A few years ago a rumour about AB de Villiers took the internet by storm. It said that the South African was prolific in several sports other than cricket like Rugby, Badminton, Hockey, etc. But he cleared all the myths in his autobiography that he has represented his nation only in cricket. Considering the maverick he is; the skills and fitness De Villiers has shown on the cricket field, many fans believed it to be true.
But there are some cricketers who have showcased their crafts on different sporting platforms. A selected few even represented their country in a sport other than cricket. Their hobby, or choice or just the fondness towards the game gelled with an opportunity drove these cricketers to try their hand in another sport.
Here we look at 10 cricketers who have played a sport other than cricket:
Yuzvendra Chahal – Chess
Wrist spinners have become a must-have commodity in limited-overs cricket. India is blessed to have a luxury of such a kind. One of the leading spinners in modern-day cricket is Haryana’s, Yuzvendra Chahal. He has become Virat Kohli’s go-to spinner, at any stage of the game. Chahal has the ability to chip out wickets in the powerplay, in the middle-overs, and in the death as well.
Chahal is also a former chess player and has played for India at junior levels. He won the National Under-12 Championship in Kolkata, 2002. He also represented the nation at Asian and World U12 Junior Championships. Chahal wanted to build a career in Chess but lack of sponsorship became an obstacle in his path. However, he continued honing his cricketing skills in his hometown, Jind. His father built him a playground using their agricultural land.
The leg-spinner was bought by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2014 and has gone from strength to strength over the years. He scalped 23 and 22 wickets in the 2015 and 2016 season, respectively. Chahal’s brilliant performances in the IPL earned him a national call-up. His 6/25 against England in 2017 in Bangalore is the best bowling figures in T20 internationals by an Indian.
The 29-year-old has a tally of 100 IPL wickets, which is a large testament to his knack of picking wickets as RCB play their home games at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. Chahal has become a vital cog of the Indian team in the limited-over format and will be looking to improve more in the years to come.
Andrew Flintoff – Boxing
Standing 6 feet 4 inches tall, over 220 pounds, Andrew Flintoff was a dynamo on and off the field. His heroics with bat and ball were pivotal in England winning the 2005 Ashes at home. He scored 402 runs in 5 matches including 3 fifties and a hundred. Kevin Pietersen was the leading run-scorer of the series. Both the batsmen scored runs at a strike rate in the 70s and with a tinge of brashness in their approach. Flintoff took 24 wickets at an average of 27 and ran away with the Man of the Series award.
After retiring from all forms of cricket in 2009, big Freddie chose to enter the Boxing field. His towering body size and brawny shoulders provoked him to step into the squared circle. On 30th November 2012, he had a bout against America’s Richard Dawson. Although Freddie won the match in the 4th round, he decided to end his boxing career.
The former England all-rounder has featured in plenty of TV films and documentaries. He has written books and is doing commentary in T20 leagues lately. The 41-year-old was one of England’s finest modern age cricketer and is put in the same brackets with Sir Ian Botham, deservedly so.
Sir Ian Botham – Football
Sir Ian Botham is renowned as one of the greatest all-rounders the game has ever seen. Over 5000 runs and 383 Test wickets account for his prodigious legacy. The right-hander became the first man to achieve a ‘double’ of scoring a century and picking a 10-wicket haul in the same Test match. His herculean efforts in the 1981 Ashes still resonates among the cricket fraternity.
Not only he was a great cricketer but also a talented footballer. Botham played football in school but chose cricket for a full-time career. Later, Botham made professional appearances as a centre-half from 1978 to 1985 for Yeovil Town and Scunthorpe United. He played 11 games in the English Football League for Scunthorpe United. With Yeovil, Botham appeared for the Football Association XI during the 1984/85 season.
He has turned a commentator but keeps himself involved in other sports like Golf and Shooting. The 63-year-old was named in the country’s greatest Test XI by the ECB on the occasion of England’s 1000th Test in August last year. He was knighted in 2007 and was inducted in ICC Hall of Fame in 2009.
