Which of the ten teams in the World Cup tournament that England won yesterday had the most players with surnames beginning with the letter A?
And which one had the most players who have the same initial for first name and surname?
Do you know? Do you care?
My boyhood friend, Adam, about whose passion for West Indies cricket I recently wrote, is also fascinated by names. He often jokes that names can tell you everything and nothing about a person.
On the phone last week, he told me this: “The pretty-pretty, busy-busy gyul who use to live next to we on Green Street, “ent she did name Manning? And, look at you, you name Best.”
He says his fascination started years ago when we were still young men. I remember the day. I repeated to him Brian Johnson’s great line about: “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey, the keeper’s Knott” and he simply could not stop laughing.
Last week, he laughed heartily at his own joke.
“You laughing at me, bro?” I asked.
“Well, ent you always use to say who laugh last ent laughing at Best? I laughing last.”
He claimed that he had lost all remaining interest in watching the World Cup the moment India contrived to lose to England. In his view, it might have been a deliberate move to ensure that Pakistan, their age-old arch-rivals of whom they are deathly afraid, were knocked out of contention.
And, after reading “all dat shit you write yesterday” about how many Mohammads and Jasons had played in the World Cup, he had turned his attention to reading what he called ‘background stuff’ on the Internet.
That’s how he had picked up some interesting things he wanted to share with me. Number one was that eight of the 18 players on the Pakistani list had surnames beginning with the letter A: Safaraz Ahmed, Abid Ali, Asif Ali, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Babar Azam, Shaheen Afridi and Faheem Ashraf.
So now you know too.
Number two was that only five teams had any players with “double-barrel initials.” Sri Lanka had one (Dhananjaya de Silva), Australia and Pakistan two (Mitchell Marsh and Steve Smith and Abid Ali and Asif Ali respectively), Bangladesh had three (Mashrafe Mortaza, Mohammad Mithun and Soumya Sarkar) and Afghanistan had all of five (Aftab Alam, Asghar Afghan, Hamid Hassan, Samiullah Shinwari and Sayed Shirzad.)
I’m sure you didn’t know all that fascinating—and very useful—stuff. But thanks to Adam, you now do. I thanked him profusely for bringing it to my—and, through me, your—attention.
He also shared this: of Bangladesh’s 15-member squad only Liton Das, Rubel Hossain, Tamim Iqbal and Abu Jayed did not have a Christian name which did not begin with either the letter S or the letter M.
I couldn’t let him get away with that one; he had the facts right. But, I noted, one Jeffrey Vandersay played for Sri Lanka against WI at Chester-le-Street on 1 July. The first names of the other bowlers were Lasith, Isuru, Kasun, Dimuth and Dhananajaya.
Perhaps Jeffrey was Christian, I suggested. But Bangladeshis with Christian names?
Papa! Try Newsday, if yuh decide to write, yuh hear?
However, being wired that way, I went off on a little fishing expedition of my own. I fared no better than the fellas who every Easter ritually complain about the depletion of the fish stock.
Scrolling from A to F through an alphabetical list of NBA surnames, I found the following 12 first names: Al-Farouq, Bonzie, Cheick, Deandre, DeAndré, Deonte, Devontae, Devonté, Deyonta, De’Aaron, Kentavious and Luguentz.
Compare that with this alphabetical list of the first names of all the former players who served as umpires or match referees in the just completed World Cup: Aleem, Bruce, Chris (twice), David, Ian, Jeff, Joel, Kumar, Marais, Michael, Nigel, Richard (twice), Richie, Ranjan, Rod, Ruchira, Paul (three times) and Sundaram. Michael Gough, born 39 years ago in 1980, was the youngest member of that whole group.
Hmmmm, I guess the world has changed a lot in a couple of decades.
And I guess that, much as I sorrow over New Zealand’s defeat yesterday, there’s something to be said for Empire after all.
Kentavious? Luguentz? Please!
I also spent a little time looking at World Cup surnames.
Yesterday’s result made me think that the gods are not in the least concerned about cricket; The Bangladesh list confirmed that for me.
It features one player who, presumably covering all his bases, carries the name Kamrul Islam Rabbi. Also on their list are Taijul Islam, Shadman Islam and Nazmul Islam.
Yet, Mortaza’s side managed only seven points from their nine games to finish eighth on the ten-team table.
Among the Australians, I found a bird (Finch) and an animal (Lyon) along with some pretty ordinary, everyday things like two Marshes, a Head, Hazelwood and Pain(e).
Pretty everyday things, Root, Stone and Wood, were found in England too while India offered a Gill and New Zealand a Bo(u)lt.
England and Australia told us things about themselves (Starc/stark, Broad, Short) and gave hints about what they do. Ben Stokes what fires? The same ones like Australia’s or England’s Joe Burns?
Does the smoke from those fires make England’s Matthew Leach? And India’s Rishabh Pant?
I hope that neither does Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga/malinger nor South Africa’s Vernon Philander. Even when you think you have these things down Pat, they have a way of Cummin(s) back to haunt you!
Ask Bill Cosby or R Kelly.
Finally, although we are dealing with professional cricketers, I found some who clearly work two jobs.
I’m not at all sure what a Hider does for a living but the Bangladesh list features one, first name Abu. Australia have a Turner, first name Ashton, as well as a Warner, whose partner in crime is a Smith. New Zealand boast a (George) Worker and a Taylor/Tailor and South Africa a Miller while England, now without their Cook, can still count on an Archer and a Buttler.
Without trying to scare anybody, I have no choice but to recall that, besides their Nurse, WI have a Holder.
If the captaincy is what he plans to hold on to, I usurp Ian Bishop’s role and call on all West Indian fans and supporters to remember another name.