Tiger, pigeon, pup and monkey — cricketers nicknamed after animals: Guest Column by Kersi Meher-Homji
From the 19th century till recent times, cricketers have had nicknames, from odd to contrasting to bang
on target. And what a range — from Tiger O’Reilly, Slasher Mackay, Phantom Lawry, Chappelli, Tangles
Walker and Henry Lawson to Afghan Mark Waugh, Dizzy Gillespie, Pigeon McGrath and Pup Clarke.
But let me restrict myself to cricketers with Animal Nicknames for this article.
There were three Tigers: the great Bill O’Reilly, Ernest Smith (11 Tests for England in 1910’s) and
Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (India’s captain in 1960’s and 1970’s).
Now for some Marine Life; Digby Jephson of Cambridge University and Surrey was called Lobster and
Sir Henry D.G. Leveson Gower (three Tests for England in 1909) had the unflattering nickname of
Nicknames were not restricted to these two categories by any means.
Tall and slim Australian all-rounder Hunter Hendry (11 Tests between World Wars) was called Stork
Hendry. Then there were two Australian Test cricketers in 1970’s, Alan Froggy Thomson and Bruce
Joel Garner, the tall West Indian fast bowler, was nicknamed Big Bird after a character in the children’s
TV serial Sesame Street.
England’s pace bowler Geoff Arnold had the pet name of Horse because of his initials ‘GG’ which is
Cockney for horse.
England’s Albert N. Hornsby was nicknamed Monkey and was not offended. He had played three Tests
for England from 1879 to 1884, opening the batting with WG Grace in his final Test. He captained
England in the 1882 Oval Test when the legend of Ashes was born. He also represented England in nine
Rugby Tests. And he was proud of his nickname. Those days, monkeys did not have racial connotations.
Australian spinner Bruce Yardley was Roo for his bouncing kangaroo-like approach to the wicket.
Cat seems a favourite nickname. The eccentric English spinner Phil Tufnell went by the pet name of Cat.
Also the former West Indian captain Clive Lloyd was nicknamed Big Cat for his agility on the field.
Simon Katich is called Kat but that is a short form of his surname.
Former NSW medium-pacer Aaron Bird (not to be mistaken with the current fast bowler Jackson Bird)
was nicknamed Flu from Bird Flu. But he was not allowed to retain it as many thought it to be offensive
for those affected with the disease. Birdy became a more acceptable nickname.
Pigeon McGrath flew away from Test scene in 2007 and Pup Clarke left his paw marks on international
cricket after calling it a day in 2015.
Readers of Cricket Writer are requested to add to my list.