Suzie Bates- Basketball
Suzie Bates is one of the most optimum all-rounders in Women’s cricket. Bates walks straightaway into any side on the back of her stellar career figures. She is the leading run-scorer for New Zealand in ODIs with over 4000 runs at 42 including 25 fifties and 10 centuries. She is also the all-time leading run-getter in Women’s T20 Internationals with 3100 runs to her name at an average of 30 to go with a century and 21 fifties.
The former White Ferns skipper has also represented New Zealand in Women’s Basketball in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. She was part of Christchurch Sirens in the Australian Women’s National Basketball league (WNBL). She starred in 24 games between 2007 and 2008 and then moved to Otago Gold Rush in 2009 and the Logan Thunder in 2010. But Bates had to give up Basketball after taking over the New Zealand cricket team captaincy in 2011.
Bates was the star player in the Women’s Big Bash League last year. She has 28 wickets and over 1300 runs and has led her team to their maiden Big Bash semi-final. The all-rounder is a two-time recipient of ICC Women’s ODI cricketer of the year, in 2013 and 2015, and also won the ICC Women’s T20I player of the year in 2015.
Ellyse Perry – Football
Celebrated as one of the greatest in Women’s cricket, Ellyse Perry made her international debut before turning 17 in July 2007. Starting as a bowling all-rounder, Perry was the leading wicket-taker for Australia in the 2010 Women’s T20 World Cup. Her three-wicket haul in the final against New Zealand guided the team to the title.
As a teenager, Perry played football for Matilda. Less than a month after making a debut in international cricket, she made her maiden appearance for Australia football team as well. She represented Australia in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and became first from the country to play in both cricket and football World Cups.
She also represented Sydney FC in the Women’s league. As a defender, Perry took part in the 2008 Asian Games and scored a goal against South Korea. She has also hosted a football show called, ‘Football Stars of tomorrow”.
Perry is the number one all-rounder in ODIs and T20Is in the ICC rankings. She is the only player to achieve the double of a thousand runs and 100 T20 international wickets. In the 2013 Women’s World Cup final against West Indies, despite ankle pain, the 28-year-old bowled and ended up with magnificent figures of 3/19. She has been Australia’s superstar in the Ashes as well. She bagged the player of the series in 2015 after being the highest run-scorer and the highest wicket-taker.
Nathan Astle – Autoracing
Nathan Astle is one of the many prolific all-rounders New Zealand has seen in the past couple of decades. Astle is one of the premium batsmen in the New Zealand cricket history. He scored over 7000 Test match runs and 4000 ODI runs with 27 centuries combined. He was also more than handy medium pacer, just like the rest of Kiwi all-rounders.
He took part in three World Cups and retired weeks before the 2007 mega event in West Indies. After cricket, Astle developed an interest in the field of Auto racing. In 2010, he took up Autoracing as a profession. He competed in Ruapuna Speedway in Christchurch, in the modified sprint car category. In 2013, he came third in the South Island Champs on the same track. The former Blackcaps opener is determined to achieve success in this field and has been competing regularly.
The 47-year-old holds the record for fastest Test double hundred which he achieved in 2002 against England at Christchurch. Astle was awarded New Zealand’s ODI batsman of the year in 2006. The right-handed all-rounder also holds an unwanted record of most ducks in World Cup cricket, which is a less known fact.
Sir Don Bradman- Squash and Golf
The number 99.94, relates to only one man – The greatest. The best. The Don. Nobody is anywhere near to Sir Donald Bradman’s cosmic career average of a 99.94 and the next best is Steve Smith with an average of almost 65. In those days the frequency of cricket matches played was much less than today. Bradman made sure the fans count every moment of his career. He notched up 29 centuries which included 12 double centuries and 2 triple tons in 52 Test matches.
