John Snow © Getty Images
Former England bowler John Snow © Getty Images

John Snow, born October 13, 1941, remains one of English cricket’s greatest fast bowlers. He shares his name with one of the most popular characters on the TV show ‘Game of Thrones’, adapted from George RR Martin’s book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire. Shiamak Unwalla looks at a few more connections between cricketers and fictional characters.

1. John Snow — Jon Snow, Game of Thrones: The England fast bowler John Snow was famous for simultaneously being a poet as well as a fearsome tearaway. He was unpredictable and often unruly on the field, getting into frequent altercations with authority figures including his own captains. He had hit Terry Jenner on the head, and shoulder-barged Sunil Gavaskar to near-oblivion.

Jon Snow (note the absence of an “H” in the first name), on the other hand, is the mild-mannered, soft-spoken protagonist of Game of Thrones. Known as “Ned Stark’s bastard boy,” Jon is a series favourite, and one of the key characters in the show and in the books. He is portrayed by Kit Harrington in the show.

    John Snow (left) was a fearsome pace bowler, while Jon Snow spends a lot of time brooding © Getty Images and winteriscoming.net
John Snow (left) was a fearsome pace bowler, while Jon Snow spends a lot of time brooding © Getty Images and winteriscoming.net

The “bastard of the North’s” quiet, brooding personality is in sharp contrast to that of the fiery England pacer.

 

The-Doctors
WG Grace (left) was one of cricket’s earliest superstars, while The Doctor (portrayed above by David Tennant) is a British icon © Getty Images and galleryhip.com

 

2. WG Grace — The Doctor, Doctor Who: Often referred to by his profession, Dr WG Grace was cricket’s first superstar and perhaps one of the most recognisable faces in world cricket even now. His billowing beard and stern eyes were immortalised by the venerable troupe of Monty Python, who used the cricketer’s likeness as God in their film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The character of The Doctor is the protagonist of the BBC science fiction TV Show Doctor Who. The show, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, is about a time-travelling alien known simply as The Doctor who travels through time and space with his (usually) Human companions, saving the day and helping people. Through a process called “regeneration,” The Doctor can change his appearance, thereby enabling him to cheat death. This handy plot device has enabled as many as 13 actors to portray the character of The Doctor.

While both WG and The Doctor are iconic in their own right, the personalities of both men also have a few commonalities. WG was known for being rather proud of his abilities, and didn’t enjoy losing. The same could be said about The Doctor.

 

The-Godfathers
Don Bradman (left) ruled the cricketing fields, while Don Corleone ruled the Italian Mafia in New York City in the 1940s © Getty Images

 

3. Don Bradman — The Don, The Godfather: Sir Donald Bradman, statistically the greatest Test batsman across eras is a modern cricketing legend. The Don, as he was called, retired with a batting average of 99.94, a feat unmatched in over 100 years of Test cricket. Readers did not have to look at the back cover of Jack Fingleton’s Brightly Fades The Don to find out who the book was based on.

Marlon Brando’s iconic role in The Godfather as Don Vito Corleone, called The Don, was based on Mario Puzo’s literary classic of the same name. The Don was a massively influential and powerful crime lord who lived by a strict code of ethics, and managed the biggest mafia family in New York in the 1940s and 1950s.

Both Dons commanded immense respect, but also had more than their share of detractors and critics. Both were known for being the best at what they did, and for being thorough professionals.

 

The-Professors
Mohammad Hafeez (left) is known as The Professor, but he neither a doctor nor a teacher unlike the X-Men’s Professor Charles Xavier © Getty Images and comicvine.com

 

4. Mohammad Hafeez — The Professor: Mohammad Hafeez is known to be a thinking cricketer. It is perhaps for that reason that he is known by the moniker The Professor.  He is a sometimes-opener and part-time off-spinner of considerable skill and guile.

In terms of fictional characters, there are innumerable Professors to choose from; Utonium (Powerpuff Girls), Charles Xavier aka Professor X (X-Men), Roy Hinkley (Gilligan’s Island), Hubert Farnsworth (Futurama), James Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes), and Cuthbert Calculus (Tintin) just to name a few. If one counts Harry Potter alone, there are more Professors than can be listed, not least among whom are Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall.

Hafeez admittedly is neither a teacher nor a scientist, and therefore does not share quite the same aspects of his illustrious fictional counterparts.

 

Big-Birds
Joel Garner (left) towered over the batsmen at nearly 7 feet, but even he was dwarfed by the eight-foot yellow Muppet! © Getty Images and reddit.com

5. Joel Garner — Big Bird, Sesame Street: Also known as Big Bird, the tall West Indian speedster stood at a thoroughly imposing 6’8”[i1] , and bowled with a high arm action while in the air. As a result, the ball would be delivered from a height of around 10 feet. His height and pinpoint accuracy meant that Joel Garner ended his career as one of the most economical bowlers of all time.

The giant yellow Muppet of Sesame Street, Big Bird actually stands over a foot taller than Garner at 8’2”[i2] . Unlike Garner, however, Big Bird is a sweet-tempered (though Garner was pleasant, he was certainly not sweet-tempered!) and slightly gormless character much loved by children. He also has the distinction of having made cameos in shows such as The Simpsons and Family Guy.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)