Ranking the Top 30 Nicknames in Cricket History
Cricket is a sport that has produced any number of hilarious, catchy and instantly memorable nicknames over the years.
So many, in fact, that we have ranked the top 30 based on how recognisable, imaginative and fitting said moniker actually is, while these words of former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist also played a part in deciding the final order: "A lot of mind-power has gone into some nicknames"!
And so let us know your thoughts on those sobriquets that have, and have not, made the cut…
30. Michael Vaughan (Virgil)
Probably not a moniker that stretched the minds too much of the former England captain’s team-mates, based solely as it was on his apparent physical resemblance to Virgil Tracy from the TV series Thunderbirds.
Perhaps accurate, but less memorable…
29. David Lloyd (Bumble)
The ex-England coach and now legendary commentator is known simply as Bumble throughout the world due to his supposed likeness to The Bumblies childrens’ TV characters.
And while the similarities may be questionable, boy has the nickname stuck over the years!
28. Lance Klusener (Zulu)
The one-time South Africa all-rounder earned the nickname simply because of his ability to speak the language so well after becoming friends with a native African nanny and other children while growing up in Zululand.
Simple, to the point and memorable, but not a classic by any means.
27. Robin Smith (Judge)
Some players earned their respective nicknames due to a supposed likeness to someone or something, as was the case with the England batsman from the late-1980s to mid-1990s.
And anyone who knows what Smith looks like will agree that the South Africa-born star’s hair did bear an uncanny resemblance to a judge’s wig, hence the moniker that has stuck ever since.
26. Shahid Afridi (Boom Boom Afridi)
If you have ever watched the big-hitting Pakistan all-rounder bat, especially in the limited-overs arena, you will know exactly how he earned his sobriquet, with the powerful slogger striking at a scarily high 86.97 (Test), 115.61 (one-day internationals) and 144.04 (Twenty20) in his career.
25. Allan Border (Captain Grumpy)
After the great Australian captain had lost back-to-back Ashes in 1985 and 1986/87, he decided to stop being so chummy with many of his arch rivals on the 1989 tour of England, including opposite number David Gower and Ian Botham
And while the now non-smiling Border would go on to claim victory in the next three series against the old enemy, the skipper himself would thereafter forever be known throughout the world by his new name.
24. Monty Panesar (Monty Python)
The England spinner has been referred to by many a different name during his eventful career to date; however, Panesar is perhaps best known as Monty Python, a play on words based on the legendary comedy group of the 1970s.
23. Jason Gillespie (Dizzy)
The former Australia paceman’s sobriquet is derived from the famous American jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who he shared the same surname with—simple as that really!
Full marks for creativity, but that’s about it!
22. Shoaib Akhtar (The Rawalpindi Express)
OK, while this particular sobriquet may not have taken Shoaib Akhtar’s Pakistan team-mates very long to think up, based simply on where the paceman was born and the speed at which he bowled at, it has stood the test of time.
The player is still universally known as The Rawalpindi Express.
21. Phil Tufnell (The Cat)
Unlike former Chelsea and England goalkeeper Peter Bonetti, who earned the same moniker due to his feline reflexes, the Middlesex and England spinner was called The Cat for an entirely different reason.
And that was due to the tweaker’s renowned love of sleeping, often during a match itself, with Tufnell once memorably even missing the entire morning session of play while taking a nap as 12th man.
20. Michael Clarke (Pup)
The current Australia captain has been known as Pup ever since making his debut for his country 11 years ago, with his predecessor in the role, Ricky Ponting, supposedly the man who gave Clarke the moniker owing to the baby-faced features the 22-year-old had at the time.
"Being called Pup is fine," said Clarke, according to CricBuzz.com. "But they don't look at me like that anymore."
19. Andrew Flintoff (Fredalo)
The brilliant ex-England all-rounder has actually been known by a whole host of different nicknames during his colourful career, including the likes of just Freddie, as well as SuperFred and Mr. InFredible.
The Fredalo moniker involves just a neat bit of rhyming with one of the player’s aforementioned monikers and the vehicle in question.
18. Steven Finn (The Watford Wall)
The lanky England paceman earned his particular sobriquet after batting for an incredible five hours, including 203 balls, as nightwatchman to help salvage a draw in the first Test against New Zealand in March 2013.
And with the arch blocker being born in Watford, his team-mates had plenty of time while watching Finn bat in Dunedin to come up with this imaginative and highly fitting moniker.
17. Andre Nel (Gunther)
One of the more extraordinary and certainly imaginative monikers of recent years was that handed down to the one-time South Africa paceman by a member of the Proteas backroom staff, as Nel himself explains.
"It's my second personality. It's a nice German name. It's white-line syndrome. When I walk on the cricket field I get all worked up and quite aggressive," the fast bowler told ESPN Cricinfo.
And after team-mate Shaun Pollock wrote Nel’s new nickname on his run-up during a Test against Bangladesh and the player responded by taking six for 43, it has remained ever since.
16. Shane Warne (The King of Spin)
When you’ve captured a staggering 708 wickets in a glittering 15-year Test career as the world’s greatest leg-spinner, sometimes the best nickname is also the most simple too, as is the case here.
However, while both universally recognisable and highly appropriate, it is hardly the most imaginative of monikers, is it?
15. Sir Donald Bradman (The Don)
Some nicknames need no explanation, such as Donald Bradman’s, who was known simply as The Don after his first name both during and following his run-laden career.
It wasn't imaginative, but it was most definitely fitting and is universally known throughout the world to this day.
