Cricket’s Craziest Names

There is nothing quite like the Ashes. And what follows, friends, is nothing like it either. Time watching cricket is never wasted, as you know, so drawing on the rich history of the game, I’ve concocted 50 teams of genuine international players and arranged them into proper teams: with one twist. They are selected according to their names. It’s absurd, yes. That’s why I called it Cricket’s Craziest Teams.

Below, especially for James and The Full Toss, is a starter guide to the teams, but this XI is made up of players in the present series who will explain for you what the idea is all about. OK, let’s go.

Number one: David Warner.

Warner opens for the Hotels and Resorts XI, alongside Hilton Cartwright, a plush combination who will settle in nicely and test the covers. Ian Bell is in that team to keep the boundaries ringing up – yes, he’s a good four-poster. This team makes it through to tea but falls around in the final session after having too many cocktails.

Number two: Rory Burns.

Rory is on my cover putting out a fire. He’s already chalked up a ‘Crispy Fried Duck’ and Rory opens for my Illnesses and Ailments XI, which is a team for our times. Tim Paine features in this as the ‘keeper, as does Kiwi all-rounder Ted Badcock and Indian seamer R Surti. We will not enquire too deeply into their conditions. If you catch Flooi du Toit (South Africa, 1892, left arm medium) you could end up Ron Gaunt (Australia 1960s, right arm fast). They would not let either past the check-in at Perth.

Number three: Dawid Malan.

Malan, sounding like Milan, is a slight cheat but a critical part of my International XI. The European force is strong with this team, because they encompass Lee Germon (NZ, 95-97) and Bruce French (Eng, 86-88). Doing his suspect valleys accent is Courtney Walsh (WI, 1984-2001) who holds the Test records for ducks, something Rory has his eye on albeit from the opposite end of the batting order. Moving south, Chris Jordan and Ronnie Irani are clearly going to be next to each other.  When watching this team, feel free to give your Bucharest.

Number four: Steven Smith.

Everybody knows how much Smith stands out as a player. Well, not any more. Because he’s one of 11 Smiths now. This team of Smiths is led by South African Graeme, and includes ‘The Judge’, Robin, alongside the historical C Aubrey Smith (Eng, 1888-89) who is the only player to captain the only Test they played. He emigrated to Hollywood, starred in the Prisoner of Zenda, organised cricket there for the likes of David Niven, and was once accidentally pronounced dead. That’s enough foe one lifetime, or two, depending how you count. This team was selected by my friend Ed Smith, who was not good enough to play for it.

Number five: Joe Root.

Joe had to defer to Smith on his favoured place in the order and he represents my Trees XI, which is opened by recent Indian coach, Ravi Shastri. This is one of the more poplar teams. I don’t know why, but they didn’t want to play in the Ashes. The wicket-keeper is West Indian Carlton Baugh (WI, 2003-12). One or two players got left out and are still pining about it.

Number six: Travis Head.

Happy days when the headline read: Woakes Traps Head. After I’d realised it wasn’t a terrible injury, I put Head in my Body Parts XI, which also stars Janardan Navle (India, 1932-33) Doug Insole (Eng, 1950-57) Archibald Palm (SA, 1927-28) and Gavin Tonge (WI, 2009). I included Pakistani Aftab Baloch despite medical advice. I could not find a place in this team for Gladstone Small because I didn’t want to stick my neck out.

Number seven: Jos Buttler.

Jos is a batsman only for the Restaurant XI which re-unites him with Alastair Cook (“chef”). Cook opens alongside Jack Hobbs (Eng, 1907-30) – what a combination that would be for ultimate Fantasy cricketists. There’s Butcher (Basil, WI, 1958-69) and Baker (Lionel, WI, 2008-09) but no candle-stick maker, only Graeme Cremer (Zim, 2005-18) who would feed nicely Richard Spooner (Eng, 1951-55) our wicket-keeper. This team will always play well: they don’t want to be panned.

Number eight: Chris Woakes.

