Author : Sougat Chakravartty
Normally, you don’t expect celebrities to spend a lot of time watching an entire game of cricket, be it Test matches or ODIs. Twenty20, however, has broken the ice for those who have donned the greasepaint or have played to the gallery.
Since then, such personalities have deigned to be noticed at premier cricketing events, getting used to the finer points of the game, or simply soaking in all the adulation that the crowd usually reserves for exponents of the game.
The Indian Premier League has been one of the key showpiece events of the 21st century. The likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Shilpa Shetty and Preity Zinta have not only screamed their love of the game from the rooftops, but have also made shrewd investments by becoming owners of three key franchises. “Mixing business with pleasure” seems to have acquired a new meaning.
Here is a list of the top ten celebrity cricket fans around the world:
The Australian actor and producer, who shot to international acclaim playing the amnesiac mutant Wolverine in the X Men film franchise, disclosed in an interview that he is a self-confessed cricket nut. According to Jackman, he would appear in the stands for every single day of a Test match and would soak in the feeling of just being there.
In high school, the actor played both rugby and cricket, and involved himself heavily in sporting endeavours before switching his focus to the arclights.
The bete noire of British television personality Jeremy Clarkson and former editor of the tabloid News of the World was a promising fast bowler in his early years, and has remained a lifelong fan of the game ever since.
Morgan has played for his local team in the Newick region of English county Sussex since 1978, and has also hosted a game between his family and the Newick side since 2000, which included a famous “ringer”; the 2008 game had England batsman Kevin Pietersen in that role. A controversial character whether in front of the camera or off it, the 48-year old remains one of the many British celebrities to know about, and have admiration for, the gentleman’s game.
The star of blockbuster movies such as The Departed and Max Payne recently became a cricket convert after picking up a stake in the Barbados Tridents cricket franchise of the Limacol Caribbean Premier League in July 2013.
Although not privy to the nuances of the game as such, the 42-year old Wahlberg has been spending a lot of time with Ajmal Khan, the CPL’s founder and a personal friend. Perhaps his involvement might led to a resurgence in the sport’s popularity back home in the US?
The legendary musician has always been a keen follower of the game, and has usually made at least one appearance during Test matches. He makes it a point to play at the annual Bunbury cricket festival, though in 2003, he remarked that he would rather watch the game than play it.
For a guy who can make the guitar sing like a canary, Clapton might have been able to make it as a spinner. Cricket’s loss, music’s gain!
The Harry Potter actor once joked that he had had nightmares of then-England opener Andrew Strauss chasing him with a bat, during the on-going series with West Indies. He ‘overcame’ his ‘fear’ by queuing up with other fans for the autographs of Strauss and batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar on the final day of the Test match at Lord’s in 2007; he is a self-confessed fan of the latter.
Radcliffe was once a supporter of Fulham Football Club, but has now switched his attention to cricket, and manages to spend a few hours each day playing EA Cricket!
Cricket runs in his family; after all, not everyone can boast of having two former captains of the New Zealand team as cousins.
Russell Crowe, star of Gladiator and Man of Steel, watches and plays cricket, and captained an ‘Australian’ team (featuring former skipper Steve Waugh) against an English team in a Hollywood Ashes match. He has also been a guest commentator for Sky Sports during the second game of the 2009 Ashes.
Renowned as one of England’s all-time greatest strikers in football, the gray-haired Gary Lineker also excelled at cricket during his formative years.
Growing up in Leicester, Lineker captained the Leicestershire Schools cricket team from age 11 to 16 and felt that he had a better chance of success in this game rather than in football. He idolized former England captain David Gower, who played for that county at the time.
However, fate had other plans, and football gained what cricket eventually lost. Even so, Lineker was named Honourary President of the Paraguyan Elbows Cricket Club, based in Kent, in the late eighties.
As if Russell Crowe’s commentator stint was not enough, British pop star Lily Allen turned up at the Oval to cheer for England during the deciding match of the 2009 Ashes series.
Proudly displaying her support with a St. George’s flag painted on her cheek, Lily also showed some knowledge of the game, and was clearly enthralled by the proceedings on display, even posting some details on her Twitter page,
She has expressed a wish to get into cricket commentary after her singing career ends. Her fans would certainly hope so!
The aging frontman of the Rolling Stones has more to his personality than his geriatric pelvic thrusts and gravelly voice. He happens to be an avid cricket fan, and founded Jagged Internetworks to get coverage of English cricket.
The late umpiring legend Dickie Bird once stated that Mick loved his cricket, and is very much clued-in about the game. A stint as an umpire might help once you give up the microphone, Mick!
Her relationship with former Aussie leg spinner Shane Warne might have something to do with it, but British model and actress Elizabeth Hurley has appeared at a few games, mostly in support of the Rajasthan Royals.
Whether she knows a lot about the game or not is unclear, but she and Warne organized a cricket match for the Hop Skip and Jump children’s charity in June 2013; it featured Warne’s former teammates Ian Harvey and Merv Hughes, as well as Damien Martyn and former England players Darren Gough, David Gower and Shaun Udal.