Did you know Shakespeare, Napoleon and even Christ played cricket?!!

That’s Yasir Arafat, not the PLO leader, but a Pakistan fast bowler! © Getty Images

By David Green

The following is a collection of cricketers with celebrated names and surnames:



Not the Son of God, but the less famous slow-left armer Charles who played 24 first-class matches for Queensland from 1937-47, and of whom Keith Miller once said: “I didn’t mind getting out in the first innings, after all Christ caught and bowled me!”

Julius Caesar


Nearly two millennia after leading the Roman invasion of Britain, batsman Julius Caesar made three centuries for Surreyduring the Victorian era. Like the first Roman Emperor, he also came to a sudden and rather unfortunate end in the month of March – nine days before the Ides -throwing himself underneath a train in 1878.

Chris Martin


When Mr Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t creating tuneful little ditties on the piano, picking at macrobiotic food or giving his children incongruous names, he also opens the bowling for New Zealand. Former Creation label boss Alan McGee, who famously described Coldplay as music for “bedwetters” would doubtless say that Martin’s bowling was even more insipid than his band.


William Shakespeare


To bat, or not to bat? This possibly was the question that crossed the mind of one William Shakespeare during his 26 matches for Worcestershire in the period immediately after the end of World War I.


Napoleon Einstein


Probably hailing from a family of Francophile scientific geniuses, this young all-rounder was part of India’s 2008 under-19 World Cup winning squad. Yet to play against England’s pace attack where doubtless he would meet his Waterloo.

Charles Dickens


The selectors of Griqualand didn’t heed this namesake of the famous Victorian author when he asked “please sir, can I have some more?” with his first-class career being restricted to just four matches despite one hundred in his eight innings.

Dick Whitington


Just one ‘t’ short of being Lord Mayor of London, this Mr Whitington went much further afield to seek streets paved with gold but had to make do with Adelaide and a cricket career with South Australia. Also had the quite remarkable middle name of ‘Smallpeice’ – no further comment necessary.

Thomas More


Lord Chancellor of England, author of Utopia and canonised saint was beheaded in 1535 for refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to Henry VIII as part of the King’s struggle to divorce Catherine of Aragon. Despite this minor inconvenience he was still able to forge albeit less eventful cricket career, kicking wicket for Minor County Shropshire.  

George Bernard Shaw


A giant of literature he may have been, but he lived a secret life as a little known left-arm spinner who played just 16 matches for Glamorgan in the early 1950s. 

King Cole


Not Nat, not Old, but just plain King Cole was a member of the pioneering Aboriginal touring team of England in 1861. Unfortunately, Cole’s talents as a cricketer will never be known as he sadly died of tuberculosis on the trip.

Robert Kennedy


And you thought that the brother and Attorney General of JFK had been assassinated when running for President in 1968. If he had taken the care to change his name then no one would have realised the cover-up when he turned up as a fast-medium bowler for Wellington who played four Tests for New Zealand in 1995-96. How’s that for a conspiracy theory?

12th man: Yasir Arafat


Just a couple of letters short of being the former head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the nemesis of Israel, this Pakistani fast bowler has sampled life in the far less oppressive Garden of England with Kent as well as spells with Sussex and Surrey.


(David Green is the brain behind the irreverent The Reverse Sweep blog and also writes for a number of cricket publications and sites such as World Cricket Watch. You can follow him on Twitter also@TheReverseSweep. David was a decent schoolboy and club cricketer (and scored his maiden 100 the same week that Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test ton) but not good enough to fulfil his childhood dream of emulating Douglas Jardine by winning the Ashes in Australia and annoying the locals into the bargain. He now lives with his wife and two young children in the South of France and will one day write the definitive biography of Hedley Verity)