Cricket is a diverse game becoming more diverse by the day. Primarily belonging to areas that were previously under British rule, the game is starting to spread its tentacles to places like the Netherlands and Papua New Guinea. As a result, the game has a great variety of names amongst its players.
While the names of most players are well known, there are some who drop parts of it or reduce its length by using their initials. These players go through their entire careers without most people knowing what their full names are. Let's look at some prime examples of these.
Among the greatest batsmen that the country has produced, Laxman has always been known by the initials VVS. Few know what they stand for. Out of admiration, these have been given another expansion – Very Very Special. But in reality, the full name of the batting legend from Hyderabad is Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman. However, being called very, very special won't go down badly either.
Among the stars of the earliest phase of Indian cricket, Lala Amarnath's reputation was enhanced even more by the exploits of his sons and a career as an analyst on radio commentary. But it would surprise a lot of people to know that Amarnath is actually not the surname of the famous all-rounder but actually, his middle name. The full name reads Nanik Amarnath Bharadwaj.
A lot of people are under the mistaken impression that Ross Taylor belongs to the indigenous Maori community of New Zealand. But actually, he is half-Samoan. Ross is the only English-sounding among his four names apart from the family name Taylor. His initials, one might have noticed, is LRPL, which stand for Luteru Ross Poutoa Lote. It is understandable why he chose Ross instead of the other three options for his first name in cricket.
Born in South Africa, captained England and lived in Australia, Tony Greig was one of the most loved figures in the cricket world. His booming voice and rousing commentary made him the default voice of cricket. His full name though, was hardly ever heard. Anthony William Greig may have been a feisty, rebellious cricketer for those who saw cricket in 1970s but for 90s kids and millennials, he would be best remembered as the excited broadcaster who brought the game alive.
Former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje would have been remembered as a wonderful leader had he not disgraced himself by shady dealings with bookmakers. However, even today, only a few are aware that Hansie was just a pet name of the former Proteas skipper. South Africa has a large non-English speaking Afrikaner population with very unique names. Cronje was one of them and his full name was Wessel Johannes Hansie Cronje.
AB de Villiers
One of the most exciting batsmen in the world, few know what AB stands for in the name of the player. It is simply Abraham Benjamin. Yes, Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is the full name of the South African batsmen who now lights up T20 leagues around the world.
Sri Lanka has probably the longest names on average among all Test-playing nations. Not surprisingly, one of their players also features in the list. Chaminda Vaas was certainly their greatest seamer. But his full name is not just hardly known but hard to remember. Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas is hard to repeat even for people from Sri Lanka's neighbour India, but somehow, David Lloyd can not only remember it but repeat it at will. Listening to his north English rendition of WPUJC Vaas' full name is a delight.