Clockwise from top left: Alec and Eric Bedser, Steve and Mark Waugh, Hamish and James Marshall, and Jane and Jill Powell © Getty Images
Clockwise from top left: Alec and Eric Bedser, Steve and Mark Waugh, Hamish and James Marshall, and Jane and Jill Powell © Getty Images

James Ormond’s “at least I’m the best player in my family” sledge to Mark Waugh was certainly not an exaggeration. Ormond could have stretched things one level further, for Mark Waugh was not even the best player born on his birthday in the family. That honour lies with Steve, not as elegant as his younger twin but definitely the greater batsman. In a twisted turn of fate, Mark got his Test cap by replacing Steve in the XI.

But the history of twins in cricket isn’t restricted to the Waughs. There have been several pairs at the highest level. We will dig a bit deeper and find a list of such pairs, at least one of whom have played at international level and the other at least some form of domestic cricket.

1. Lisle and Vernon Nagel: born March 6, 1905 at Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

Lisle Nagel, a medium-fast bowler, played one Test for Australia, but that was in the Bodyline series. He made his way to the Test side in a tour match against the tourists, who were shot out for 60 as Nagel bowled unchanged for 8 for 32. He took 2 wickets in his only Test and never played again.

Twin brother Vernon also bowled medium-fast. Vernon played 4 matches for Victoria, but the brothers never played together.

2. Rene Shevill Harris and Fernie Shevill Blade: born August 20, 1910 at Sydney, Australia

This section may require careful reading. Rene and Fernie were younger sisters of Essie Shevill Nann, and all three played Test cricket.

Essie (batter who bowled leg-breaks) and Fernie (left-arm fast bowler) made their debuts in the first ever Women’s Test, in 1934-35. Fernie was dropped after the first Test. Essie was retained, and the side had a new wicketkeeper — Rene. Essie and Rene played the third Test as well.

Thus, the Test careers of all three sisters lasted one Test series. While Essie played all 3 Tests, the twins didn’t get to play together.

3. Alec and Eric Bedser: born June 4, 1918 at Reading, Berkshire, England

They say only their mother could tell Alec and Eric Bedser apart. Everyone knows about Alec, who lion-heartedly carried England on his shoulders in the early post-War years. Alec Bedser took 1,924 wickets at 20. He also retired as Test cricket’s leading wicket-taker, with 236 at under 25.

However, off-spinner Eric lasted longer at First-Class level, and claimed 833 wickets at 25. He could have had more — but with Jim Laker available, he was always Surrey’s second-choice off-spinner, and Tony Lock’s presence did not help matters.

The Bedser twins remained bachelors, stayed together till the end, and shared excellent rapport. When another Bedser family in East London had twins on May 20, 1948, the boys were promptly named Alec and Eric. Alec played thrice for Border, though Eric did not.

4. Azmat and Sultan Rana: born November 3, 1951 at Lahore, Pakistan

Azmat should have played more than that solitary Test, against Australia at Lahore in 1979-80. He batted once and scored 49. Of course, it was on a flat track — so much so that Pakistan employed ten bowlers in the second innings (Azmat was the only one who did not get a bowl). He also played 2 ODIs. His First-Class batting average of 48 was more impressive than Sultan’s 29, though Sultan kept wickets at times.

Elder brother Shafaqat played 5 Tests in the 1960s, but the most famous name of the clan did not play a Test. Shakoor Rana will forever be remembered in cricket, albeit not for the best of reasons. Shakoor’s sons Maqsood and Mansoor also played ODIs in 1990, albeit in separate matches.

5. Jane and Jill Powell: born January 19, 1957 at Sheffield, Yorkshire, England

Jane Powell’s legacy is more as a coach, though she did well in her 6 Tests (281 runs at 35) and 24 ODIs (463 at 33). She played her cricket mostly in the 1980s — after Jill’s career got over. Jill played a Test and an ODI, both in 1979, and did not exactly set the ground on fire.

