We don't do encores

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

Steven Lynch

November 28, 2011

Comments: 60 | Text size: A | A

Narendra Hirwani took 6 for 59, India v New Zealand, 1st Test, Bangalore, 5th day, November 17, 1988
Narendra Hirwani: 16 wickets on debut, and 50 in his 16 other Tests Simon Bruty / © Getty Images

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 drives during his 47, New Zealand v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Wellington, 2nd day, January 13, 2008
Mathew Sinclair: couldn't match the expectations that followed his debut double-century © Getty Images

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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Posted by   on (November 30, 2011, 15:57 GMT)

Well researched list one could also call this "flash in the pan" X1, however, omission incudes; John Hampshire (now an umpire), John Benaud (Richie younger brother) PR Amre 100 on debut for India, Taslim Arif(WK) Asif Masood, Alan Ward and Wayne Larkins, the last two, I have no idea why they were selected other than an embarrassment to their self and England, I mean both got ample chances , right. And one last one, Vinod Kambli enough said.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (November 30, 2011, 4:19 GMT)

@SRT_GENIUS, I understand the purpose of this article is that you need to have an awesome debut. I was digressing in mentioning Basit Ali. But just couldn't help take his name. He looked very much the part at international level. How he fizzled out will be a mystery; PCB and its eternal internal wranglings........

Posted by   on (November 30, 2011, 0:34 GMT)

I remember meeting a man at a cricket game once who introduced himself as Mathew Sinclair's father. He told me that he was encouraging Mathew to only accept a top level bat contract because he was going to be something special and the bat contract should acknowledge that. He then told me that he had taken his daughter out of netball and put her into swimming because she had been injured playing netball and was now less likely to become a champion. If he was telling the truth about he was, no wonder Mathew didn't make it.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2011, 18:09 GMT)

How about Dwayne Smith? His debut ton against South Africa has been followed by no score above 50 since.

Posted by AlanHarrison on (November 29, 2011, 16:40 GMT)

@Frank Davis: thanks for the correction (Marriot). I was too lazy to look it up ...

Posted by a1234s on (November 29, 2011, 15:37 GMT)

how about Praveen Amre?

Can never forget his century against SA on debut against Pringle, Mcmillan, Donald and Schultz? Was scintillating.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2011, 15:06 GMT)

GREAT JOB STEVEN.... tough u missed out many players in that list as i have read in the comments but still a job good done... Many names in that list i didnt knew b4 today.. I would really like to see a list of players who started their game very badly and struggled but were lucky enough to get chances and later went onto become great players and legends.. I remember INZI, Attapattu,younis khan,etc struggled alot in early days, especially younis. I hated this guy coz even after so many flops he was there in the team alwayz and now i cant imagine a pak XI without his name.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2011, 13:36 GMT)

The list surprisingly omitted Gary Gilmour of Australia who created a sensation in the Inaugural world cup 1975 both in final and semi-final by his extraordinary all round performance but was much not heard later.Similarly a New Zealand opening batsman Rodney Redmond who scored a century on debut was also forgotten later on.What happened to these players later?

Posted by pateltheking11 on (November 29, 2011, 7:35 GMT)

you can muhammad sami in this is list. he took eight wicket in his first match.

Posted by jonesy2 on (November 29, 2011, 3:59 GMT)

to be fair to massie and krejza and probably a fair few others, they really were not given any time to build on their debut feats, who knows what they could have been

Posted by jonesy2 on (November 29, 2011, 3:57 GMT)

i hope phil hughes doesnt become a matthew sinclair

Posted by SRT_GENIUS on (November 29, 2011, 2:45 GMT)

@Dravid_Gravitas: What were Basit Ali's debut scores ?

Posted by Baddabing on (November 29, 2011, 1:51 GMT)

Phil Jaques scored 94 in his ODI debut (still an Australian record) then he was dropped after scoring only 31 runs in his next 5 matches. Where are you Phil? We miss you,please come back,all is forgiven.