Ah, now, here’s the thing. What possible theme could Woakes represent? He’s in my Rhyming XI. We all know Stokes, Woakes and Foakes, and of course, the classic Lillee, Willey and Dilley, but do you remember Brookes, Hookes and Crookes? (WI, Aus, SA.) Or Wood and Studd? (Aus, Eng.) Well now you do, and voila, or viola, if you’re musical. 

Number nine: Mitchell Starch.

Starch is bound to bowl a few stiffeners at the opposition so he’s in my Household XI. Joined by Aussie John Dyson, and if you listen closely through the dressing room wall, you can just hear him going over a few things. Delighted to say women form part of many teams, so welcome to Lorna Kettles, Aussie seamer in the 1930s when the first women’s Ashes Tests were played. Commentator Rob Key is in this XI too. If you remember, he could sometimes have trouble turning.

Number ten: Josh Hazlewood.

Hazel almost made it into the Colourful XI, which could feature Cameron Green too of course, alongside the likes of Ian Redpath (Aus, 1964-76) and Gordon Greenidge (WI, 1974-91). It was good to get Scotsman Dougie Brown into this team (1997-2007) and Jade Dernbach (Eng, 2011-14) whose mother was surely expecting a girl? There are no eligible players called Pink, but you can guess how tickled I’d have been to include one.

Number eleven: Jack Leach.

Leach isn’t in the book, but he’s in a team for my next volume – the Medieval XI which may well feature the likes of Nick Knight and would warm the heart of the late Roy Castle. Or he might appear in my Medical XI which would probably have Ian Ward in it. So many decisions.

There’s 50 teams, all equally bonkers, together with unique cartoons, stories and stats, all completely true but scarcely believable. On the cover, Moeen Ali, cutting the grass for the Gardening XI, alongside Rory, who, let’s face it, is going to need a laugh.

Mark Slattery, author, Cricket’s Craziest Teams, available from Amazon.


  • Used to play a cricket dice like game when I was a kid called ‘Owzat’ where you roll 2 metal 6-sided cylinders, one with the runs and ‘Owzat’ the other with the results of any appeal. You can still get it now. This was perfect for making up your own teams. My favourite was the nickname side. Later on when I started to read cricket books one of my favourite titles was ‘The Demon and the Lobster’ about the overlapping careers of Spofforth and Arthur Jephson, the last great underarm lob bowler. A great read for all who love true eccentrics. The nicknames for Victorian and Edwardian players were generally more imaginative than now.

  • Great fun.
    You might also start a ‘combinations’ eleven, with (predictably) Curry and Rice being contenders.
    Peter Drake
    teacher, cricket nut, Hexham

  • Keeping up with the Joneses XI:

    Alan Jones Glamorgan, one ‘Test’ vs. RoW in 1970)
    Richard Jones (NZ batsman, one Test)
    Andrew Jones (NZ stalwart)
    Dean Jones (Deano!)
    Percy Twentyman-Jones (SA, one Test pre-WW1, made a pair)
    Arthur Jones (captain, great handlebar ‘tache)
    Geraint Jones (plucky runs, dropped catches)
    Sammie Jones (Aussie all-rounder pre-WW1)
    Simon Jones (what might’ve been…. )
    Ernie Jones (best pre-WW1 Aussie paceman reputedly)
    Jeff Jones (Simon’s dad and decent seamer himself)

    Overall: strong seam attack and decent middle-order but lacks a spinner and openers may struggle.

    Coach: Chris Silverjones.

  • Film Stars XI:
    Andrew (‘Rock’) Hudson
    Mark (‘Elizabeth’) Taylor
    Robin (‘Will’) Smith
    Martin (‘Russell’) Crowe (they are actually related)
    Alec (‘Jimmy’) Stewart [wk]
    Alan (‘Orson’) Wells
    Chris (‘Jerry’) Lewis
    Eddie (‘David’) Hemmings
    Robin (‘Hugh’) Jackman
    Mark (‘Natalie’) Wood
    Duanne (‘Laurence’) Olivier
    Coach: Mickey (‘Jean’) Arthur.

