On this day (April 16) in 1878, former England captain RE Foster was born. When you prefix the words ‘former England captain’ to Foster, it could mean two different sports as he is the only sportsman to have captained England in both cricket and football.
In recent years, there have been many sportspersons who have played multiple sports at the top level. Did you know that WTA world number one Ashleigh Barty played nine matches in the first season of the Women’s Big Bash League?
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, on the other hand, represented India in chess at the youth level while former New Zealand batsman Nathan Astle tried his hand at football and auto-racing, and South Africa’s Jonty Rhodes played hockey at the state level.
Here are five sportspersons who’ve played international cricket this century and have also played other sports at a senior level. (Please note that this isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list)
Currently, no batter has scored more T20I runs than New Zealand’s Suzie Bates. In 118 international innings in the format, she has scored 3243 runs at an average of over 30.
The Dunedin-born cricketer has a splendid record in ODI cricket too, having scored 4534 runs at an average of 42.77. In fact, she is only one among two batters (the other being Meg Lanning with 13) to score at least 10 centuries in women’s ODIs. In addition to her batting skills, she has also taken 124 wickets in international cricket.
Cricket is not the only sport that Bates has played at the top level in. She is one of the few cricketers to have played international cricket and participated in the Olympic Games. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Bates was part of the New Zealand basketball team. She recorded 12 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists and two steals during the competition.
Andrew Flintoff had a superb international cricketing career where he starred as an allrounder for England for more than 10 years. In total, he played in 79 Tests, 141 ODIs and seven T20Is.
While he played very few T20Is, his record in the other two formats are extraordinary. His heroics during the 2005 Ashes will be remembered for a long, long time. In five Tests during that series, the Preston-born cricketer scored 402 runs and took 24 wickets. Unsurprisingly, he won the Compton-Miller Medal as the best player of the series with England regaining the Ashes after 18 years.
After retiring from international cricket, Flintoff has had a successful media career. In addition to that, in 2012, he also took part in one professional boxing match which he won on points.
During Kenya’s run at the top level in international cricket, one of their most well-known cricketers was left-arm spinner Aasif Karim. Karim played in 34 ODIs between 1996 and 2003 and participated in three World Cups.
During Kenya’s run to the 2003 World Cup semi-finals, Karim played in four matches. His most memorable performance came against world champions Australia when he took three wickets and conceded just seven runs from 8.2 overs which included six maidens (economy rate - 0.84).
Before his international cricket career, Karim played tennis and was a part of Kenya’s Davis Cup team in the late 1980s.
Ellyse Perry is one of only few cricketers to have played World Cups in two different sports. While she’s already recognised as one of the greatest cricketers ever, she represented Australia in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. During the tournament, she made two appearances and scored one goal.
Playing as a defender, Perry represented Central Coast Mariners, Canberra United and Sydney FC in Australia’s W-League. Over the last few years, she has stopped playing football professionally and has placed all her attention on cricket.
Perry has been one of the most consistent all-round cricketers over the last decade. She averages over 50 as a batter in both Tests and ODIs. While she is currently the third highest wicket-taker in ODIs, she has an average of less than 20 as a bowler in Tests and T20Is.
Before Perry, there was Clare Taylor who played in both the cricket and football World Cups. After winning the World Cup in cricket in 1993, she played in all four of England’s matches at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
In cricket, Taylor was primarily a medium pace bowler. She started her international cricket career in 1988 and played at the top level until 2005. She played 16 Tests and 105 ODIs and took 25 and 102 wickets in the respective formats, and was the first woman to take 100 wickets in one-day cricket.
During her football career, she played as a defender and had also captained in the final of the Women's FA Cup.