Posted by Vedahametham on (November 29, 2011, 1:44 GMT)

How about Yejuvendra Singh. Who equaled the catching record. Not seen any more afterwards. Tony Man, another century maker and a bowler for Australia. India has the dubious distinction of allowing non performers from opposition teams excel when playing against them. Sadiq Mohmmed. He may not be a failure but compared with his illustrious brothers he is a non-performer. Can we say Mike Brearly success, just one century and some fluke captaincy accolades for his PHD. Wayne Danial and Patrick Patterson of WI.

Posted by Sulli001 on (November 29, 2011, 1:06 GMT)

Matthew Sinclair was a victim of inconsistant team selection and as a result his confidence within the team suffered. He is a class player who should have been allowed to settle into the team. Scoring 2 double hundreds and a 150 in your first 20 innings is a particularly good effort, given 6 of those where against Australia when they where unbeatable. he still avg 33 which is consistant with all current NZ batsmen. Sinclair should have played many more trst than he did.

Posted by Randy_Wilson on (November 29, 2011, 0:58 GMT)

Dwayne Smith (W.I) Great debut in Test with 105 Runs Not out against South Africa and never reach it again, forget about 100, never even made 50 in his 10 Test Matches.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2011, 0:38 GMT)

Bob Massie was an enigma - there was a small controversy when he failed to be picked for an all-time WA XI a few years back, but the fact is that he never took another five-for apart from during his debut test.Seems his swing just left him - must have been mentored by some of Australia's recent bowling coaches!

As for guys who took a while to get going - Steve Waugh and Bob Simpson are two Australian batsmen who took ages to score their first Test ton, but they ended being reasonably good!

Posted by Danube on (November 28, 2011, 22:38 GMT)

Peter Taylor grabbed a 6 for in his debut against England in Sydney in the 86/87 ashes, but barely averaged 1 a game after that, becoming pidgeonholed as a One Day specialist.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 20:18 GMT)

To the fan who posted earlier with no name... Vaghan and Flintoff as failures... now that's carrying it too far isn't it or is it just pure hatred for them? Can't blame you alone, many comments on these articles are sans any logic and mostly pure jealousy or ignorance. When would cricket fans learn to appreciate players and contributions from greats from teams other than your owns?

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 20:01 GMT)

what about ajantha mendis? :S

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (November 28, 2011, 19:17 GMT)

What about Basit Ali, a rare talent?

Posted by nafzak on (November 28, 2011, 18:19 GMT)

Mohammed Zahid was teh fastest bowler - perhaps ever. Too bad he got injured. Carl Hooper, said that Mohammad Zahid was the fastest bowler that he faced and that he had trouble seeing the ball. Unfortunately, injury took his talent away from us cricket fans.

Mohamed Z. Rahaman Guyana

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 16:25 GMT)

So, being quicker than Akhtar MEANS Zahid was better than Akhtar?? He replaced Akhtar in Capetown test 2003 and failed, though that was his comeback.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 15:51 GMT)

Where is Yasir Hameed? He should have been on the list. Only one of two batsmen to score a century in each innings on test debut. Unfortunately, never scored a hundred again.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 15:38 GMT)

you forgot Mohamed Ashraful..he should be on the top of this list of failures

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 15:38 GMT)

As many mentionned, Zahid shouldnt be mentionned in this

Posted by Stark62 on (November 28, 2011, 14:41 GMT)


Muhammad Zahid injured his back and the stupid pcb didn't pay for his treatment!

He didn't have enough funds the poor guy but he was quicker than Akhtar and Akhtar admitted this in an interview by saying that he was at least a good 4 to 5 yards quicker than him.

If you don't belive me then, there is a video on youtube where Ganguly is facing Zahid and he motions to his partner that he can't see the ball.

