Tiger, pigeon, pup and monkey — cricketers nicknamed after animals: Guest Column by Kersi Meher-Homji

Posted by on Friday, June 30th, 2017 in Cricket



   The Tigers (above) – Bill O’Reilly, Ernest Smith & MAK Pataudi and The Pup (below) – Michael Clarke


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

Mule Francis.


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.

16 responses to “Tiger, pigeon, pup and monkey — cricketers nicknamed after animals: Guest Column by Kersi Meher-Homji”

  1. Venkat says:

    Good one as usual Kersi… An interesting add would be the Pollock brothers…Graeme was Little Dog and Peter was Big Dog

  2. KK says:

    Mitch Marsh used to be called Bison, and Jhonty Rodes as Sparrow..

    • Anindya Dutta says:

      Apparently someone on a tour game glued a picture of Mitch Marsh’s head on a bison and it fit perfectly, the nickname stuck.

  3. Naresh Sadasivan says:

    Really funny one. Great read. Coincidentally, I was working on something along “quirky” names – will send it to Anindya sometime soon.

    • Anindya Dutta says:

      Look forward to it Naresh. Can’t promise I can find a pic of a pup with a higher cuteness quotient though

  4. Chinmoy Jena says:

    Why was Monty Panesar called “Python?” Matt Renshaw is “Turtle.” Greg Ritchie the Australian batsman was called “Fat Cat.”Where do you fit in Dave “Tadpole” Mohammed the West Indian cricketer?

    • Anindya Dutta says:

      Great ones Chinmoy! I guess Panesar was an obvious one because of Monty Python. He could not possible have been given another nickname given his first name!

  5. Kersi Meher-Homji says:

    Thank you all for the additions.
    I have a nickname for both CA and ACA, mules! Can’t they talk over their differences like adults rather than behaving like spoilt brat mules?

  6. Abhishek Mukherjee says:

    A couple more:
    Fish Markham
    Old Fox Grimmett
    Guy the Gorilla Botham
    Arkle Randall
    Stoat Gower
    Foxy Fowler (counts?)
    Tiger Lance
    Tiger Chanderpaul
    Mantis Coney
    Cockroach Atherton (durability)
    Pig Styris (pigheaded)
    Gogga Adams
    Slug Ervine
    Catfish Hopes (terrible beard)
    Turtle Renshaw
    Rhino Gough
    Rhino Harris

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