    Jazz XI:
    Bryan (‘Lester’) Young
    Richard (‘Wes’) Montgomerie
    Charlie (‘Miles’) Davis
    Kevin (‘Oscar’) Pietersen
    Paul (‘Charlie’) Parker
    Warwick (‘Louis’) Armstrong
    Richard (‘Art’) Blakey [wk]
    Mitchell (‘J.J.’) Johnson
    Jason (‘Dizzy’) Gillespie
    Joel (‘Erroll’) Garner
    Kemar (‘Max’) Roach
    Coach: no coach, they’d improvise.

    (Of course if one used Peterson more than once one could include Alviro and Robin and have an all-Test, better balanced XI).

  • What is this shit?

    How about Dawid Malan?

    It’s David, you muppet. Was there a typo on your birth certificate?

  • Time for some high culture (and low attempts at humour):

    Composers’ XI (with some spelling liberties):
    Matthew (‘Joseph’) Hayden
    Jeet (‘Maurice’) Raval
    Dean (‘Edward’) Elgar
    Andrew (‘Richard’ or ‘Johan’) Strauss
    Tony (‘Edvard’) Greig
    Glenn (‘Peter’) Maxwell Davies
    Godfrey (‘Thomas’) Evans
    Neil (‘Richard’) Wagner
    Neil (‘Ralph Vaughan’) Williams
    Geoff (‘Malcolm’) Arnold
    Jade Dern-Bach

    Chaucer’s XI
    Alastair Cook
    Nick Knight
    Vijay Merchant
    George Bailey (the name of The Host)
    Keith Miller
    Dermot Reeve
    Matt Prior-ess
    James Franklin
    Geoff Miller
    Tony Mann-ciple (first and I think still only Test centurion as nightwatchman)
    Nick Cook

    Shakespearean XI:
    Warren Immortal Bard-sley
    Reg (Lead on Mac) Duff
    Seymour The Nurse
    Ashwell Prince Hal
    Bruce Edgar from King Lear [wk]
    David Capel-ulet
    Graeme Sweet Swann of Avon
    Hamish Anthony and Cleopatra
    Shane Warne aka Old Gobbo from ‘The Merchant of Venice’
    Matt Henry the IV Part 1
    Omar Henry the IV Part 2
    12th Man: Alf One of Two Gentlemen of Verona Valentine
    Coaches: Edward De Vere, Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon and probably others as well
    Commentary: by Gower, a messenger..

  • Politcal XIs:

    US Presidents:
    Ulysses S. Grant Flower
    Archie Andrew Jackson
    Frank Rutherford B. Hayes
    Jimmy John Quincy Adams
    Colin James Munro
    Neil Lyndon B. Johnson
    Sammie Jimmy Carter [wk]
    Don Woodrow Wilson
    Fred Harry Trueman
    Richard M. Nixon McLean
    Les Zachary Taylor

    British PMs:
    Steve James Callaghan
    David Cameron Bancroft
    David Lloyd George
    Stuart Andrew Bonar Law
    Andrew Ramsey McDonald
    Brian Harold McMillan
    Philip Neville Chamberlain [wk]
    Ted Heath Streak
    Tim Theresa May
    Simon Gordon Brown
    Bob Tony Blair

  • Two vaguely Christmas-y ones compiled when Australia’s tail were pummelling Chris Woakes:

    Dickensian XI
    Smike Hussey
    It was the Carlisle Best of times
    Rahul Dravid Copperfield
    Damien Martyn Chuzzlewit
    Mark Nicholas Nickleby
    Travis Our Mutual Friend
    Please sir, I want some Kiran More
    Chris Old Curiosity Shop
    Andy Pick-wick Papers
    Michael Ebe-Neser Scrooge
    Dombey and Son-ny Ramadin
    Social media manager: Tiny Tim Paine

