Zimbabwe’s David Houghton, who turns 63 on June 23, has one of the more common first names for an international cricketer.
As per the Bible, David was the young shepherd who gained fame by slaying the giant Goliath. David is also the patron saint of Wales, and the annual feast of Saint David is celebrated across Wales on March 1. The feast has been observed since the canonisation of David in the 12th century, and is one of the most significant festivals on the Welsh calendar.
International cricket has seen a sizeable number of Davids, but not all of them have enjoyed illustrious careers at the highest level. After a bit of deliberation and taking into account the balance between batsmen and bowlers, here’s presenting the international David XI.
David Boon (Australia)
One of the finest cricketers to come out of Tasmania, Boon made his name as a mettlesome top-order batsman in an international career spanning over 11 years. He was a key part of Australia’s four Ashes successes from 1989 to 1994-95 – six of his 21 Test hundreds came against England. Boon was named the man of the match in the 1987 World Cup final for his solid 75, and besides his batting prowess, was famed for his drinking abilities. He is currently an ICC match referee.
David Warner (Australia)
Opening along with Boon is Australia’s pocket-sized dynamo. Warner burst into the limelight with a blistering 89 on his T20I debut in 2008-09, though he had to wait for nearly three years before making his Test bow. He carried his bat for 123 not out in a losing cause in only his second Test, against New Zealand in Hobart, and since then, has gone on to become the baggy greens’ first-choice opener. His career-best, a monumental unbeaten 335, came against Pakistan in Adelaide in 2019-20.
David Gower (England, captain)
The stylish Gower has the honour of leading the international David XI, despite his rather ordinary record as captain of England. A left-hander who exuded elegance, Gower signalled his arrival with 58 against Pakistan at Edgbaston in 1978. Edgbaston was also the scene of his career-best 215 in 1985, which was instrumental in England’s regaining of the Ashes – he logged an astonishing 732 runs in the series. He later became a highly successful TV commentator.
David Houghton (Zimbabwe, wicketkeeper)
Houghton, who started out as a wicketkeeper and was also a goalkeeper in the national hockey team, dons the gloves ahead of South Africa’s David Richardson, so that an extra batsman can be accommodated. He had the privilege of captaining Zimbabwe in their first Test match – against India in 1992-93 – in which he made a doughty 121. His finest hour as batsman came against Sri Lanka in Bulawayo in 1994-95, when he scored 266, Zimbabwe’s highest individual Test score.
David Hussey (Australia)
Even though the younger of the Hussey brothers never played Test cricket, he can boast of an excellent first-class average of 52.50, having been a stellar performer for Victoria as well as Nottinghamshire. Hussey was almost 31 when he made his ODI debut in the Caribbean in 2008, scoring 50 in Australia’s one-run win. His only international hundred came against Scotland in Edinburgh the following year, and he later represented his country at the 2011 World Cup.
David Miller (South Africa)
Miller is another batsman in the XI who is without Test experience. However, the swashbuckling southpaw is an integral part of South Africa’s limited-overs scheme of things due to his big-hitting ability and game-changing impact – for instance, in October 2016, he shepherded an amazing chase of 372 against Australia in Durban with an unbeaten 118 from just 79 balls, while a year later, he smashed the fastest T20I century, in 35 balls, against Bangladesh.
David Holford (West Indies)
Barbadian Holford, a cousin of the legendary Garfield Sobers, fills the all-rounder’s spot in the international David XI. A right-handed batsman and a decent leg-spinner, Holford first appeared for the West Indies in the 1966 series in England. In the second Test at Lord’s, he famously scored 105 not out, combining with Sobers for a game-saving stand of 274 for the sixth wicket. His only Test five-wicket haul (5-23) came in the first Test against India in 1975-76, in Bridgetown.
David Allen (England)
Off-spinner Allen is the front-line spinner of the international David XI. A bowler who thrived more on the road than at home, he was a regular in the England team of the early ’60s and ended with a creditable 122 wickets from 39 Tests. He was also one of the post-war greats for Gloucestershire, for whom he took 882 wickets in a 19-year career. Allen could bat a bit too – he had a first-class hundred and five Test fifties to his name. He passed away in 2014, aged 78.
David Brown (England)
Brown’s Test career lasted exactly four years, from 1965 – when he took six wickets on debut against South Africa at Lord’s – to 1969, during which he collected 79 wickets from 26 matches. An effective seamer who stood tall at six foot four, he served Warwickshire with distinction from 1961 to 1982 and even captained the county from 1975 to 1977. His best Test innings return came in the drawn Ashes Test at Lord’s in 1968, where he took 5-42 to help skittle the Australians out for 78.
David Brain (Zimbabwe)
A promising left-arm pacer for Zimbabwe in their early days as a Test nation, Brain made his debut against New Zealand in 1992-93, impressing with 3-49 in his first outing. On the three-Test tour of Pakistan in 1993-94, he excelled with 12 wickets at 15.33 in two games, even as Zimbabwe lost 2-0. A little over a year later, he was part of Zimbabwe’s first Test win, against Pakistan in Harare. He called it quits in 1995-96 in order to focus on his family’s business.
David Langford-Smith (Ireland)
Born in Sydney, fast bowler Langford-Smith has the honour of being the first Irishman to take an ODI wicket, when he scalped Ed Joyce (then of England) in Ireland’s maiden ODI in Belfast in 2006. A few months later, he performed commendably at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, taking seven wickets, including a stingy return of 2-27 in Ireland’s win against Bangladesh. His painting and decorating business however took precedence over cricket, and he retired in 2007-08.