Cricinfo XI

Eleven quirky debuts

Alastair Cook flew halfway around the world from the West Indies to Nagpur, and responded to England's injury crisis with 60 and 104 not out on debut. Here, are 11 other memorable debuts

Andrew Miller and Martin Williamson

December 11, 2007

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Luke Pomersbach was called up to Australia's Twenty20 side against New Zealand at Perth from the car park after Brad Hodge hurt his back before the match. He was rushed into the final XI and hit 15 in Australia's victory. Here Cricinfo looks back on eleven other eventful debuts. Can you think of any others? Send them to feedback.



Please, just pitch it on a length: Kim Hughes discusses tactics with Mike Whitney
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Mike Whitney England v Australia 1981
Mike Whitney was just 22 years old and the veteran of a solitary season with New South Wales, when he signed, for £65 per week, to play club cricket for the fishing village of Fleetwood in the Northern Lancashire League. After two months of struggling with the cold of an English early season, he was called down for a trial with Gloucestershire, who were looking for a replacement for their legendary allrounder, Mike Procter. He impressed immediately, with five wickets against the touring Sri Lankans, and he had played just one championship match against Worcestershire, when the phone rang again. This time it was the Australian tour manager, Fred Bennett. Australia had injury problems, he had form, and within 24 hours, Whitney was playing in the fifth Test at Old Trafford, where he capped a whirlwind summer with the maiden wicket of David Gower. His first spell in Test cricket lasted one ball - then the rain came.

Justin Ontong South Africa v Australia 2001-02
For all the rights and wrongs of South Africa's controversial quota system, there are occasions when politicians should resist the temptation to meddle in team selection, and the middle of a tough overseas series against one of the best Australian sides of all time would probably be one of those. South Africa were already 2-0 down and seeking a face-saving win, when it was announced that Jacques Rudolph would be making his Test debut in the third Test at Sydney. Percy Sonn, South Africa's board president, however, had other ideas, and at the 11th hour, Rudolph's selection was over-ruled in favour of the Cape Coloured batsman - and Rudolph's room-mate - Justin Ontong. It was a thankless task, to face a formidable opposition under such unsettling circumstances, but Ontong acquitted himself well enough, scoring 9 and 32 in a ten-wicket defeat.



Over and out: Andy Lloyd's Test career ends before it ever really began
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Andy Lloyd England v West Indies 1984
Lloyd made his debut after doing well in the ODI series that preceded the Tests. Half-an-hour into his first innings, he ducked into a bouncer from Malcolm Marshall and was led off and taken to hospital, suffering from double vision. He remained there for the rest of the match, and did not play again that season. He was never quite the same again, although he carried on until 1992. He has the distinction of being the only player to open in a Test and never be out.

Jacques Rudolph South Africa v India 2001-02
For Rudolph, the Ontong affair was just another hiccup in his long-drawn-out initiation to international cricket, because his debut should, in fact, have come four Tests earlier, against India at Centurion. That match, however, was stripped of its ICC status when the Indians refused to recognise the authority of the match referee, Mike Denness, who had sanctioned six of their players, including Sachin Tendulkar for ball-tampering and Virender Sehwag for excessive appealing, during the previous match at Port Elizabeth. For the record, Rudolph made 21 and South Africa won a lacklustre affair by an innings and 73 runs. It's little wonder that, when he did finally get his chance, against Bangladesh at Chittagong in April 2003, Rudolph was determined to make the most of the moment, and cracked the hapless Banglas for 222 from 383 balls.

South African team v West Indies 1991-92
An historic moment, as South Africa ended 21 years of banishment from Test cricket with a team comprising 10 full debutants plus Kepler Wessels, who had never played for the country of his birth, but had represented Australia in 24 Tests in the mid-1980s. But for the provincially-minded Bajans who stayed away from the match in droves, the most important debutant was the one who did not play. It had been widely hoped that the young allrounder, Anderson Cummins, would be given a first cap on his home turf, but the West Indian selectors opted instead for Kenny Benjamin, to provoke uproar on the island. "No Cummins, no goings", was how one banner memorably summed up the situation. The match itself turned out to be a classic, with Ambrose and Walsh ripping victory from South Africa's grasp on the final morning of the match.

Sachin Tendulkar India v Pakistan 1989-90
The Pakistani pace attack at the turn of the 1990s was one of the most formidable of all time. It comprised the established pairing of Imran Khan and Wasim Akram and, when India arrived for their tour of the country in November 1989, Waqar Younis was straining at the leash to get stuck in as well. India's response was unconventional, to say the least. Into the fray they threw a baby-faced 16-year-old with one season of first-class cricket to his name, and hoped for the best. Sachin Tendulkar's debut produced just 15 runs but bucketfuls of bravery as he stayed in line and copped his blows, as mothers the length and breadth of the subcontinent winced at each delivery and prayed for an end to this cruelty.



Douglas Carr: club cricket in May, Test cricket in August
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Douglas Carr England v Australia 1909
One of cricket's most remarkable stories. Carr made no impression on the game, meandering through club cricket for years until in 1908 when, at the age of 37, he unleashed his googly which he had been honing for four years. He enjoyed such success that in May he was offered a trial with Kent, and by August he was in the England side playing Australia at The Oval. He took 7 for 282 and was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1910. He was aware of his limitations. "I am quite certain of one thing, and that is that in a very short time everybody will be quite able to distinguish between the two breaks." Although he never played for England again, he enjoyed success with Kent until the Great War.

Jack MacBryan England v South Africa 1924
MacBryan holds a unique place in Test cricket in that he did nothing on his debut, which turned out to be his only appearance for England. Playing in a rain-affected match at Old Trafford, he did not bowl or take a catch in South Africa's damp first innings and England never had a chance to bat as the Manchester weather took hold. He was dropped for the next Test when the injured JW Hearne returned and never got another chance, slowly drifting out of the game from 1926. That he played at all was surprising as he had suffered a serious wound to his right arm in the Great War which meant he was unable to throw any distance.

Charles Marriott England v West Indies 1933
"Father" Marriott was a renowned googly bowler who, because of teaching duties at Dulwich College, only played for Kent in the summer holidays. He was almost 38 when picked to make his only Test appearance at the end of the 1933 season, and showed his class by taking 11 for 96 to bowl West Indies to an innings defeat. He was a poor fielder, and a genuine rabbit - his career-best score was 21 and he averaged 4.40, taking more first-class wickets (711) than he scored runs (574). He took time off to tour India with Douglas Jardine's side that winter, but did not play in any of the Tests, and carried on his duel duties for several more years.

Tony Pigott England v New Zealand 1983-84
A classic case of being in the right place at the right time. A right-arm fast-medium bowler from Sussex, Pigott, who was never close to national honours, was in New Zealand playing club cricket when England were struck down by an injury crisis, and he responded to an SOS. The situation was further complicated as Pigott was due to be married on the Monday of the Test, and he had to postpone the ceremony to play. He need not have bothered. The match was a disaster for England who were bowled out for 82 and 93, losing in under 12 hours - Pigott took 2 for 75.

Roy Park Australia v England 1920-21
Dr Roy Park's place in cricket history was secured by the legend of how his wife bent down to pick up her knitting and missed her husband's entire Test career - he was bowled first ball in his only innings. Only years later did he admit he hadn't been to bed the night before as he had had to supervise a difficult birth. He would have played more were it not for alienating the authorities with his staunch support of Warwick Armstrong and the demands of his medical career.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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