Ravaged by injury and illness
In Mombasa last week, the injury-stricken Canadians had to cancel their ODI against Kenya because they were unable to raise a full XI. Here, Cricinfo recalls 11 other occasions when teams were pushed to the limits by off-field problems. Rather a lot of England examples, but maybe they just have dodgy constitutions ...
England in India 1992-93
Prawns, smog and facial hair. England had an excuse for everything on their doomed tour to India, but none of it washed as they were thumped 3-0 in the Tests by Vinod Kambli and his pals. For the long-suffering captain, Graham Gooch, whose rampant stubble - like Andrew Flintoff's - betrayed his world-weariness, it was an especially glum trip. In the early 1990s, Gooch was England, but his 100th Test at Calcutta was ruined when, reputedly suffering from a team-wide virus, he left his back foot on the popping crease and was absent-mindedly stumped. At Madras a week later, things got worse. A dodgy plate of prawns in a Chinese restaurant, and Gooch was invalided out of the match. Gatting and Smith were both forced from the field at different stages of the game as well, as England's decision to tour without a team doctor came under the spotlight.
New Zealand in India, 1988-89
For Richard Hadlee, the Bangalore Test should have been memorable for entirely different reasons. His first-innings haul of 5 for 65 carried him clear of Ian Botham at the top of the world Test wickets table, but he did not feature in the second innings, after he and a number of his team-mates were hacked down by a violent stomach bug on the rest day of the Test. As India batted themselves into a match-winning position, an SOS was sent up to the TV commentary box where the former New Zealand captain, Jeremy Coney, was called out of his 18-month retirement along with his fellow journalist, Ken Nicholson, to act as substitute fielders.
England in Australia 1994-95
A catastrophe of a trip from start to limping finish. Only four players out of 16 made it through the entire tour with their bodies intact. Ironically, two of these were the oldest men in the squad - Gooch, 41, and Gatting, 37 - while one of the others, Phil Tufnell, spent a night in an asylum after trashing his hotel-room. Alec Stewart broke his finger, Darren Gough broke his foot, Graham Hick slipped a disc, Joey Benjamin got chicken-pox ... and passed it to Devon Malcolm. Martin McCague suffered a stress fracture of the shin, Craig White and Shaun Udal tore side muscles. Even Dave Roberts, the physio, broke a finger in fielding practice. And England were thumped by everyone, including Zimbabwe and the Australian Academy side.
New Zealand in England 2004
On reflection, it possibly wasn't the best decision the New Zealand selectors ever made. Returning to the scene of one of their finest wins, the 1999 series that had condemned England to the bottom of the world pile, the Kiwis decided to bring a squad of just 14 - including that walking back strain, Shane Bond. Bond duly missed the entire series with a stress fracture of the back, and his example was followed by a host of colleagues including Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori and Craig McMillan. During the Headingley Test they called upon five substitute fielders, while at Trent Bridge, Kyle Mills (on debut) and Daryl Tuffey managed less than eight overs between them. "Everyone's a bit pissed off, really," summed up their opening batsman, Mark Richardson.
England's prospects in India last year hinged on three key facets, it was thought. The determined captaincy of Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick's penchant for slog-sweeping the spinners, and Simon Jones's unrivalled ability to swing the old ball. Think again. With five days to go until the first Test at Nagpur, Trescothick flew home in tears for undisclosed "personal reasons", and soon afterwards, Vaughan's dodgy knee sent him winging in the same direction - with Jones following hot on his heels after pulling up in a heap in England's penultimate nets session. Into the breach flew the 21-year-old Essex left-hander, Alastair Cook, whose journey from the England A tour in the Caribbean took him 48 hours and innumerable delays. "The jet lag probably helped a bit," he joked, after becoming the youngest England Test cricket to score a century on debut.
Middlesex v Nottinghamshire 1992
Short of players, and in particular a left-arm spinner in the absence of the hospitalised Phil Tufnell, Middlesex turned to 41-year-old Phil Edmonds, a committee member who had been retired for five years. He arrived at Trent Bridge in his Rolls Royce and rolled back the years, landing the ball on the spot from the off in taking 4 for 48. "He still broke bounds by fielding aggravatingly close, he still ostentatiously wore a watch, probably still pretended he was paid a fortune to do so, still disdained calisthenics, still clapped his hands, still rubbed them in the dust as he prepared to bowl," wrote Peter Roebuck. He also took too many painkillers, spent the latter part of the second day in a haze, and stiffened up so badly that it was a blessing when the last day's play was washed out.
India in West Indies 1975-76
By the end of the final Test in Jamaica the Indian dressing-room resembled the set of ER. Three batsmen had been poleaxed by a ferocious barrage of fast bowling, while two others - Chandrasaker and Bishan Bedi, the captain - had hands battered enough for them to struggle to grip their bats. India used all 17 of the tour squad to field during the match, and on the fourth day one of them - Surinder Amarnath - was rushed to hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Bedi declared India's first innings at 306 for 6 "in disgust" at what he claimed was dangerous bowling; second-time around he again stopped proceedings early with India 97 for 5. That time the reason was more straightforward. "It was self preservation," he admitted.
England in Australia 1974-75
England's oldish squad seemed to suffer from brittle bones, and the tour was hardly underway before the walking wounded outnumbered the fit. Mike Denness, the captain, was laid low by a viral infection while batsmen seemed to be under constant attack from Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. In the end, with John Edrich, Dennis Amiss, Brian Luckhurst and David Lloyd all sidelined, the selectors summoned 42-year-old Colin Cowdrey from his Kent fireside - the thinking was he had the experience, but they also were worried about sending a youngster into the lion's den.
Pakistan in England 1982
By the end of the tour, Pakistan were ravaged by injuries, and at Leeds they were barely able to raise a fit XI. In desperation, they summoned Ehteshamuddin, a seamer who had played a handful of Tests, from the Birmingham Leagues. Unfortunately, none of them had seen Ehteshamuddin and a surprised media politely described him as being slightly overweight and a little unfit. Both were understatements, and it was to nobody's surprise when he tore a hamstring early in England's second innings and hobbled out of the match.
England in India 1963-64
So decimated by illness and injury were the England tourists by the time they reached Bombay for the second Test, that Henry Blofeld, covering the tour as a journalist, was put on standby. Blofeld could play - he had been talked up as a big prospect while a member of the Eton side - but his career had been ended some years earlier by a road accident. In the event, an unwell Micky Stewart reported fit on the morning of the match, but he left the field at lunch on the first day and took no further part in the game. England were so short that Kripal Singh, India's 12th man, had to field for them. By the end of the Test, Peter Parfitt and Colin Cowdrey had been flown out to bolster the squad.
Leicestershire v Essex 1992
Jonathan Agnew was arguably very unfortunate to play just three Tests in the course of a career. In 1988 he was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year for his 101-wicket haul for Leicestershire, but within two seasons he had jacked it all in to become a journalist, first for the short-lived Today newspaper, and then as the BBC's cricket correspondent. But that wasn't the end of his on-field dalliances. In August 1992, he answered an SOS from his injury-ravaged Leicestershire team-mates, and turned out for their crucial NatWest Trophy semi-final against Essex. He performed exceptionally in the circumstances, taking 1 for 31 in 12 overs, as Leicestershire wrapped up their victory with two balls to spare. "I don't know how I got away with that," he announced to the cameras as he sloped off the pitch.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo, Martin Williamson is managing editor