    Monopoly XI
    Pall Mall Loye
    Martin Old Kent Road
    Peter May-fair
    Joe Vine Street
    Marcus North-umberland Avenue
    Jack Bond Street
    Chris Coventry Street
    Jim Parks Lane [wk]
    Graham Picca-Dilley Circus
    Jo Angel Islington
    Lester Square King

    And one nothing to do with Christmas:

    Welsh Place Names XI
    Barry Richards
    Devon Conway
    David Gower
    Travis Holy-Head
    Tony-Pandy Greig
    David Capel Curig
    Jermaine Blackwood [wk]
    Phil Newport
    John Snow-don
    Lam-Peter Martin
    Caer-Phily Tufnell
    Commentary: Rob Cross-Keys

  • Beatles XI:
    Oh, Rick Darling!
    Neil Father McKenzie
    Fool on the Clem Hill
    All you need is Martin Love
    Craig Serjeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
    Trevor Penney Lane
    Graeme Fixing a Hole
    Godfrey Mal Evans [wk]
    Doug Ring-o
    Vinodhan John Lennon
    Jackson Black Bird
    12th man: Jade Dern-bach in the USSR
    Umpire: Nigel Llong and Winding Road

  • Animals XI:

    Tony Woodcock
    Rob Tur-Key
    David Ba-Boon
    Colin Cow-drey
    Allan Lamb
    Hubert Dog-gert
    Jack Russell [wk]
    Eddie Lemmings
    Matthew Hog-gard
    Kemar Cock-Roach
    Mason Crane

    Artistic XI
    Jason Roy Lichtenstein
    Hue Morris
    Lou Vincent Van Gogh
    Ian Bell Epoque
    Everton Matisse
    Michaelangelo Mathews
    Bruce French Impressionist
    Shaun Jackson Pollock
    Chaminda Can-Vass
    Muttiah Mural-itharan
    Shaun Tait Gallery
    12th man: Chris Old Master

  • With a health warning that acute sleep deprivation produces an increased tolerance for bad puns, here are two more:

    Plants XI
    Marcus Tree-scothick
    Len-til Hutton
    Ian Blue-Bell
    Owais Fu-Shah
    Donald Carr-nation
    Alan Oak-man
    Trevor Gard-enia
    John Snow-drop
    Dennis Lily
    Tony Holly-Lock
    Tim Wall-Flower
    Coach: Trevor Bay-Leaf

    Biblical XI:
    King David Warner
    Trevor A-Gripper
    Joe Solomon
    Greg The Gospel According to Matthews
    Gerry Alexander the Great [wk]
    So-Dominic Cork
    Chris River Jordan
    Brett Gali-Lee
    Greg Doubting Thomas
    Paul Al-Lot
    Michael Beer-sheba

  • Longer than Labuschagne XI (4 syllables or more – no Sri Lankans allowed):
    Doug Marillier
    Hamilton Masakadza
    Alvin Kallicharran
    Mohammed Azharuddin
    K.S. Ranjitsinhji
    Andy Ganteaume
    Pochiah Krishnamurthy [wk]
    John Inverarity
    Mandie Mitchell-Innes
    Mahendra Nagamootoo
    Bhagwat Chandrasekhar
    Umpire: Srinivas Venkataragahavan.
    (Our all-spin attack will break new ground – seamers appear to keep their names short!)

    Pink Floyd XI:
    Fat Old Sun-il Gavaskar
    John ‘Richard’ Wright
    Alex Run Like Hales
    Ian the Division Bell
    Nick Speak to Me
    Gary ‘Dave’ Gilmour
    Keith Piper at the Gates of Dawn [wk]
    Geoff Arnold Layne
    Adan Coulter-Nile Song
    Nick Mason Crane
    Alan Donald’s Psychedelic Breakfast
    Coach: Kevin Shine On You Crazy Diamond

