Good knights

Jun 23, 2012, 09:30 IST | Team MiD DAY

West Indies fast bowling great Wes Hall is the latest to join the list of cricketing Sirs. Here are some other distinguished names...

Hall of fame
Wes Hall was the first West Indian to bag a hat-trick and was the hero of cricket’s first-ever Tied Test at Brisbane in 1960 (he bowled the last over). His autobiography is called Pace Like Fire and his bowling was just that.Apart from his cricketing feats, Hall (74) is also a preacher. 

Pic-Atul Kamble

Viva Viv!
Vivian Richards became Sir Vivian Richards on September 7, 1999. The great Antiguan titled his autobiography Sir Vivian and in it, he wrote: “The knighthood surprised me big time.

Sir Viv Richards.Pics/Getty Images

I had heard a little word here and there, but no one could confirm it until I was finally invited to Government House and had a meeting to discuss the possibility of receiving the honour and the protocol involved. “It is an honour to join Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Clyde Walcott and Sir Everton Weekes, Lord Learie Constantine and Sir Frank Worrell".

Master Hobbs
The original Master of batsmanship, England’s Jack Hobbs was knighted in 1953. He scored 197 first-class centuries and in the words of famous broadcaster John Arlott, Hobbs was “charming, kind, honest and modest, a God-fearing man with a splendid sense of humour.”

Cowdrey: Gentlemanly and brave
Former England captain Colin Michael Cowdrey was knighted in 1992 and according to Cricinfo, “was elevated to the peerage (Baron Cowdrey of Tonbridge) five years later and remains the only peer created on the basis of his services to cricket.”

However, the cricketing world must not forget Cowdrey’s 1974 bravado when he came out of retirement to face pace terrors Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in Australia at the age of 42. He passed away in 2000.

Vizzy, the rare Indian
The Maharajkumar of Vizianagram (or Vizzy) was the first cricketing personality to be knighted for his service to the game before his playing days were over.

He is also the one and only Indian cricketer to be knighted — on June 15, 1936 — before he made his Test debut for India on June 27 and captained the team as well. He was also known as Sir Vijaya Ananda. He was a controversial figure, who didn't make many friends.

Australian batting legend Sir Don Bradman remains the only Australian to be knighted for his services to the game. March 15, 1949 was a date to remember for Bradman as he was honoured by Governor General of Australia W J McKell. The knighthood came after a successful 1948 England tour, the last he undertook as a player.

According to biographer Irving Rosenwater, Bradman regarded the honour as a royal tribute to ‘the wonderful game of cricket and its importance in Empire relationships’. Rosenwater also wrote: “The Bradman knighthood was enthusiastically received throughout the cricket world as a fitting seal to a memorable career. Bradman received an avalanche of congratulations.”

Sir Frank Worrell was West Indies’ first great captain. He was a leader in the true sense of the term and that was not easy considering he was their first coloured full-time captain.

He encouraged positive cricket and spread the need to be sporting at all times. A batsman showing dissent after being given out was admonished immediately, no matter how great a player he was to the team. He lost his battle with leukaemia at 42 in 1967. Australia and West Indies play Test cricket for a trophy in his honour. He was knighted in 1964.

Sir Clyde Walcott was a hard-hitting batsman, who also kept wickets. He scored 3798 runs in 44 Tests. In 1993, he became chairman of the International Cricket Council and was knighted the following year.

India will remember Everton Weekes for his four successive hundreds in the 1948-49 series. While attempting his fifth at Chennai, he was run out for 90. He became Sir Everton in 1994 and has represented Barbados in the game of bridge.

Poor boy from Barbados ends up as a knight
The year after he played his last Test for West Indies in 1973, Gary Sobers was told by the British High Commission in Barbados about a recommendation for his knighthood. The night of the announcement, Barbados Prime Minister hosted a party for Sobers with famous singers Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck in attendance.

Her Majesty the Queen confers a knighthood on Gary Sobers at Barbados in February 1975. Pic courtesy: Sir Gary - A biography by Trevor bailey

The knighthood ceremony took place at the Garrison in Barbados in 1975 in the presence of 10,000 people. And when the Queen placed the sword on the cricket legend's shoulder, his son Matthew asked Mrs Sobers: “What's the lady doing putting that stick on Daddy’s shoulder?” In his book 20 Years at the Top, Sobers summarised the moment: “Who would have thought that a poor boy from a wooden house in Walcott Avenue would end up like this?”

Arise, Sir Botham
In May 2007, legendary England all-rounder got a letter informing him that he would be knighted in the Queen's birthday honours list. He was told to keep it under wraps. He did that, except when it came to his wife Kath, who was told about it. In his book Head On, Botham reveals that it was, "a torture to keep quiet about it but finally we called all the kids and grandchildren together the evening before it was officially announced." 

Former England cricketer Ian Botham shakes the hand of young Sri Lankan Tsunami survivor Duleeka Kumari in the village of Seenigama on April 20, 2005 during a visit to assess the damage done by the 2004 tragedy. Pic/AFP 

Botham reckoned the knighthood, "eclipsed great events in my life like my first Test match, Ashes victories and even Headingley 1981.” Botham's charity work too earned him his biggest honour. Apart from doing tremendous work towards leukaemia, Botham also took part in a charity event in Tsunami-affected Sri Lanka in 2005. 

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