England hero Ben Stokes was the difference for the home team as they kept their bid to win back the Ashes alive with a thrilling one-wicket victory at Headingley.
There have been some interesting moments in the game of cricket, and my second part of the bohemian cricket alphabet has some quirky cricketing stories.
N – Nawabs of Pataudi
Firstly, Nawab Mohammad Iftikhar Ali, the eighth Prince of the Pataudi Palace, captained the touring Indian team to England in 1946. Then his son, Nawab Mohammad Mansoor Ali Khan Siddiqui, was made the captain of the Indian cricket team at age 21. Nawab Iftikhar had the distinction of being the only cricketer to play Test cricket for both India and England.
O – Origins of cricket
It was said that the game of cricket was played as early as 1300, with some accounts of King Edward’s life suggesting he played a forerunner of the game. The sheep-raising countryside of the Southwest of England was the most plausible assumption due to its short grass of pastures conducive to rolling a ball at a target.
The earliest recorded match, however, was in the year 1646 in the county of Kent. The word ‘cricket’ is derived from the word ‘cricc’, which implies shepherd’s staff. It is widely believed that the first cricketers were shepherds wielding their criccs as bats and the wicket gate of the sheep acted as targets.
P – Packer’s World Series
In 1977 Kerry Packer changed cricket forever. Due to a falling out with the Australian cricket hierarchy and the pay crisis, Packer decided to create a rebel league which ran in opposition to international cricket. Packer signed some of the world’s best players in Clive Lloyd, Greg and Ian Chappell, Tony Greig, Viv Richards, Imran Khan and many more. The series also provided opportunities for banned South African players to perform on the world stage.
The series lasted until 1979, but cricket has had been impacted forever. Coloured clothing, lucrative contracts, day-night cricket and broadcasting power are now embedded in the DNA of contemporary cricket.
Q – Qasim Ali Umar
Qasim Ali Umar is the first Kenyan born cricketer to play Test cricket for the Pakistan national team. Qasim played 26 Tests and recorded two double-centuries. His most important innings was against a ferocious Australian outfit when he was battered and bruised by the great DK Lillee but compiled a brave 113. In 1985 Umar gave evidence against several cricketers, including some of his countrymen, about receiving bribes that included jewellery, money, alcohol and women. Several cricketers totally refuted such claims.
R – Rahul Dravid
Dravid was and is still known as The Wall. However, he holds the record for having his stumps disarranged. The Wall has his defence breached a record 54 times in Test matches, including nine of the last 13 innings he played in the Test arena.
S – Sharma
Ishant Sharma most probably wouldn’t be proud of this fact. The three highest scores against India in the 21st century have come by the bat of Alastair Cook (294 runs at Edgbaston in 2011), Brendon McCullum (302 runs at Wellington in 2014 and Michael Clarke (329 runs at the SCG in 2012). Sharma dropped all three early in their innings.
T – Traicos
John Traicos holds an unusual distinction in cricket. He was born in 1947 in Zagazig, Egypt, but Traicos is the only player to be born in one country and practice his art for two different countries, those being South Africa and Rhodesia, which is the modern day Zimbabwe. Traicos represented Zimbabwe in the 1983 Cricket World Cup, which included the shock defeat of the Australian cricket team.
U – Undefeated fortress
The Gabba in Brisbane, affectionately known as the Gabbatoir due to the incredible supremacy of the home team against touring sides. Australia has not lost to an opposition team at the Gabba for over 30 years, the last loss coming against the amazing West Indies outfit of 1988.
V – Victor Trumper
No cricketing alphabet is complete without the great Victor Trumper. The Australian cricketer was arguably the best batsman of his era, with elegant strokeplay and undeniable genius. Trumper did not believe in coaching but had an enormous amount of confidence in his own talent. He lived close to the Sydney Cricket Ground and practised on a concrete pitch with his father. Statistics may not tell the full story, but Trumper was a true icon of cricket. He died at the age of 37 from Bright’s disease.
W – Wilfred Rhodes
Rhodes played 58 Test matches for England in an international career that lasted 31 years. Rhodes has an unbelievable first-class record. He accumulated 39,969 runs and an eye-popping 4204 wickets with 287 five-wicket hauls and 68 ten-wicket hauls.
X – Xavier and Xen
There are only three cricketers in the history of international cricket to have a name starting with X: Australian Xavier Doherty, South African Xenophon Balaskas and West Indian Xavier Marshall.
Y – Yorkshire Cricket Club
It’s by far the most successful of all county cricket clubs. The club has lifted the trophy 31 times, including one shared championship. Along with this, Wisden Cricket has chosen 42 Yorkshire cricketers as their cricketers of the year. These include Len Hutton, Herbert Sutcliffe, Geoffrey Boycott, Fred Trueman, Darren Gough and Michael Vaughan.
Z – Zimbabwe
There have been many instances of brothers playing together, such as Yusuf and Irfan Pathan, Michael and David Hussey, the Waugh twins, Kamran and Umar Akmal and so on. But in 1997 against New Zealand Zimbabwe fielded three sets of brothers. Andy and Grant Flower, Paul and Bryan Strang, and Gavin and John Rennie made up six of the Zimbabwean XI. They drew the match and the series, with Grant Flower being adjudged man of the match.