14. Ricky Ponting (Punter)
The former Australia skipper has always been referred to simply as Punter, and you should not need a rocket scientist to tell you that Ponting got the nickname due to his well-known liking for a bet or two, especially at the start of his glittering career.
And as monikers go, there is something especially catchy and memorable about Punter Ponting.
13. Sir Ian Botham (Beefy)
Short, sharp and to the point, as all good nicknames should be really, with the great England all-rounder revealing in this interview with The Times that he has been called Beefy ever since he was a young up-and-coming player at Somerset in reference to his at-times slightly meaty figure.
However, the fact that almost everyone throughout the cricket-playing world now refers to Botham just by his moniker shows it has well and truly stood the test of time.
12. Glenn McGrath (Pigeon)
The great fast bowler was known throughout his career as Pigeon, whether that be back home down under or wherever in the world the Aussie was performing.
And it was actually McGrath’s New South Wales team-mate Brad McNamara who originally came up with the name after first catching a glimpse of the paceman’s renowned spindly legs and reportedly commenting, per Steve Waugh in the Daily Telegraph: “You've stolen a pigeon's legs McGrath!''
11. Adam Gilchrist (Churchy)
Many monikers simply come about by accident, which tends to put them in the wittier category, such as that given to the former Australia wicketkeeper.
In fact, people would often wonder just why Gilchrist was nicknamed Churchy. Well, as the destructive left-handed batsman himself explains, reported on CricBuzz.com: "A young autograph hunter once approached me and said: 'Excuse me Eric Gilchurch, can I have your autograph?'"
And the rest, as they say, is history…
10. Ian Bell (The Sherminator)
It was leg-spinner Shane Warne who christened the England batsman the Sherminator during the Adelaide Test of 2006/07 due to the player’s likeness to the ginger-haired character in the film American Pie, according to The Guardian.
And after retiring, the Aussie tweaker would go on to reveal that he came up with the moniker while watching the movie with wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist during that infamous Ashes series down under.
9. Allan Donald (White Lightning)
Of course many nicknames refer to how a particular player played the game, with no better example of that being the ex-South Africa paceman who was considered to be the fastest bowler in the world during his pomp in the mid-1990s, hence his moniker White Lightning.
And there are few more fitting, recognisable and original sobriquets than this…
8. Brett Lee (Oswald)
When it comes to imaginative monikers, there are few better than that handed to the one-time Aussie fast bowler.
As it happens, Steve Waugh was reading out the order of the team’s batting lineup, with Brett Lee coming in after his brother Shane and all-rounder Ian Harvey.
“Lee, Harvey”, said the skipper, but before Waugh could say “Lee” again, Brett had a new nickname for life!
7. Rahul Dravid (The Wall)
After facing an astonishing 31,258 balls in 164 Tests at a strike-rate of just 42.51—more than any other player in the history of the game—the Indian batting legend’s nickname is truly fitting, as well as being one of the more imaginative on display here.
6. Peter Fulton (Two-Metre Peter)
Standing at a remarkable 6'8", the massive New Zealand batsman has earned one of the more clever, appropriate and original monikers on display here.
Not only that, but it also rhymes, while the opener is now known throughout the game simply by his newly acquired nickname!
5. Ashley Giles (The King of Spain)
When it comes to pure originality and recognisability, then there can be few better nicknames than that given to the former England left-arm spinner back in 2001.
At the time, Giles’ county, Warwickshire, had ordered a number of mugs for the club shop with the words “King of Spin” printed on them in recognition of their tweaker.
However, much to everyone’s horror, when the merchandise arrived at Edgbaston, they had the words “King of Spain” printed on them instead.
Incredibly, though, the misprinted items far outsold the originals, and so Giles was known thereafter as the King of Spain!
4. Mark Waugh (Afghan)
There was a period in the mid-to-late 1980s when, while Steve Waugh was a permanent fixture in the Australian Test lineup, his younger—and many thought more talented—twin, Mark, was continually overlooked by the national selectors down under.
Consequently, Mark earned his brilliant nickname in reference to the Afghan War of the time that was also known as the Forgotten War, which, as an innovative moniker, really is hard to beat.
3. Sachin Tendulkar (The Little Master)
India legend Sunil Gavaskar was the man first given the nickname Little Master owing to both his stature and brilliance with the bat.
So it says all you really need to know about Sachin Tendulkar’s record-breaking career that not only did the tiny magician also become known throughout the world by the same moniker, but that fittingly there is now only one Little Master.
2. Michael Holding (Whispering Death)
The tall West Indian paceman of the mid-1970s to mid-1980s has without doubt one of the most memorable, recognisable and apt sobriquets the game has ever seen.
In fact, Holding got given the nickname by umpires who said that the graceful fast bowler’s approach to the wicket was so smooth and effortless, that he made no noise at all during his run-up, while the latter part was in reference to his ability to nearly kill opposition batsmen with his fearsome bowling.
1. Mike Hussey (Mr Cricket)
However, when it comes to sheer originality, relevance and reach, there really are few better nicknames than that given to the former Australia batsman of recent times.
Hussey has always been referred to throughout the world simply as Mr Cricket due to the Western Australian’s unadulterated love of the game.
"I don't really like it. It’s a bit embarrassing. But if you show you hate it, they will call you it even more," the player told ESPN Cricinfo.
However, it was one-time England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff who first came up with the catchy moniker during a match between Durham and Lancashire at Chester-le-Street, when as the Aussie explains: "It was really cold, really wintry and I looked like I was enjoying it."
Any boy has the sobriquet stuck ever since…!