  • Poetic XI:
    Rory (‘Robbie’) Burns
    Wayne (‘Philip’) Larkin-s
    Ed (‘James’) Joyce
    Tony (‘C.S.’) Lewis
    Lionel (‘Alfred Lord’) Tennyson (they were actually related)
    Grant (‘T.S.’) Elliott
    William Jos Buttler Yeats [wk – just about]
    Pat (‘e.e.’) Cummins
    Merv (‘Ted’) Hughes
    Tim (‘Robert’) Southee
    Tim May-a Angelou
    Umpire: Nigel Llong-fellow
    Match reports: Simon (‘Oscar’) Wilde

    Colourful XI:
    Rory Au-Burns
    Ian Red-path
    Bill Brown
    George Gunn-metal
    Kumar Sangria-kara [wk]
    Craig White
    Cameron Green
    Reg Scarlett
    Tony Gray
    Marlon Black
    Chris Silver-wood
    Match reports: Scyld Rasp-Berry

  • Science XI:
    Johannes Kepler Wessels
    Trevor (‘Benjamin’) Franklin
    Neil (‘William’) Harvey
    Ken (‘Ernest’) Rutherford
    Gus Logie Baird
    David (‘Robert’) Hooke(s)
    Shane (‘James’) Watson
    Ian (‘Elizabeth’) Blackwell
    Damien (‘Alexander’) Fleming
    Harry (‘Robert’) Boyle
    Wayne Daniel Bernouli
    N.B. One of the batsmen will have to keep wicket – probably Wessels.

    London XI:
    Graeme St John’s Wood
    Martin Kent-ish Town
    Croy-Don Bradman
    Greg White-Chappell
    Ken-nington Barrington
    Ben Stokes Newington
    James Cock-Fosters [wk]
    Omari Banks-side
    Steve Finn-sbury Park
    Alan Chisle-Hurst
    S.F. Barnes
    Umpire: Alex Canary Wharf

  • Game of Thrones XI:
    Joffrey Boycott
    Craig Sun-Spearman
    Michael (‘Emelia’) Clarke
    Tom Winter-Fell
    Andrew Harren-Hall
    Rod (‘Bowen’) Marsh [wk]
    Brienne of Tarth Le Roux
    Mitchell (‘Ned’) Starc
    John Snow
    Ollie Dragon-Stone
    Reon Kings-Landing
    12th man: Dom Bess-os
    Coach: Chris Whispering-Wood (no spin and short of batting – his sort of team!)
    Commentary: Peter West-eros and Peter White-Walker.

  • US TV XI:
    Bob The Simpsons
    W.G. Will and Grace
    Joe Roots
    Ashwell Fresh Prince
    Stuart L.A. Law
    Shai Chicago Hope
    Alan Knott’s Landing [wk]
    Everyone loves Raymond Illingworth
    Arthur Gilligan’s Island
    Ray Price is Right
    Angus Frasier
    12th man: Mark Dead-Wood
    Coach: The Muppetts.

    Heavy Rockers XI:
    Phil (‘Gene’) Simmons
    Matthew (‘Joe’) Elliott
    Whole Lotta Martin Love
    Steve Aero-Smith
    Greg Ritchie Blackmore
    Travis Motor-Head
    A.C./D.C. Smith [wk]
    Dio-n Nash
    Mark (‘Judas’) Priest
    Brett Lee Roth
    Nehemiah (‘Joe’) Perry

  • Simpsons XI:
    Bob Simpson
    Rory Mr Burns
    Reg Duff
    Steve Smith-ers
    Martin Kent Brockman
    Moe-een Ali
    Cameron Ever-Green
    Bart Simpson-King
    Sideshow Bob Taylor [wk]
    S.F. Barney
    Chris Martin Prince

    I’ve a Z in my name and am not from Pakistan XI:
    Billy Zulch
    Zak Crawley
    Vijay Hazare
    Baz Zuiderent
    Zander de Bruyn
    Gerry Gomez
    Tim Zoehrer [wk]
    Willie Rodriguez
    Zaheer Knan
    Monde Zondeki
    Nuwan Zoysa


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