6. Elizabeth and Rosemary Signal: born May 4, 1962 at Feilding, Manawatu, New Zealand

History was created on July 6, 1984 at Headingley, when Liz and Rose Signal became the first twins to play international cricket together. Rose did not play another Test, and had 6 ordinary ODIs. Liz did not do too much either, though her stint (6 Tests, 19 ODIs) was longer.

7. Steve and Mark Waugh: born June 2, 1965 at Canterbury, New South Wales, Australia

Between them, the Waugh twins played 296 Tests, scored 44 less than 19,000 runs with 52 hundreds, took 151 wickets, and held 293 catches. From 569 ODIs their tally stood at 16,069 runs, 21 hundreds, 280 wickets, and 219 catches. Steve also led one of the greatest sides in the history of the sport.

There is little one can add to numbers like that. Dean, a younger brother, played for both NSW and South Australia, while Daniel played Second-Class cricket. Steve’s son Alex has also played for Australia Under-19s.

8. Ata-ur- and Zia-ur-Rehman: born March 28, 1975 at Lahore, Pakistan

Ata-ur-Rehman is remembered most as the man who replaced Wasim Akram in the 1996 World Cup quarter-final. He might have had some chance had he been born in another era, but even without Wasim, Ata had to fight against Waqar Younis and Aaqib Javed for a regular spot. His 13 Tests and 10 ODIs were mostly eventless.

Zia played 10 First-Class matches without much impact. Two elder brothers (both mysteriously called Tariq Mahmood) were also First-Class cricketers.

9. Everton and Darlington Matambanadzo: born December 1, 1976 at Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe)

Everton Matambanadzo and Mpumelelo Mbangwa created history in 1996-97 when they became the first black pair to open bowling for Zimbabwe in a Test. Everton’s 3 Tests fetched only 4 wickets, but his 11 ODI wickets came at under 20. His twin brother Darlington also bowled pace, mostly for Mashonaland.

10. Brian and David Murphy: born December 1, 1976 at Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe)

Brian Murphy’s leg-breaks fetched him 18 wickets in 11 Tests at 62. Even at First-Class level he averaged 47 with ball. It was, thus, surprising that he was asked to lead Zimbabwe on their 2001-02 Bangladesh tour. The Murphy twins played 3 Under-19 Tests and an Under-19 ODI each — all of them together.

11. Hamish and James Marshall: born February 15, 1979 at Warkworth, Rodney, New Zealand

Spectators, umpires, and fielders were ready for serious confusion when James Marshall made his Test debut, against Australia in 2004-05. Nobody could tell the twins apart till Hamish decided to have mercy and put on wrist-bands.

Hamish (13 Tests, 652 runs at 38) had a superior career to James (7 Tests, 218 at 20). Hamish also had a stint with Gloucestershire. However, James holds the record for most runs (161) in his final ODI.

12. Isobel and Cecelia Joyce: born July 25, 1983 at Wicklow, Ireland

The Joyce twins hail from Ireland’s greatest cricket family. Elder brother Ed played for England, then Ireland; Dom, the next brother, played only for Ireland; and Gus, older than Ed, played for Ireland as well, but the match didn’t get international status.

The sisters, nearly identical in appearance, follow different disciplines. Isobel, a left-arm medium pacer, has 66 wickets from 78 ODIs at 30 to go with her 995 runs at 17. Cecelia is essentially a batter, has got her 1,146 runs at 23. Isobel, the superior of the two, also played in Ireland Women’s first ever till date, and for Hobart Hurricanes Women this season. John Anderson, Isobel’s husband, has played for Ireland too.

And what was the name of the patriarch of the Joyce family? Why, James Joyce!

