Cricket is a gentlemen’s sport. So it may not come as a surprise to anyone when ladies fall for the gentlemen’s charms. It was Imran Khan’s masculine personality that saw women idolise him wherever he went, making him the most eligible bachelor in the world in his playing days, and beyond till he got hitched to Jemima Goldsmith. Khan sahab wasn’t the first one to fall for the British heiress, nor was he the last celebrity to be smitten by another celebrity from the fairer sex. There have been many who have played this match and while some have managed a long innings, the innings of some was cut short due to different reasons.
Youngest cricket captain of India weds Bollywood beauty If ever an award is given to the most glamorous celebrity cricketer-actress pair, the jury would unanimously decide on Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi (MAK) and Sharmila Tagore as the winners. As Sharmila Tagore writes in Pataudi: The Nawab of Cricket, she loved ‘Tiger’ MAK for 47 years and was married to him for 43 years, and the biggest regret she has was that they were unable to complete their half century, as Tiger passed away in 2012.
The two were the most glamourous and lovable of all sports-film couples anywhere in the world. He was the youngest Test captain of India who everyone respected; she was the most beautiful actress in tinsel town who had proven her mettle as an actress as well. They were declared man and wife on December 27, 1969 (after she converted to Islam and changed her name to Ayesha Sultana) and continued to excel in their fields.
Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi went on to represent India as captain, cricketer, administrator, match referee and publisher while she managed to give countless hits which included Safar, Amar Prem, Daag, Mausam and Chupke Chupke to name a few after getting married. Together, they had three beautiful kids — Saif Ali Khan, Soha Ali Khan and Saba Ali Khan — two of them renowned actors themselves.
Sultan of Swing meets Lollywood ki Rani After scoring 90 runs in his final test innings, Sarfraz Nawaz bid farewell to international cricket, and entered politics where he was elected as a member of the Punjab Assembly in 1985. It was during that time that he also married film star Rani, who was two years his senior. They were the most eligible couple in town because of their stature as an exceptional cricketer and an amazing actress. Although their marriage wasn’t a success, they stayed friends till the end and it was Sarfraz Nawaz who cared for Rani during the final days of her life in 1993.
Double centurion at Lord’s bowls over Bollywood’s Reena Mohsin Khan may have been born in the era of Imran ‘King’ Khan but he was a dashing stroke-maker and one of the few cricketers to have scored a double century at the home of cricket — Lord’s. During the 1980s, he swept successful Bollywood actress Reena Roy off her feet despite her being linked to co-star Shatrughan Sinha on many occasions. The actress not only quit films for her knight in shining armour (or man in white in this case) but also changed her name to Saira Khan and they both moved to Pakistan at first.
Later, the duo shifted to India where the veteran of 48 Tests and 75 One-day Internationals took an acting diploma from the Film and TV Institute in Pune. The education sort of helped Mohsin Khan the actor who made his film debut in J.P. Dutta’s Batwara in 1989 and was even nominated for Best Supporting Actor, only to lose to then-unknown Nana Patekar who played Anna in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Parinda.
Afterwards, Mohsin Khan did try his hand at acting in films on both sides of the border but despite little successes he wasn’t able to match the popularity of the other Khans who rule Bollywood. It was during his struggle as an actor that he divorced his wife Reena, moved back to Pakistan with his daughter Jannat and got married twice, but was unable to have a successful innings. His daughter now goes by the name Sanam and lives with her mother in India who did try to comeback in Bollywood as Abhishek Bachchan’s mother in Refugee, incidentally also made by J.P. Dutta.
Match made in Europe — King Khan and Heiress Goldsmith No one in Pakistan, even in their wildest of imaginations, had thought that Imran Khan would marry Jemima Goldsmith, a 21-year-old British heiress that, too, at the age of 43. Her father Anglo-French financier, Sir James Goldsmith, was a tycoon and her daughter was well known in British circles, but very much unknown in Pakistan. In fact, people linked Imran Khan more to Bollywood actress Zeenat Aman and Rekha who seemed more eastern for the country’s most eligible bachelor. After all it was Rekha who had termed Raj Babbar as “side se dekho to bilkul Imran Khan” in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Jhooti, right?
Nonetheless, Imran Khan and Jemima Khan tied the knot in 1995 and they stayed together for nine years, during which he fathered two sons with her. The fairytale marriage may have ended but Imran Khan is still on friendly terms with the mother of his children, who constantly supports his views on social media.
Another Indian skipper, another Bollywood beauty She wasn’t the most famous of Indian actresses but he was the captain of the Indian side. He was a devout Muslim whereas she was a former Miss India turned actress. Therefore when Mohammad Azharuddin divorced his first wife for actress Sangeeta Bijlani, it was seen as a scandalous affair rather than a lawful marriage in 1996. The actress married India’s most successful captain at that time in an Islamic ceremony, changed her name to Ayesha Azhar and even quit working in films for her husband who was still winning matches for his country.
They continued to stay away from the glamour world for sometime but in 2010, it was reported that the couple separated due to unknown reasons. Azharuddin went on to become a member of the Indian Parliament and also got his name cleared from the match-fixing saga that saw his career halt in 1999.
Game, set and match When Shoaib Malik made his debut for Pakistan, he was destined to do well as an off-break bowler. In the coming seasons, he managed to become a batsman who could bowl and when Australian bowler Geoff Lawson took over as coach of Pakistan’s cricket team in 2007, he had Shoaib Malik made captain since he saw the lad was destined for a bright future. But not even Shoaib’s biggest fans would have seen the Sania Mirza shocker coming.
She came, she saw and she conquered and by the time it was leaked to the media, the news was as good as official — the Indian tennis queen was to marry Shoaib Malik. The marriage ceremony was held in Sania’s hometown of Hyderabad Deccan, India whereas the Valima took place in Lahore (both in 2010) and till last reports came in, the duo was happily married. They spend most of their time in Dubai where one is neither an Indian nor a Pakistani, but a citizen of the world, and when you are as famous as Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza, you need to be away from the people who recognise you.
So you win some, you lose some. It is not a hit formula that when a cricketer marries a star, the result is box office success. There are some cases where the movie has been declared super successful and cases where the flick has bombed at the box office. One hopes that whenever such a thing happens in the future, it should turn box office into gold more often than busting the charts.