November 28, 2011

We don't do encores

Players who stole the show on their Test debuts but couldn't live up to the early promise

Bob Massie
It was a mesmerising display: the Western Australia swing bowler Massie took 8 for 84 in the first innings of the 1972 Ashes Test at Lord's, the ball zipping in and out very late, as if radio-controlled. This was even more pronounced in the second innings, when he added 8 for 53: almost all his victims were caught behind or in the slips. A star is born, one thought. But Massie was to play only five more Tests, in which he took 15 wickets - one less than he'd managed first-up at Lord's.

Tip Foster
Reginald "Tip" Foster was one of a famous brotherhood from Worcestershire, and he marked his arrival in Test cricket with an astonishing 287 against Australia in Sydney in 1903-04. He hit 37 fours, and the latter part of the innings came in concert with England's rather handy No. 11, Wilfred Rhodes, with whom Foster shared a last-wicket stand of 138 (by the time England toured down under in 1911-12, Rhodes was opening, and put on 323 with Jack Hobbs). Foster played the rest of that series without repeating his heroics, and in fact won only three more Test caps - as skipper against South Africa in 1907.

Jason Krejza
Almost inevitably nicknamed "Krazy", the Tasmania offspinner Krejza made a Massie-esque entry into Test cricket, finishing with 8 for 215 against India in the heat and dust of Nagpur in November 2008. Set for a long run in the side? Not quite. Krejza wasn't even included in the team for Australia's next Test, and in fact has only played one since, against South Africa in Perth later in 2008. He was a rather surprising replacement for Australia's 2011 World Cup campaign (he'd played only one previous ODI), but failed to shine and hasn't featured since.

Narendra Hirwani
Just when one thought Bob Massie's debut figures would never be approached, along came the diminutive Indian legspinner Hirwani, who went one better - literally - by taking 16 wickets for 136 in his first Test (Massie had 16 for 137). Bespectacled, a bit tubby, and only 19, he hardly looked threatening, but the West Indians found him unplayable on a Madras turner in January 1988. Hirwani grabbed 8 for 61 and 8 for 75, helped by some typical Caribbean flamboyance - five of his victims were stumped by Kiran More, who made a Test-record six in the match. But although Hirwani played 16 more Tests, he was rarely an automatic choice. And he never quite recaptured the form of his debut, although he took 50 more wickets, often at quite a cost. He did, however, claim one more Test record: at The Oval in 1990 he bowled unchanged for 59 overs, the longest-known spell in Test history.

Arthur Milton
Milton had already played football for England when he went in first in the third Test against New Zealand at Headingley in 1958 (his opening partner was another double-international - MJK Smith, who had played rugby for England too). Milton made a century, was undefeated on 104 when Peter May declared, and in fact was on the pitch throughout the match, which England won by an innings. But that was one of the weakest New Zealand teams ever to venture abroad, and Australia the following winter were a different matter altogether. Milton's highest score in five more Tests was 36, and he returned to a long and productive county career, playing on for Gloucestershire until 1974.

Frank Hayes
Floppy-haired Hayes looked like a star in the making when he hit an undefeated 106 against the resurgent West Indians at The Oval in 1973. Wisden observed that "the young Lancastrian gave a faultless display, notable for his neat footwork when dealing with the spinners and for the power of his strokes, particularly off the back foot". However, it was downhill from then on: in eight further Tests he failed to reach 30, and collected six ducks. Hayes wasn't helped, though, that all nine of his Test caps came against West Indies.

Albert Trott
It's an unmatched Test debut: innings of 38 and 72, both not out, plus bowling figures of 8 for 43. That's what Trott managed against England in Adelaide in January 1895. In the next Test he scored 85 - again not out - and although his bowling was less incisive, he still finished his maiden series with a batting average of 102.50. A shoo-in for the next Ashes tour, you'd have thought - especially as Trott's brother Harry was Australia's captain by then (1896). But Albert wasn't selected: he travelled to England under his own steam instead, and by 1898 was playing for Middlesex. He even won a couple of England caps but never played for Australia again after those three matches in his debut series.

Mathew Sinclair
New Zealand seemed to have unearthed a new batting star when Australian-born Sinclair collected 214 in his first Test, against West Indies in Wellington in December 1999, only the fourth instance of a double-century on debut (Jacques Rudolph has since joined the list). Unlike some of the players featured here, Sinclair did have some more success: 150 against South Africa in November 2000, and 204 not out v Pakistan in Christchurch in March 2001. But since then it's been a sad story for the Kiwi equivalent of Mark Ramprakash - mountains of runs at domestic level, several Test recalls... but only three fifties in 21 Test matches, with a highest of 76 against Bangladesh.

Peter Petherick
You can't do much more as a bowler than take a hat-trick in your debut Test - and the New Zealand offspinner Petherick did just that against Pakistan in Lahore in October 1976. His victims were a distinguished trio too: Javed Miandad (who'd just made 163 on his debut), Wasim Raja and Intikhab Alam. Only England's Maurice Allom had previously taken a hat-trick on Test debut, and only Damien Fleming of Australia has done so since. But after playing five more Tests in that 1976-77 season, only one of them at home, Petherick - who was already 34 - faded out of international contention.

Mohammad Zahid
Fast and straight, Zahid took 4 for 64 and 7 for 66 on his Test debut, for Pakistan against New Zealand in Rawalpindi in 1996-97, bowling with what Wisden called "blistering pace". Just how straight he bowled can be gauged from the fact that no fewer than eight of his 11 victims were out lbw. But Zahid took only four more wickets in four more Tests, even though he played on with some success at domestic level until 2008-09.

Brendon Kuruppu
Kuruppu's debut Test innings (201 not out) was as notable as his array of initials (four). That first innings, for Sri Lanka against New Zealand at the Colombo Cricket Club in April 1987, stretched over 777 minutes and 548 balls, and certainly belied Kuruppu's previous reputation as a one-day dasher. He was still in when Duleep Mendis declared and, since he then kept wicket, Kuruppu uniquely had his pads on throughout a rather soporific Test, which ended with New Zealand only halfway through their first innings (Jeff Crowe rivalled Kuruppu for stickability, surviving more than 10 hours for 120).

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2011.

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