Hollywood’s 10 connections with cricket

While cricket is celebrated in numerous Bollywood movies, its connections with Hollywood are very few. Nishad Pai Vaidya spots a few cricketing connections of Hollywood. 


1.  Russell Crowe, Martin Crowe and Jeff Crowe   

(From left): Russell Crowe, Martin Crowe and Jeff Crowe
(From left): Russell Crowe, Martin Crowe and Jeff Crowe

Russell Crowe, the man who immortalised the lead character in the movie Gladiator, was born in New Zealand and is related to Kiwi cricketers Martin and Jeff Crowe. Russell Crowe remains one of the biggest stars in Hollywood having featured in other successful films such as A Beautiful Mind and The Insider to name a few. His cousins Martin and Jeff took to sport and carved successful careers in cricket. Martin Crowe went on to become one of the greatest batsmen to have represented New Zealand and was the first player to win a Player of the Tournament in a World Cup. Jeff Crowe is now a match referee post retirement.


2.  The Test captain who excelled in Hollywood


Sir Charles Aubrey Smith played a solitary Test match for England against South Africa in 1889 and marked the occasion with a five-wicket haul. A Sussex player, Smith captained England in his only match at the highest level. The county veteran turned to acting in his later years and eventually settled in America which paved his Hollywood career. In a long career, he acted in numerous films until he died at the age of 85 in 1948. Smith’s contributions were honoured by Hollywood when he was presented a star in the Walk of Fame. Even during his days in America he maintained his connections with the sport and founded the Hollywood Cricket Club (HCC).


3.  Hollywood Cricket Club


Aubrey Smith got some of his fellow actors to play for the Hollywood Cricket Club, among who was David Niven, one of the stars The Guns of Navarone. The club has also had other actors such as Laurence Olivier and Errol Flynn play for them. PG Wodehouse, the eminent writer, also represented the club. This club has also went on to employ the services of numerous international cricketers. More recently, Ajay Jadeja, the former Indian player, played for them while he was serving a ban following allegations of match-fixing. Gubby Allen, Rajesh Chauhan, Rajinder Singh Ghai and Nikhil Chopra are some of the other internationals who have played for the HCC.


4.  Mark Wahlberg and Barbados Tridents


When the Caribbean got its own Indian Premier League (IPL) style tournament, they roped in a couple of Hollywood stars to heighten the glamour quotient. The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) side Barbados Tridents boasts of having Hollywood star Mark Wahlberg as one of its owners. Wahlberg appeared in The Italian Job, The Departed, Shooter and The Fighter, to name a few. During the inaugural season of the CPL in 2013, he purchased an equity interest in the franchise. “I am a huge cricket fan now,” he proclaimed. Barbados went on to win the title in 2014 and made the final this year.


5.  Gerard Butler and Jamaica Tallawahs


On the CPL field, the Jamaica Tallawahs vs Barbados Tridents is considered a Chris Gayle vs Kieron Pollard affair. However, it is a battle between Gerard Butler and his fellow Hollywood actor Wahlberg. Born in Scotland, Butler went on to become an actor, which took him to Hollywood. He is best known for his role of King Leonidas in the movie 300. In 2013, he too entered the CPL bandwagon when he purchased an equity stake in the Jamaica team. He was not disappointed as the Gayle-led team won the title in the inaugural season.



6.  Raquel Welch and Fred Trueman

Raquel Welch
Image Courtesy: Getty Images

Raquel Welch was considered one of the sexiest women in Hollywood. She first shot to limelight in a short role in One Million Years BC and then went on to star in several films and television shows. Her son Damon married the daughter of former England fast bowler Fred Trueman, the first man to take 300 Test wickets. However, that marriage was short-lived.



7.  Shane Warne and Liz Hurley


One of the greatest spinners to have played the game, Shane Warne took over 1000 international wickets across formats and was an integral part of an Australian side that dominated world cricket in the 1990s and the 2000s. Warne was engaged to Liz Hurley, the actress and model, for some time. Hurley has acted in a few Hollywood movies but is better known as a model. She was seen at numerous cricket matches when Warne played, particularly in the IPL 2011. However, their relationship ended in 2013.



8.  Lord of the Rings


When England and New Zealand played a One-Day International (ODI) at Wellington in 2002, Peter Jackson recorded the sounds and the roars made by the crowd. Little did the spectators know that the recording would serve as a sound effect in a battle in the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers! Jackson, a Kiwi, is the director of the immensely popular Lord of the Rings trilogy.


9.  Mick Jagger obsession for cricket

Mick Jagger, the lead singer of ‘The Rolling Stones’ and his wife Bianca Jagger watching the final cricket Test between England and Australia at The Oval on August 10, 1972.

Mick Jagger, the legendary singer of Rolling Stones’ fame, acted in a few films and has also been a producer. Jagger is famous for his music career and is revered by millions of fans. He is also a familiar figure at the cricket ground, and attends numerous matches. It is interesting to note that he once invested money in a cricket-related venture called Jagged Interworks. Teaming up with Cricinfo, they started a webcast of a few cricket series in the 1990s. “Jagged Internetworks is a company founded to produce and promote sports and entertainment events on the Internet. The first sport we selected was cricket, because of my passion for the game,” he said.



10.  Dale Steyn in Blended

Dale Steyn, the Daniel Craig look-alike, appeared in an Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore starrer Blended in 2014. In a short role, Sandler makes Steyn bowl to a young boy for five Brooklyn t-shirts. Steyn, who strikes terror in the batsmen on the field with his fearsome pace, was made to ‘pitch’ gentle full-tosses in the film so that the boy could smash it around. Perhaps the best bowler of this generation, Steyn had to tone it down by several notches in the film. Steyn is perhaps the only modern-day cricketer to have featured in a Hollywood film. Derek Pringle, the former England cricketer, appeared in the movie Chariots of Fire, but it is a British Production and not one from Hollywood.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Mumbai-based cricket journalist and one of the youngest to cover the three major cricketing events — ICC World Cup, World T20 and under-19 World Cup. He tweets as @nishad_45)


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