career.

Lall Singh: nightclub owner
A one-Test wonder, Singh played on India's 1932 tour of England. He was born in Malaysia - still the only Test cricketer born there - and when the Indian board invited him for the trials in 1931, the Indian expat community there arranged funds for him to travel. Singh was known for his brilliant fielding and he ran out Frank Woolley in the only Test he played on the England tour. The cricket historian Richard Cashman wrote that Singh quit playing for Southern Punjab to open a nightclub with his wife, a singer at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Paris. However, Mihir Bose played killjoy later, writing in his book on Indian cricket, "… there were stories of [Singh's] running a nightclub in Paris. The truth was more prosaic. He lived out his life as a groundsman in Kuala Lumpur".

Glenn Turner: bakery worker
Turner at one point in his career wanted to play country cricket to further his career, but didn't have the finances for the trip to England. And so he came to work in a bakery. "I had to raise money to get there [England] because I didn't come from a wealthy family," Turner recalled later. "I used to work night shifts, taking bread off a belt, 1500 loaves an hour, and I did night shifts for a year. I restricted my spending to what I ate, stayed at home, and when enough money was saved, I took off."

12th men
John Bracewell used to be a grave digger when he got the New Zealand cap; Joel Garner worked as a telegraph operator; Geoff Howarth was a petrol-pump attendant; Michael Holding was a garage owner and a computer programmer; Geoffrey Boycott used to work for Yorkshire's electricity board; Eddo Brandes was a chicken farmer; Craig McMillan was a car salesman for a brief while; Geoff Lawson used to be a qualified optometrist; Monty Noble was a dentist; Shane Bond used to be a policeman; Andy Robertswas a fisherman; Paul Gibb who played eight Tests for England, was a bus driver; Brett Lee was a menswear store assistant; Colin Miller worked as a barman

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo