Australian batsman Chris Lynn poses for a photograph with former Australian cricketer Andrew 'Roy' Symonds.
Australian batsman Chris Lynn poses for a photograph with former Australian cricketer Andrew 'Roy' Symonds.

The origins of cricket’s best-known nicknames

WITH the Test cricket season upon us and two almost completely new commentary teams in the box, you're sure to hear some nicknames thrown around this summer.

But why is Andrew Symonds known as 'Roy'? How did Ricky Ponting get the nickname 'Punter'? 

We've got all your cricket nickname answers here.

 

Andrew 'Roy' Symonds

A legend of Queensland sport in his own right, the Fox Sports commentator earned the nickname 'Roy' because he vaguely looked like Brisbane Bullets basketball champion Leroy Loggins.

Bestowed the royal nickname by one of his junior cricket coaches, sports fans with only a passing interest in cricket could be forgiven for thinking 'Roy' is the all-rounder's birth name, given how well it has stuck over the years.

And let's be honest, 'Roy' just seems to fit the character of the bloke better than 'Andrew'.

Ricky Ponting, sporting a rubbish goatee, and Shane Warne celebrate after winning the World Series Cup in 1996.
Ricky Ponting, sporting a rubbish goatee, and Shane Warne celebrate after winning the World Series Cup in 1996.

Ricky 'Punter' Ponting

Young bucks without a nickname tend to be quickly administered one by their older, more experienced teammates in all walks of team sports.

It happened with Michael 'Pup' Clarke (because he was a baby when he made his Test debut) and it happened with Ricky Ponting when he joined the Aussie squad in 1995.

Without a name that you could just throw a 'y' on the end of like Smithy, Ponting became 'Punter' when spin king Shane Warne acknowledged the Tasmanian's love of a punt on the greyhounds and harness racing.

Whether that was a happy accident from originally calling him 'Ponter' we don't know, but there's every chance that's how the name evolved.

Glenn McGrath shows off his pigeon pins during a nets session in 2004.
Glenn McGrath shows off his pigeon pins during a nets session in 2004.

Glenn 'Pigeon' McGrath

Joining Ponting on Channel 7's coverage of the cricket, fast bowling legend McGrath has had plenty of nicknames thrown his way, but only one has really stuck - Pigeon.

And it's for the exact reason you think.

Upon laying eyes on the skinny kid at NSW training, veteran all-rounder Brad McNamara looked McGrath up and down and said "you've stolen a pigeon's legs, McGrath", creating one of Australian cricket's most famous nicknames.

A baby-faced Jason Gillespie (right) joins fast bowling teammates Michael Kasperwicz, Glenn McGrath and Damien Fleming at the Gabba in 1998.
A baby-faced Jason Gillespie (right) joins fast bowling teammates Michael Kasperwicz, Glenn McGrath and Damien Fleming at the Gabba in 1998.

Jason 'Dizzy' Gillespie

Much like Clarke and Ponting, fast bowler Gillespie's nickname became synonymous with the man because of his older teammates.

Coming into training without a nickname, the veterans called the young South Australian 'Dizzy' after American jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, who in turn had earned his nickname from friends who found his behaviour unpredictably head-spinning.

"I remember at training being a bit surprised at Steve Waugh only being referred to as 'Tugga' and Mark Waugh being called 'Junior'," Gillespie said in 2015.

"It wasn't that I thought no one had nicknames, but I suppose because I was now in the 'inner sanctum' and was privy to this interaction. I was very quickly only referred to as 'Dizzy', and that was that."

That is one pretty boofy head.
That is one pretty boofy head.

Darren 'Boof' Lehmann

A standard Aussie nickname for someone with a large bonce, the former Australian coach has been called 'Boof' since he was in Year 8 at school.

Classmate Johnny Giannitto bestowed the name on the footy field one day when Lehmann called his friend 'The Golden Greek' after marathon runner Yiannis Kouros - despite Giannitto being Italian.

"It was a bit of tit for tat, we were both calling each other names, as you do, and you've only got to look at him to see he's got a boofhead," Giannitto said.

"Mind you, if I knew he was going to be the Australian cricket coach I would have liked to have thought of something a bit sharper."

Brett Lee and Adam Gilchrist are both working for Fox Cricket this summer.
Brett Lee and Adam Gilchrist are both working for Fox Cricket this summer.

Brett 'Binga' Lee

This one's pretty obvious for anyone from NSW, but less so for the rest of us.

The fast bowler earned his nickname from the electronic stores Bing Lee, which were named after their Chinese founder, who took over an electrical repair store in Fairfield in 1957.

Apparently teammates were keen to nickname the Bollywood star 'Oswald' because of his position in the batting order behind brother Shane Lee and Ian Harvey (Lee, Harvey, Oswald) but unfortunately it didn't stick.

Shaun Marsh with his father Geoff, after he presented his son with his Baggy Green in 2011.
Shaun Marsh with his father Geoff, after he presented his son with his Baggy Green in 2011.

Shaun 'SOS' Marsh

The AFL fans among us would know 'SOS' as Carlton legend Stephen Silvagni, or 'Son Of Serge'.

In a similar fashion, Marsh earned his nickname from his dad Geoff 'Swampy' Marsh, to become 'Son Of Swampy'.

In turn, Geoff's nickname is the classic play on the surname Marsh being another name for a swamp.

Steve and Mark Waugh holding the Sir Frank Worrell and a stubbie in 1995.
Steve and Mark Waugh holding the Sir Frank Worrell and a stubbie in 1995.

Steve 'Tugga' Waugh

While twin brother Mark arguably has the cleverer nickname with 'Afghanistan' (the forgotten war/Waugh), Steve's is a play on the "tug of war" for the former Aussie captain's ability to get down and dirty and fight for every run.

And given 'Afghanistan' doesn't really roll off the tongue, Mark is also known as 'Junior' for being born a few minutes later than his older sibling.

 

Every Test, ODI & T20I live, ad-break free during play and in 4K. Only on Foxtel.