Posted by landl47 on (November 28, 2011, 14:31 GMT)

I don't know who the person is who thinks that Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff only had one good performance (the poster didn't leave his name, which was a good idea), but Vaughan's test career, apart from being one of England's most successful captains, included 82 tests, 5719 runs, 18 centuries, average 41.44. Flintoff played 79 rests, had 3845 runs and 226 wickets and would no doubt have even better numbers if injuries hadn't curtailed his career (he's still only 33). I suggest you find something you know about before posting again. Oh, and how strange that every 'example' was an England player.

Posted by Rakim on (November 28, 2011, 14:30 GMT)

Mohammad Zahid was injured. Even the great Shoaib Akhtar said that Zahid, at his peak, bowled faster than him.

Posted by bumsonseats on (November 28, 2011, 13:51 GMT)

mendis cannot be put on this list or guys who although may have done big things then was never seen again. if still playing their time could come again. dpk

Posted by Haleos on (November 28, 2011, 13:50 GMT)

@amclean - in fact he is lucky to have not made this list. lol.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

Alan " that English spinner who took about 11 for 96 in his only test (Parker?))", it was CS Marriot

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 13:06 GMT)

They should a similar list of those players who are remembered only for one performance/series and achieved nothing else. For example, Chris Broad (1986/87 Ashes), Devon Malcolm (Oval, 1994), Mark Butcher 173*, Michael Vaughan (2002 v India, 2002/03 v Australia), Andrew Flintoff (Ashes 2005).

Posted by I_cant_believe_its_not_batter on (November 28, 2011, 12:46 GMT)

R.E.Foster's effort is all the more remarkable because it was also the highest individual score in Test Cricket at the time. Not too shabby on debut...

Posted by indianzen on (November 28, 2011, 12:02 GMT)

you missed the great ajantha mendis... mystery bowler... oh yes, when he will be playing is a mystery...

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 11:23 GMT)

Zahid had plenty of back problems which is why he eventually fell off the radar. Club cricket bully in England these days.

Posted by AlanHarrison on (November 28, 2011, 11:04 GMT)

@ amclean: agree there's a case for mentioning Redmond, but as suggested, they seem to have picked players who had a realy good debut and then flopped a few times, rather than players who had a really good debut and never got another chance (e.g., Stuart Law, Gantaume, and that English spinner who took about 11 for 96 in his only test (Parker?))

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 10:58 GMT)

Add to this Surinder Amarnath who was far more gifted but not as mentally tough as his younger brother Mohinder who is a legend of the game. Also Ambar Roy who impressed all with his robust 48 with 10 boundaries at Nagpur vs New Zealand in 1969-70. Would not call Hirwani or Vinod Kambli failures since they played 17 tests with fine statistics. Nor would I call Sadagopan Ramesh a failure. Was quite like Gautam Gambhir and would have been as successful had he got an extended run. Lost his career to Sehwag.

Posted by AlanHarrison on (November 28, 2011, 10:45 GMT)

Ok, I guess they've selected players here who had a very good debut followed by some mediocre performances, but there's still a case for mentioning West Indies' Andy Ganteaume. It's hard to have a more impressive debut than making a hundred in his only innings, and he "couldn't live up to his early promise" in the sense that they wouldn't pick him again ...

Posted by amclean on (November 28, 2011, 10:36 GMT)

Rodney Redmond was unlucky not to make this list. A century and fifty in his only Test, against Pakistan at Eden Park. Interesting also that in the same match, Brian Hastings and Richard Collinge broke the record for a 10th wicket stand with their 151 partnership - unlikely Wilfred Rhodes mentioned with Tip Foster, Collinge was a genuine no 11!

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 10:14 GMT)

sami,shabir ,muhammed waseem ,ali naqvi and yasir hameed etc

Posted by Grutness on (November 28, 2011, 10:03 GMT)

Petherick's since become distinguished in another form of bowling - he reached the NZ national lawn bowls finals in 2006, and could yet become another double international.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 9:48 GMT)

Fawad Alam should also be on that list, So should Yasir Hameed.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 9:37 GMT)

Vinod Kambli will be the ideal captain of this XI. Given that his name is not found in the XI, he should be the coach of this XI.

