Cricketers have been given nicknames since the early days. While some were given based on their performance in the field, some were given for other reasons.
Rahul Dravid was often referred to as 'The Wall' due to his ability to stay at the crease for a long time. Meanwhile, Sachin Tendulkar was affectionately known as the 'Master Blaster' by his fans worldwide. Sourav Ganguly was touted as the 'Prince of Kolkata'.
On the other hand, there are many bowlers who were given nicknames based on certain events, mannerisms or other factors off the field.
Let us have a look at 5 legendary fast bowlers who earned attractive nicknames.
#5 Sir Richard Hadlee (Paddles)
Sir Richard Hadlee is by far the greatest cricketer New Zealand have produced. He was the first bowler to take 400 wickets in Test cricket and was knighted in 1990 for his services to the game.
Hadlee was born in Christchurch and attended Heaton Street Intermediate School and later went to Christchurch Boy’s School.
It was during his school days that Hadlee got his nickname “Paddles” due to his large feet. The Kiwi legend's 15-wicket haul against arch-rivals Australia in 1985-86 at the Gabba is still one of the most memorable bowling displays in the history of Test cricket.
Hadlee was also a very talented all-rounder who scored two Test centuries and was recognised as one of the four accomplished all-rounders of his era along with Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Imran Khan.
His most lethal weapon with the ball was the outswinger which was as good as unplayable. Post-retirement, Hadlee became chairman of New Zealand’s selectors and continued to appear in various cricket shows.
#4 Michael Holding (Whispering Death)
One of the fastest bowlers to ever play the game, Michael Holding haunted batsmen around the globe with his fierce pace and unpredictable range of deliveries. He had a long run-up but charged in with a very quiet approach to the crease. Yet, his deliveries reached speeds in excess of 150 kph and hence umpires gave him the nickname 'Whispering Death'.
Holding, along with Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall, formed probably the best fast bowling attack in the history of the game. During England’s tour of the West Indies in 1981, he bowled what is regarded as the 'Greatest over in Test history' to legendary batsman Geoffrey Boycott.
Having played 60 Tests, Holding picked 249 wickets at an average of 23.68 with a best haul of 8/92. Post-retirement, the iconic pacer has been busy with commentary duties.
#3 Jeff Thomson (Two-up)
Many consider Jeff Thomson as the fastest bowler to ever play the game. He has even clocked 160.58 kph in 1976 using high-speed cameras. He formed a lethal bowling pair with Denis Lillee which was a nightmarish combination for any batsman to face. The fearsome bowler got his nickname 'Two Up' due to a very interesting reason.
As a matter of fact, Two-Up is a traditional Australian gambling game and a den known as Thommo’s Two-Up school was very popular in Sydney at that time. Thommo was already an affectionate name given to the cricketer. But due to his name’s association with the gambling place, he was also very popularly known as 'Two Up'.
The Sydney-born pacer played 51 Tests for the Aussies and took 200 wickets at an average of 28. About 7 years after his retirement from international cricket in 1992, he was on the course of a possible comeback to first-class cricket at the age of 42. However, the state selectors of Queensland turned down the prospect due to the team’s youth only policy.
#2 Allan Donald (White Lightning)
Allan Donald was the most prominent South African bowler in the period following their return to international cricket in 1991. The right-arm pacer bowled at a brisk pace, and was also known for applying zinc cream on his cheeks and nose. Due to those reasons, he was affectionately known as the 'White Lightning'.
The Bloemfontein-born pacer played his first ODI match against India at the Eden Gardens and marked his entry into the international scene with a stunning spell. Donald played a total of 72 Test matches and took 330 wickets at an average of 22.25. He was also instrumental in taking the Proteas to the semifinals of the 1992 and 1999 World Cups.
Due to recurring injuries in the latter stages of his career, the speedster had to quit Test cricket after a forgettable series against Australia in 2001/02. Donald played his last ODI during South Africa's campaign in the 2003 World Cup.
#1 Dennis Lillee (FOT)
Crowned as the 'outstanding fast bowler of his generation', Dennis Lillee was a complete package who was a mainstay in the Australian attack for more than a decade and contributed immensely to their immense success.
The nickname 'FOT' was coined early in his career when he had just started playing for Western Australia. During a match, his captain Tony Lock called him and said,” Dennis, you are bowling like a flippin’ old tart.” His teammate John Inverarity immediately gave Lillee the nickname 'FOT' (flippin’ old tart), which became popular in the latter days.
The right arm pacer featured in 70 Tests for the team from Down Under and took 355 wickets. He was even the highest wicket-taker in Tests when he retired in 1984.
Lillee was named in Australia’s Test Team of the Century. Post-retirement, he has been busy as a fast bowling coach. The Australian made major contributions to the MRF pace academy in Chennai and groomed many successful International fast bowlers.