13. Alex and Kate Blackwell: born August 31, 1983 at Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia

Indian fans will remember Alex Blackwell very well. Australia went for the chase in the 2017 World Cup semi-final after Harmanpreet Kaur, with her iconic 171*, had put India to the safety of 281 for 4 in 42 overs. They became 169 for 9 before Alex launched a furious assault. Her 56-ball 90 gave India a serious scare — more so because 2 of her 3 ODI hundreds have come against them. She also plays for Sydney Thunder Women as well as for Otago Women in New Zealand.

Kate played less Test cricket (4 Tests to Alex’s 12) despite having a slightly superior batting average. She has not, however, played international cricket since 2008 and professional cricket since 2014.

14. Mark and Maurits Jonkman: born March 20, 1986 at The Hague, Netherlands

Mark has played 16 ODIs and Maurits 4 (Mark has also played 3 T20Is), but never together. Mark could generate serious pace, but his excellent bowling averages (24 in ODIs, 12 in T20Is) are bloated by performances against Associate Nations. Maurits never played against a Test-playing nation either.

15. Anisa and Alisa Mohammed: born August 7, 1988 at Trinidad

At the time of writing, Anisa — already a limited-overs legend of women’s cricket — has the most ODI wickets for West Indies (145). She was also the first bowler in the world to reach the hundred-wicket mark in T20Is. She remains the only one to the landmark till date. Her 4-0-19-1, the most economic figures from either side in the 2016 World T20 final, were crucial in West Indies winning the trophy. Yes, she is one phenomenal off-spinner.

Anisa was not even 15 when she made her international debut, and rose fast as her side’s premier spinner. Twin sister Alisa, also an off-spinner, has played for Trinidad & Tobago in regional cricket.

16. Sarah and Adam Coyte: born March 30, 1991 at Camden, New South Wales, Australia

Sarah and Adam Coyte are the only different-gender twins on the list. A canny seamer and a handy lower-order batter, Sarah has been out of the Australia national side for some time — though she played for Sydney Sixers this season (she had earlier played for Adelaide Strikers). Despite playing 2 Under-19 ODIs, Adam never played First-Class cricket. Their elder brother Scott had played for Australia Under-19, New South Wales, and Sydney Thunder.

17. Kyshona and Kycia Knight: born February 19, 1992 at Barbados

Neither Knight sister bowls, and none of them averages over 20 with bat across formats at international level. It is, thus, surprising that Kycia has played almost a hundred internationals and Kyshona over fifty — more so because West Indies are an outstanding side, especially in T20 cricket. Of course, Kycia does keep wicket.

18. Craig and Jamie Overton: born April 10, 1994 at Barnstaple, Devon, England

The tall and lanky Jamie can clock up to 150 kph, which was perhaps the reason for him being summoned for the 2013-14 ODI series in Australia. He did not get a chance, but continues to bowl fast for Somerset amidst injuries. Craig, slower but fitter, made his Test debut in the 2017-18 Ashes; his first wicket was Steven Smith, clean bowled.

19. Sikander, Saqib, and Asad Zulfiqar: born March 28, 1997

Zulfiqar Ahmed, the father, had represented Netherlands in the ICC Trophy after moving from Sialkot. Against UAE at Amstelveen in 2017, his sons — Sikander, Saqib, and Asad — became the first known set of triplets to play for an ICC-recognised 50-over match. Asad scored 15, Saqib 11, and Sikander 41*.

Unfortunately, Netherlands did not have ODI status at that point. Of the three, Sikander played 2 T20Is in 2016 without much success.

20. Waqas and Sarfaraz Khan: born March 10, 1999

On November 14, 2014, Waqas Khan of Hong Kong became the youngest to play T20 International cricket, at 15 years 259 days. He is more or less a regular in the Hong Kong ODI and T20I sides. Before that he played for Hong Kong Under-19s, for whom, on May 10, 2013, he played alongside Sarfaraz. Waqas (60*) and Sarfaraz (51) added 90 runs in 74 balls. Then they opened bowling; Waqas took the first 4 wickets for 32, while Sarfaraz got 1 for 34. Few pairs of twins have managed to rout an international side on their own in such fashion!