Posted by OutCast on (November 28, 2011, 9:13 GMT)

This list is missing some key members: Kambli, Basit Ali, Ajantha Medis (plays once in a blue moon)...

Posted by baskar_n on (November 28, 2011, 9:01 GMT)

Remember Azhar Mahmood and one more chap (Naqvi?) scoring tons on debut in a test match in 1997 - Infact Mahmood had 2 in a row like Sourav

Posted by Baddabing on (November 28, 2011, 8:32 GMT)

I stayed up til the wee small hours of the morning in 1981 to watch Dirk Wellham make a century on debut against England, but alas he never passed 30 again and his career was over a few months later.

Posted by Vijayakumarshankar on (November 28, 2011, 8:25 GMT)

May be on that list Nathan lyon of australia is waiting...

Posted by ROLAYH on (November 28, 2011, 8:00 GMT)

Azhar Mehmood had three four excellent outings against South Africa earning him a couple of man of the match awards and one man of the series award... deserve a mention here I think... faded away later on though...

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 7:39 GMT)

@schumanth007. I don't know if Kallis was lucky to get an extended run but he famously only averaged 22 after 10 Tests. He certainly qualifies as a legend of the game.

Posted by Scorp on (November 28, 2011, 7:28 GMT)

Are we not counting ODIs??? We could add Ricardo Powell (WI), Vijay Bhardwaj (Ind) and there was real stout and bulky Zim player who had blown India to smitherins way back during the days of Streak, Brandes, Flower and Whittal brothers.. in tests you could even add S. Ramesh (Ind) i guess..

Posted by DUKECOUNT on (November 28, 2011, 7:09 GMT)

How abt adding Vinod Kambli to that list?

Quite like Sinclair, 2 double centuries early on in his career, but then he flattered to deceive

Posted by DEDKIK on (November 28, 2011, 6:58 GMT)

Well, there are quite a number who scored a century on debut but never made another century. Similarly there are many who took a fiver on debut but never did so again. Statsguru will list these for you. Indian batsmen include Lala Amarnath (who did thrive as a bowler and captain), Hanumant Singh, A.A. Baig, Praveen Amre and a few others. Among the Indian bowlers are V.V. Kumar.and other recent instances include Charl Langeveldt.

Posted by schumanth007 on (November 28, 2011, 6:56 GMT)

I want to know the players who fared very badly in first few games and were lucky to get few more games and then became legendary cricketers. I remember atapattu struggling very badly in his first series..

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 6:50 GMT)

Ajantha mendis is one of them

Posted by shahid6995 on (November 28, 2011, 6:17 GMT)

seems a bit unfair to lump Zahid in there with the others when the real reason he couldn't fulfill his promise was because of a back injury.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (November 28, 2011, 5:32 GMT)

Wow forgetting the best debutant of all, Ajantha Mendis. The strongest batting unit anybody has ever seen including Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, and Ganguly all in prime form and bamboozled by the one and only Ajantha Mendis who got 28 wickets in his debutant 3 test series, beating the record (which was something like 25 wickets in 5 test matches). How could you forget that? After that, he was not that great in Tests

Posted by drdatla on (November 28, 2011, 5:30 GMT)

u can add amre,s.amaranath,gary cosieretc

Posted by JPrats on (November 28, 2011, 4:47 GMT)

Hello Mr. Lynch, a good read to know the bad side of the coin. But how is the other side like? I would be more interested to see many players who did well in their debut had sustained or performed consistently.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2011, 4:07 GMT)

Dwayne Smith?

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Steven Lynch Steven Lynch won the Wisden Cricket Monthly Christmas Quiz three years running before the then-editor said "I can't let you win it again, but would you like a job?" That lasted for 15 years, before he moved across to the Wisden website when that was set up in 2000. Following the merger of the two sites early in 2003 he was appointed as the global editor of Wisden Cricinfo. In June 2005 he became the deputy editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. He continues to contribute the popular weekly "Ask Steven" question-and-answer column on ESPNcricinfo, and edits the Wisden Guide to International Cricket.

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