Sports is a universal language that more often than not transcends boundaries and joins people across nations together. It also brings players of different sporting disciplines together. Ask any sportsperson which sport they preferred while growing up, and the reply will always be in the plural. A true sportsperson always tries their hand at as many sports as they can.
Players from one sporting discipline have in many instances switched to other sport in the latter stages of their careers. Several cricketers across the cricketing world played different sports before turning pro in cricket. The age-old adage, ‘Jack of all trades master of none’ has been proved wrong by these five cricketers in the list that ranges from yesteryear’s legend Sir Vivian Richards to modern great Ellyse Perry.
Sir Vivian Richards
The swashbuckling Caribbean cricketer has represented his country in both World Cup cricket and World Cup football (albeit, just the qualifying stage). Richards represented Antigua and Barbuda in the qualifiers for the 1974 World Cup in football.
After Antigua finished at the bottom of their group with a goal difference of -19 after losing 1-11 to Trinidad and Tobago, and 0-6 to Suriname, Sir Vivian Richards hung up his boots from the game. His team might have not performed well but that led to Viv Richards focusing his full attention towards cricket.
As a result, the mighty West Indies team won two World Cups in 1975 and 1979, with Viv Richards being the key contributor. He hit a hundred in the final of the 1979 World Cup at Lord’s---a dream for most cricketers.
One of the modern-day greats, Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry is undoubtedly the most valuable player in the star-studded line-up of Australia. However, she has also made quite a name for herself with achievements in football.
Perry has represented the Australia football team at the international level 18 times. That’s not all, Perry has also played for Canberra United and Sydney FC, two prominent clubs of Australian women’s football setup. At one time in her career, she was juggling between the national team of both sports but had to ultimately pick the 'Baggy Green'.
Ellyse Perry has won five World Cup silverware trophies with the Southern Stars since her debut in October 2007.
One of the few spinners that have got the measure of the dreaded Chinnaswamy Stadium, Yuzvendra Chahal, or 'Yuzi' as he is called by the teammates and fans represented India in chess during his younger years. Chahal played chess from 1997 to 2003, before switching to cricket as a professional.
In 2002, Chahal won the National Under-11 Championship in Kolkata. The following year, he took huge leaps in his board-game career and represented India at the World (Under-12) Championship in Halkidiki, Greece. He played against the likes of Grandmasters of today like Eltaj Safarli at the Asian and World Junior Championships.
Yuzvendra Chahal still has an Elo rating of 1956 on the International Chess Federation website which is quite remarkable, given he has not played competitive chess for a long period.
Jonty Rhodes, the South African cricketer who is credited for revolutionizing the fielding standards of modern cricket had initially taken to hockey before switching to cricket. Rhodes was picked in the 1992 South Africa Olympic squad to go to Barcelona. However, the squad did not qualify to go to the tournament. Jonty later made his Test debut in the same year against India at the iconic Kingsmead ground in Durban, mustering 41 runs and 26 runs in the first and second innings respectively.
Eventually, Rhodes was also called up for trials to play in the 1996 Olympics again but as luck would have it, he was ruled out due to a hamstring injury. It would have been a revelation to watch Jonty perform his acrobatic theatrics on the hockey playfield.
Sir Ian Botham
Another all-rounder in the list is prolific England all-rounder, Sir Ian Terence Botham. Known for desecrating the opposition with both ball and the bat, Botham was a talented footballer who ultimately made the switch to cricket.
Ian Botham played for Yeovil United and Scunthorpe United as centre-half from 1978 to 1985. Botham donned the football jersey for only 11 times in his career as he made the call to pursue a career in cricket. The Cheshire-born cricketer went on to score over 7000 international runs with 500 wickets in his kitty, earmarking himself as one of the greats of cricket.
However, his love for football never died down as Sir Ian Botham was appointed as the President of Scunthorpe United F.C in 2017.Published 01 Jun 2020, 18:31 IST