W hen your parents give you a middle name borrowed from one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, there must be a lot to live up to. (Thankfully, ours weren’t so optimistic.)
Okay, so your classmate Francis Daley Thompson didn’t exactly hit the heights of his namesake’s record-breaking decathlon displays. But forget “Feckless Frank” and meet a Dubai schoolboy on the verge of becoming the youngest international cricketer of all time.
Joe Puskas McCaffrey, named after footballer Ferenc Puskás, one of the greatest of all time, is hoping to baffle batsmen across Europe with his brand of wrist spin, playing for the country of his mother’s birth, and that of his namesake’s, Hungary.
So how did this Jumeirah College pupil come to be lined up for an international debut at such a tender age? Well, we’ll let him take up the story.
“My mum was a javelin champion for Hungary and her twin sister, my aunty Brigitta, competed in three Olympics in the skiing squad,” he says. “I had some sessions with Duncan Shoebridge, coach of the Hungarian national cricket team, last summer, and although I was nervous, he was absolutely brilliant with me. I think I did okay, but to get a call for the squad is fantastic.”
Athletic ability clearly courses through the youngster’s veins and it’s not just the family’s sporting sorority that he has to thank. His dad, Rob, is a presenter on beIN Sports, while his older brother George is now his coach at the ICC Academy.
“I bowl leg breaks and googlies like George, so he’s been so helpful coaching me. I need to work on my batting, but I just hope I get a chance in Budapest,” says McCaffrey with a grin.
With a three-day tournament in Poland followed by a six-nation tournament in Budapest on the cards this summer, McCaffrey is undaunted by being thrust into the international arena, and already has the lingo down to a tee. “I speak fluent Hungarian, but I’m guessing howzat is howzat in any language. I just hope I get the chance to shout it – if I get to bowl.”