Tour Diary: Lots of Johns, only one Liam

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The Independent Online

Idling away a few hours while Pakistan's sixth wicket was toying with England in the Third Test, the subject of singular names arose. The England Test squad contain five members who are the sole representatives bearing their particular handle. There has never previously been a Marcus, a Geraint, a Kevin, a Shaun or a Liam. While this is probably some kind of record of exclusivity in one side, it is not wholly a recent phenomenon. Some 76 of the 628 men who have won Test caps for England have not had company from others with the same first name. Of those, 30 have played in the last 20 years, since the only Bruce, French (left), made his debut. This reflects the modern tendency for novel names and the advent into the side of players of Asian descent. The other five names making up the most recent 10 newcomers are Ryan, Usman, Kabir, Gareth and Rikki. The list is partially subjective, because some players were known by other names. But the top 10 brooks little argument: John (48 examples including those, like Hobbs, who became known as Jack); William (24); George (22); James (16); Arthur, David, Fred (all 15); Charles, Francis and Richard (all 14). In all, again subjectively, 175 first names have been used. Perhaps the most exotic were Vallance, as in Jupp, an off-spinner who played eight Tests from 1921-28, and Septimus, as in Kinneir, who played his only Test in Sydney in 1912. And then Mohammad Yousuf (once Yousuf Youhana, but that's another name story) was at last out.

PRESIDENT'S BOUNCER: A veritable phalanx of the great and the good has been at the Lahore Test match, from the president of MCC, Robin Marlar, down. If, in these changed times, the MCC president can be said to be up from such dignitaries as the International Cricket Council's chief executive, Malcolm Speed, or the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, David Morgan. Not to mention the legendary pop lyricist, dreadful slow bowler and former MCC president Tim Rice, the only man to mention a cricketer (Denis Compton) in an Oscar acceptance speech. Marlar promises to be excellent value. He has been railing against the regulations over illegal actions. Marlar's undiplomatic stance appears to be: if they chuck, call 'em.

THE GRAND STANDS: Wherever you go to watch cricket in Pakistan, every stand and enclosure, almost every seat, is called after some former great or not-so-great. The most frequent is probably the Imran Khan Stand/Enclosure. Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis are not far behind, along with Hanif Mohammad. A H Kardar, Fazal Mahmood, Khan Mohammad, in the team when they first played Tests 54 years ago, also feature regularly. But the Taslim Arif Stand at Faisalabad seemed something of a mystery, as he played only six Tests and hailed from Karachi. However, in 1980 he made 210 not out against Australia - the highest score by a Pakistani on the ground.

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