Harold Larwood behind the counter of his sweet shop

Larwood behind the counter of his shop in Caunce Street, Blackpool, in 1949

© PA Photos/Getty Images

High Fives

Let these men fill your stockings

Former cricketers who could sell you something nice for Christmas this year

Crispin Andrews  |  

Harold Larwood: sweets
Back in the 1940s, you could have bought some Christmas sweets from one of the fastest bowlers ever. Larwood, famous for being the executor of Douglas Jardine's Bodyline plan, bought the Victory Sweet Shop in Blackpool, a ten-minute walk from the seafront, for £5000 in 1946. For the best part of four years, the former fast-bowling terror sold boiled sweets, toffee, and chews out of glass jars; also, cigarettes, tobacco, soft drinks and greetings cards. Sometimes Larwood served behind the counter, but mostly he was in the back, arranging the stock and staying away from the limelight.

In 1950, Larwood sold up and he and his family emigrated to Australia, where he lived until he died, aged 90, in 1995. Nine years later, the park on the street in Blackpool where the shop once stood was named in his honour.

Ian Healy: car wash
If you know someone who has a dark-coloured car, on which the dirt doesn't show up, and who then goes missing whenever the sun is out, maybe you could get them a nice carwash courtesy former Australia wicketkeeper Healy.

If they're in south-east Queensland, that is. There you'll find one of Healy's Hoppy's Handwash cafés - easily spotted thanks to the big green frog on their buildings.

Healy says he has a number of carwashes in the region, with his two business partners, one of them former Brisbane Broncos rugby league player Chris Johns, who, Healy says, first ran the idea for the business by him when the two met in the toilet during the 2003 World Cup, in Bulawayo, where Australia were playing Zimbabwe.

Flaunt it if you've got it: Nash in a promo photo for his brand of men's skin and haircare products

Flaunt it if you've got it: Nash in a promo photo for his brand of men's skin and haircare products © Triumph and Disaster

Dion Nash: Men's grooming products
At Christmas, every man gets the obligatory set of smellies. And those who don't, probably buy some for their mates, their brothers or their dad. If you want a bit of splash with a hint of cricket thrown in, look no further than Nash's company, Triumph and Disaster - named after the phrase from the Rudyard Kipling poem "If" - which is "a modern day Apothecary & Skincare foundry that engineers moisturisers, shave creams, face scrubs, soap and advice, not necessarily in that order", according to their website.

Nash was inspired to launch his range of products when he saw someone use his girlfriend's face cream on a flight to New Zealand from New York. Nash said it reminded him of when he used his mum's skin products, after a particularly hot day in the field. Cringe.

He now sells his goods all over the world, in 750 stores. And in the Lord's dressing room, courtesy a sponsorship deal with his old county, Middlesex. Among Triumph and Disaster's employees is another former New Zealand cricketer, wicketkeeper-batsman Reece Young.

Muttiah Muralitharan: biscuits
If you need a few extra biscuits for the Christmas goodies cupboard, Murali is your man - although you might cause a festive family fight at the Muralitharans' over where your lemon puffs, shorties or chocolate creams should come from.

Maybe Luckyland, run by Murali's father, Sinnasamy Muttiah? It was the success of this business that meant Murali's family could afford to send him to St Anthony's College, where he learned his cricket. Murali himself has said that without cricket, he would have probably gone into manufacturing, most probably at the factory.

Mike Whitney, third from left, rocks out

Mike Whitney, third from left, rocks out © Mike Whitney

However, these days, Murali himself is a brand ambassador for Sunrich biscuits, a rival to Luckyland. "Very tasty biscuits," according to the world-record-holding Test wicket-taker.

Whichever biscuits you choose, they'd likely have to come in an aluminium can, possibly made by Murali's own company, Ceylon Beverage Can, which commenced manufacturing in 2016.

Mike Whitney: tunes
If you need a band for your Christmas party, have a word with Whitney. The former Australian left-arm seamer turned TV presenter fronts his own rock band these days and blasts out covers of the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty and the Foo Fighters - usually at pubs, clubs, weddings and functions.

Whitney started the band with a few mates in his teens but then his cricket career got in the way. After he retired, he dusted down the microphone and got together with his old friends again. Now, coming up to their 14th year, the band are not far short of their 200th gig.