Peter the cat was a quite familiar at Lord's (above) for 12 years © Getty Images
Peter the cat was a quite familiar at Lord’s (above) for 12 years © Getty Images

Peter, a black cat in the literal sense of the word, passed away on November 5, 1964. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the only animal to have appeared on the Wisden list of obituaries.

“He was a cat of great character and loved publicity.” — SC Griffith, Secretary of MCC.

Just like some of the legends of the sport, Peter preferred to rise to the big occasion — though he typically preferred to remain indoors, but came out when the matches attracted big crowds. His lustrous, dark fur and diminutive physique meant that he could not be spotted easily; however, those who were fortunate to spot his feline presence always cheered loudly at the sight of him.

Peter — sometimes referred to as the Marylebone Mog — was probably the most famous animal to have embraced the game. He was a regular at Lord’s, the Mecca of Cricket, for a span of 12 years; given that his entire life-span was 14 years, few humans have been as privileged to spend a proportion of life that high at  Lord’s.

He finally passed away — not of curiosity, we assume — on Bonfire Night in 1964. He is the only non-human to have made it to the list of Wisden Obituaries List — whose entry began thus: “CAT, Peter, whose ninth life ended on November 5, 1964, was a well-known cricket watcher at Lord’s…”

Years later, when Wisden decided to publish its anthology (edited by Gideon Haigh, no less) of unusual obituaries, they went on to name it after him — Peter the Cat and Other Unexpected Obituaries from Wisden.

The most amazing piece of information about Peter is perhaps the fact that he has possibly never been photographed. The most popular photograph that goes by his name probably belongs to his successor, Sinbad — and was taken during a 1963 match between Southern Schools and The Rest.

Despite the confusion that still hangs over his photographs, Peter had made numerous television appearances during his lifetime — where, we presume, he often got the commentator’s tongue.

(A hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiac by his own admission, Abhishek Mukherjee is a statistical analyst based in Kolkata, India. He typically looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – not necessarily as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the game with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a rather steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers the sport has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks and googlies in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in)