Tim Ellis carefully selects the 11 men who would form the beautiful game's all-time strongest cricket team...
1. Christian Vieri
“The Bison” could so easily have been swinging a bat rather than a boot. He was born in Italy but moved to Sydney at the age of three and when asked who his sporting hero was, the former Inter striker once replied: “Allan Border” to a rather bemused, football-dominated press gathering. “To be honest, I wasn’t very good at football. I loved cricket.”
Legendary Aussie cricket captain Border swapped shirts with the Italian at the 1998 World Cup in France, where Vieri bagged five goals. We doubt that a tight-fitting football shirt would fit the beer-swilling Aussies of the 90s: on one flight from Sydney to London, Border’s team-mate David Boon drank 52 cans of lager.
2. Gary Lineker
Striding out to the wicket in his whites (and a protective box under his pants) is Gary Lineker, who fancies himself with the bat in his hand. He often turns out for celebrity matches for Bunbury Cricket Club, where he has teamed up with none other than the shy and retiring Ian Wright.
In 1992, Lineker had his big chance for revenge after Italia 90, playing at the home of cricket, Lord’s, in the European Cricketer Cup Final against none other than Germany. Unfortunately, he only scored one run before being caught. He joked: "I always score one against Germany."
3. Dietmar Hamann
A cricket fanatic, Hamann insists he was born English, which must explain why he became hooked on the game after the classic Freddie Flintoff-inspired Ashes series of 2005.
Didi once turned out for Alderley Edge CC 2nd XI in the Cheshire County Cricket League. In his 2012 autobiography, the former Liverpool midfielder recalled an evening spent spread betting during an Australia vs South Africa Test match.
“That night, I bought Australia for £2,800 at 340 runs. That meant for every run [they score] over 340, you win £2,800, but for every run under, you lose the same amount. Australia collapsed for 237."
It cost him £288,400.
4. Denis Compton
The original Brylcreem boy and the David Beckham of his generation, Compton won League and FA Cup winners medals with Arsenal, playing on the left wing.
He was even better on a cricket pitch. He played over 70 times for England, averaging over 50 with the bat. In his debut for Middlesex, Compton was given out leg before wicket incorrectly because the umpire was desperate to get off the pitch and relieve himself. It’s a long game, this cricket...
5. Willie "Fatty" Foulke
“Fatty” Foulke played for Derbyshire County Cricket Club four times in 1900 when he was 24 stone
The heaviest man ever to represent England on the football pitch, “Fatty” played for Derbyshire County Cricket Club four times in 1900 when he was 24 stone.
He was more famous for winning the FA Cup twice with Sheffield United, where his own supporters playfully rounded on him with the original version of “You fat b*****d, you fat b*****d, you ate all the pies.”
It isn’t known what Foulke had for lunch and tea in the cricket pavilion, but the Blades staff were always warned not to arrive late at the dinner table...