Flying first class
Michael Hussey and Brad Hodge were domestic giants, having played 176 and 167 first-class matches respectively and scored buckets of runs, before making deserved and belated Test debuts. But there have been others who have played more than 400 games and scored in excess of 20,000 runs but never won that coveted Test cap. This week's List is about them.
Had it not been for a backtrack by the authorities, Glamorgan's Alan Jones wouldn't be holding the record for most first-class runs, a whopping 36,049, without playing a Test. For three years he was very much a Test cricketer by virtue of having represented England against the Rest of the World in 1970, a series accorded Tests at the time. He scored 5 and 0 on debut at Lord's, nicking Mike Procter to Farokh Engineer both times, and never played for England again. However, he was stripped of the Test-cricketer tag when the matches versus Rest of the World were later downgraded to just first-class.
Between August 1954 and July 1969, Sussex's Ken Suttle played 423 consecutive County Championship matches - a record that, probably, will never be broken. The closest he came to winning an England cap was when he was picked for the tour of the West Indies in 1953-54 but still couldn't break into the Test side.
South Africa's isolation ruined the Test careers of many cricketers but it ensured that Clive Rice, who made his first-class debut a year before their ban, never had one. When South Africa were readmitted, Rice, 42 at the time, captained South Africa in three ODIs in India. He never got to play a Test and was considered too old for the 1992 World Cup.
The first eleven spots on the list of batsmen with best first-class averages without playing a Test are monopolised by Indians. Victoria's David Hussey, at No. 12, is the first batsman from outside the subcontinent on it. Figures of 4569 runs at 50.76 after 68 games suggests he is an exciting prospect but considering how formidable the Australian middle order is, he might still not get a chance.
|K Bhaskar Pillai||1982/83-1994/95||95||5443||222*||52.84||18|
A first-class record of 15,313 runs at 52.80 ensured that David's brother, Michael, entered Test cricket with some reputation to live up to. Eleven Tests later, he has ticked off 1139 runs at 75.93 giving him the second-highest difference between a Test average and first-class average.
Hussey's success in both Tests and one-dayers is because he adapts superbly to different situations. A point to be noted is that the top four batsmen with the highest difference between first-class and Test average are those who were tagged as one-day specialists.
If there's a particular List that you would like to see, e-mail us with your comments and suggestions. Next week: The same lists for bowlers.
George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo