It's hard to get through a day in the present era without hearing someone mention Game of Thrones. And one character from the hit American television series whose name has become more common than most others is Jon Snow. But for die-hard cricket fans living in blissful ignorance of this HBO drama and those Indians and Britishers who belong to a previous generation, this name conjures up the image of a completely different character.
While Jon Snow, played by actor Kit Harrington, is a fictional character, there was a real person called John Snow who was one of the best fast bowlers of his generation. Playing international cricket in the period of 1965-1976, he was known for his aggressive brand of pace bowling – a precursor of sorts to the arrival of bowlers such as Denniss Lillee, Jeff Thompson and the West Indian pacemen.
Other John Snow
But if you are an Indian cricket fan who is aware of history or someone who remembers that period, what you probably recollect about this bowler is an unfortunate incident that occurred during India's memorable series win in 1971 in England.
In the very first Test at Lord's, India were looking to chase down a low target to take a 1-0 lead and Gavaskar was at the crease. Then occurred a sour incident. As the legendary Indian batsman was going for a quick single, Snow went to grab the ball and the two men collided.
Now the Indian opener was a diminutive batsman while the English pacer was a tall, strong cricketer. Obviously, Gavaskar seemed more affected by the crash. Farokh Engineer, who was batting with Gavaskar at the time, revealed during a television show some years ago that he told Snow to 'pick on someone of his own size.' The fast bowler maintained that he was simply heading for the ball and had no intention of colliding with his rival. But the authorities were not satisfied with it and blamed the fast bowler for the incident. Despite him apologising to Gavaskar later, he received a ban of two Tests from the English authorities.
Snow picked up 202 wickets in 49 Tests and was a key member of England's Ashes winning team in 1970/71 under the captaincy of Ray Illingworth. He was known for his aggression, both on and off-field and had several run-ins with authorities. But Snow was far from being a mindless fast-bowling brute. He was educated at a public school and wrote poetry. For cricket fans at least, John Snow, with an 'H' would always be more interesting than the his fictional namesake without it.