Cricketers in the IPL having earned some famous nicknames over the years. In general, players and nicknames have an intriguing connection. Often, they describe the kind of person a player is or the attributes they possess as a cricketer.
Venkatapathy Raju was nicknamed Muscles because of the lack of them. Former South African all-rounder Brian McMillan jokingly referred to him as Muscles, and the nickname just stuck.
Another interesting tale is of how Anil Kumble came to be known as Jumbo. Navjot Sidhu once referred to him as Jumbo Jet when one of his deliveries took off. While the Jet got dropped, Jumbo remained and became synonymous with Kumble.
IPL cricketers and nicknames
IPL too has its fair share of cricketers with nicknames. Take a look.
#1 MS Dhoni - Thala
While MS Dhoni has many nicknames like ‘Captain Cool’, ‘Mahi’ and ‘MSD’, when it comes to the IPL, he is Chennai Super Kings’ Thala. A head or leader is respectfully referred to as Thala in Tamil.
Dhoni has been CSK’s leader ever since the inception of the IPL back in 2008. And he has developed a special connection with fans of the franchise over the years. CSK fans revere their Thala.
The legendary cricketer has led the Chennai franchise to three title triumphs. Even though CSK struggled last year, the fans and the management have retained their faith in Dhoni.
After one of the matches in IPL 2019, Dhoni even thanked fans for honoring him with the nickname. He said:
"I have always said it's very special to get that kind of a nickname. It's a big nickname that they have given me. It feels really special. I didn't realise that it was part of the first CSK song.
"The way I got accepted and the whole of Tamil Nadu - whenever they see me they don't call my name, they call me 'Thala'. It's feels very special and they have always supported not only me but the whole team," MS Dhoni added at the post-match presentation ceremony.
#2 AB de Villiers - Mr 360
South African legend AB de Villiers has earned the nickname Mr 360 owing to his awe-inspiring ability to hit the ball all over the park. No matter where the bowlers bowl to him, he can manage to find the boundary at his own will.
Few batsmen are as consistently destructive in T20 cricket as De Villiers. Year after year, the humongously talented cricketer has come up with spectacular knocks in the IPL.
Last season, the former Proteas captain smashed 454 runs in 14 IPL games for RCB at a strike rate of 158.74 and an average of 45.40. He single-handedly won games for the franchise more than once, with his stunning big-hitting.
With 35 needed off 12 balls in a contest against Rajasthan Royals last year, De Villiers slammed Jaydev Unadkat for three consecutive sixes in the 19th over to kill RR’s hopes.
He also blasted an unbeaten 73 off just 33 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders on a tough Sharjah surface where everyone, including Virat Kohli, struggled. The RCB captain was unbeaten on 33 from 28.
The numbers relating to ABD’s genius are unending. You have to watch him play to believe how good he can be with the bat.
#3 Glenn Maxwell - Big Show
Australia’s flamboyant batting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell was given the nickname Big Show after after receiving an impressive IPL contract in 2013 despite being new to international cricket. The nickname stuck.
Over the year, Maxwell has been viewed as someone who is more of a show-off than a performer. He has some unbelievable batting talent, and on his day, he can make a mockery of any attack with his unconventional batting.
Maxwell’s switch-hits and reverse-laps have frustrated bowlers around the world, although the debate around its fairness continues. In the IPL, though, the Big Show’s impressive performances have been few and far between.
His shocking IPL record speaks for itself - 1505 runs in 82 matches at an average of 22.13. His strike rate is right up there - 154.67. However, his consistency has let down franchises year after year.
Last year, Maxwell, purchased by the Punjab Kings for INR 10.75 crore, managed only 108 runs in 13 games at a shocking strike rate of 101.88. Ironically, despite being a let-down, the Big Show was bought at the IPL 2021 auction for INR 14.25 crore by the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Back in 2015, Maxwell said about his nickname:
"I like to think I'm quite laid back and I can cop criticism but sometimes it hits pretty close to home and you sometimes think it's a personal attack on you. People have a crack at you for being something different, apart from the team. I don't want to be known as 'Big Show' or anything like that.”
#4 Chris Gayle - Universe Boss
West Indies legend Chris Gayle is nicknamed the ‘Universe Boss’ because of his superlative age-defying achievements in T20 cricket. Even though he has crossed 40, Gayle manages to come up with incredible T20 knocks, especially in the IPL.
Last year, the left-hander did not play half of the season for the Punjab Kings, but once he got a chance, he was at his brutal best. In seven games, Gayle hammered 288 runs at a strike rate of 137.14 with three fifties, shutting up ‘Doubting Thomases’, who were wondering whether he still had it in him to deliver.
Gayle has an amazing IPL record - 4772 runs in 132 matches at an average of 41.13 and a strike rate of 150.11. He holds the record for having hit the most centuries in the IPL - six.
He is also the top six-hitter in the league by some distance - 349. AB de Villiers is second on the list with 235.
That’s not all. Gayle also holds the record for having hit most sixes in an innings (17) and the fastest hundred (30 balls), both achieved during his stunning 175 not out off 66 balls for RCB against the Pune Warriors in IPL 2013. His unbeaten 175 is a record for the highest individual score in the IPL.
Last season, Gayle became the first player to smash 1,000 sixes in T20 cricket during his knock of 99 from 63 balls for the Kings XI Punjab against the Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi. Any more proof needed as to why he is the Universe Boss?
#5 Suresh Raina - Chinna Thala
If Dhoni is Thala, veteran batsman Suresh Raina has been given the nickname ‘Chinna Thala’ (Chinna means small in Tamil). Raina is basically the second-in-command at CSK.
The left-handed batsman was one of the first superstars of the IPL and among the key reasons why the franchise have been so successful in the T20 league over the years.
At his peak, Raina's consistency and ability to clear the field were almost unmatched in the IPL. He once held the record for the being the highest run-getter in the IPL.
Raina is still at No. 2 on the list of leading run-scorers in the league. In 193 matches, he has amassed 5368 runs at a strike rate of 137.14. He has one hundred and 38 fifties to his name.
Raina missed the IPL 2020 due to personal reasons and also announced his retirement from international cricket last year. CSK fans will hope their Chinna Thala still has some fire left in his belly for the IPL.