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What’s in a name: 5 cricketers who changed their names

Modified 05 Apr 2020, 03:56 IST
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With the kind of popularity and following that cricket commands in India, cricketers are household names in this part of the world.

But have we ever thought about the story behind their names? Or what significance does any of the names on a cricket scorecard hold?

Let us have a look at five cricketers who represented their respective countries in international cricket and ended up changing their name, before or during their playing days, from the one they had at the time of their birth.

#5 Mohammad Yousuf

It is a misconception that Yousuf converted to Islam for captaincy
It is a misconception that Yousuf converted to Islam for captaincy

Perhaps the one name on this list that will strike the minds of cricket fans who have followed the sport in the past decade, Yousuf Yohana of Pakistan, converted to Islam and has ever since come to be known as Mohammad Yousuf.

Only the fifth non-Muslim player to represent Pakistan cricket internationally, and the only one to captain the team, Yousuf converted from Christianity in 2005, his decision being influenced by then-teammate Saeed Anwar. 

Many people believe that he switched religions only to be able to lead the Pakistan team. However, he had already filled in the shoes of the skipper in 2004, prior to his conversion.


Call it luck or call it divine intervention, 2006 was a year when his batting yield elevated him from just another batsman to a great. Having amassed 1788 runs at a Bradmanesque average of 99.33, Yousuf broke many records, including the one for most runs in a calendar year.

#4 Tillakaratne Dilshan

Dilshan changed his name after the adoption of Buddhism
Dilshan changed his name after the adoption of Buddhism

The man behind the ‘Dilscoop’, there was hardly anything on the cricket field that Dilshan could not do. Born to a father who belonged to the Islam following Malay group, Dilshan was named Tuwan Mohammad Dilshan at the time of his birth.

At the age of 16, after the separation of his parents, the Lankan veteran changed his religion to that of his mother - Buddhism and his initials TM have since then stood for Tillakaratne Mudiyanselage.

After being just another team member for most of his initial years in international cricket, Dilshan rose to the opportunity that came his way in the role of an opener.

The aggressive batsman amassed 7367 of his 10290 runs and 21 of his 22 ODI centuries at the top of the order. A recipient of 35 Man of the Match awards in international cricket, Dilshan will go down as one of Sri Lanka's greats to have played the sport.

Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi

Pataudi Junior was forced to do away with his princely title
Pataudi Junior was forced to do away with his princely title

While Yousuf and Dilshan had to undergo name changes due to the adoption of a different religion, the Nawab of Pataudi Junior had to undergo this change due to constitutional reasons.

He succeeded his father, Iftikhar Ali Khan or better known as Nawab of Pataudi Senior, as the sixth Nawab of Pataudi after the latter died when the former was just eleven. 

Having made his Test debut in 1961 and becoming India’s youngest Test captain in 1962, Pataudi continued to play under his older name till 1971 when the Government of India officially ceased to recognise princely titles.

In the limited appearances he made for India post 1971, he played under the name Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi.

The dashing batsman got to play only seven matches post his name change, and his batting form dipped drastically.

He had scored 2552 test runs at an average of 36.98 before 1971, a stark contrast to his tally of 241 runs at 21.9 that he managed hence. Tiger Pataudi, though, will be remembered for the boldness and self-belief character that he instilled in Indian cricket.

Bob Willis Dylan

Willis was one of England
Willis was one of England's most gritty and successful fast bowlers

Robert George Willis, better known as Bob Willis, was one of England’s most successful and penetrative fast bowlers of all time.

With 899 First Class and 421 List A wickets to his name, Willis goes down as one of the greats to have graced the sport.

However, even more interesting than his long bowling run-up is the story behind his eventual name Bob Willis Dylan.

The Englishman was enamoured by the singing talent of 1960’s American musician Bob Dylan to such an extent that he adopted the singer’s second name as a part of his own, through a deed pole- a legal document used for change of name- in 1965.

Willis will be remembered as one of the most courageous and gritty sportspersons to have represented English cricket. Having had two major knee operations at the age of 26, he prolonged his career till the age of 35 through sheer determination and will to deliver.

Suraj Randiv

Randiv converted to Buddhism after being born Muslim
Randiv converted to Buddhism after being born Muslim

Sri Lankan off-spin bowler Suraj Randiv is remembered for bowling the no-ball that denied Virender Sehwag a well deserved ODI century and eventually led to a one-match ban for the bowler.

Just like compatriot Dilshan, Randiv converted his religion to Buddhism in 2010 after being born as Mohamed Marshuk Mohamed Suraj in 1985 to a family that practiced Islam. He has come to be known as Suraj Randiv ever since.

In a Sri Lankan team that was looking to fill a huge void left by the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan, Randiv could not make a strong enough case for cementing his position. He only went on to play in 31 ODIs, 12 Tests, and 7 T20Is with 36, 43, and seven wickets being his respective returns.

Published 09 Mar 2018, 01:15 IST
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