The paramount cricketer also found comforts in different sports. After moving to Adelaide in 1934, Bradman was engaged in Squash which was the flavour in the city. The don of cricket became South Australian state champion squash player in 1939. Besides that, he also played Billiards and Golf. In golf, he won the Mount Osmond Golf Club Championship in 1935 and 1949. He kept playing the sport until his late 80s.
In the 1930 Ashes in England, Bradman broke all hell. He scored a mammoth 974 runs in 7 innings of 5 matches; a record which hasn’t been broken till date. In his last innings, Bradman required 4 runs to maintain an average of 100 but was dismissed for a duck on his second ball. Bradman’s name has been etched on stamps, coins, roads, ICC Hall of Fame, a Bradman museum, besides the cricket’s folklore.
Denis Compton- Football
Denis Compton was an English great in the World War II era. Compton is in the elite list of players to score more than 100 first-class centuries! He played his entire first-class career for Middlesex scoring over 38000 runs with 123 centuries and 183 fifties. He scored his first Test century in the 1938 Ashes at the age of 20. His career expanded for 20 years as he amassed 5807 runs in 78 test matches at an astonishing average of 50 comprising 7 centuries.
Also, Compton was keenly interested in Football. He began his career at non-league Nunhead in the 1933-34 season. He made a move to Arsenal as a winger and made his debut there in 1936. Winning the league in 1948 and FA Cup in 1950, he scored 16 goals in his professional football career before suffering a knee injury and giving up on it.
However, Compton’s cricket career was glorious. The right-handed batsman was the lone fighter in England team in the 1948 Ashes. Against Bradman’s ‘invincibles’, Compton scored 184 at Trent Bridge and a fighting 145 at Old Trafford where the next highest score in the innings was 37.
Similar to many players of that generation, Compton lost few cricketing years because of the Second World War. He served in India in the army during that period. In 2009, Compton was inducted in the ICC Hall of Fame. There is a stand named after him at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, Compton Stand in his memory.
Sir Vivian Richards – Football
Sir Isaac Vivian Richards is hailed to be the most intimidating batsman in the last quarter of the 20th century. There was swag, there was the elegance and a ‘look at me’ strut walk in his approach to the pitch. He backed it all with his batting. Then there was brilliance, class, and aggressiveness in his batting. Those were the days without the helmets, but still, there was a scare in the opposition camp as he marked his guard.
His numbers clearly echo about his prominence as a batsman. In a 17-year-long career, he scored 8540 Test runs at an average of 50.24 with 24 centuries and over 6000 ODI runs at 47. Sir Viv was once in a lifetime cricketer. He appeared in the 1975 and 1979 victorious World Cups for West Indies. It is learned that Richards also played international football. He played for Antigua and Barbuda in the qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup 1974. He is an ardent supporter of English football club, Liverpool FC.
Off-field honours followed his cricket achievements. In 1994, he was appointed the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). In 2006, he was prized the Knight of the Order of the National Hero (KNH), which is the highest award in Antigua. The West Indies cricket board has also built The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua which has been in use since the 2007 World Cup.
Jonty Rhodes – Hockey
Not with the bat or ball, but Jonty Rhodes conjured one of the greatest moments in cricket history when he leapt and dived to run-out Inzamam-ul-Haq. A bird, a plane, a cheetah, and several other names were given to him for his outstanding fielding throughout his career. Jonty made the backward point position largely significant. Batters wouldn’t dare to take him on for a tight single.
His nimbleness in the field could be accredited to his fond of playing hockey before cricket. He was part of South African hockey team which did not qualify for the 1992 Olympics. Later on, he was called up for trials for the 1996 Olympics but had to pull out due to a hamstring injury.
Hailed as the greatest fielder of all-time, Jonty’s had a rather muted career with the bat until 1998, when he made changes to his batting technique. He averaged 45 and 50 in 1998 and 1999, respectively. He has been the fielding coach of South Africa and Mumbai Indians.
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