February 6, 2012

Veni, vidi, vamoose

Players who had very brief cricket careers (or virtually none at all)

Jelte Schoonheim
A candidate for the unluckiest international player of all - and certainly the one with the shortest career - is the Dutch batsman Schoonheim, from Rotterdam, whose Twenty20 international debut (against Ireland in Belfast in August 2008) was rained off. But the captains did manage to toss up, which means the match counts in the records, so Schoonheim does have an official appearance to his name. All in all his international career lasted about three hours - the time between the toss and the decision to call the match off.

Roy Park
When Charles Macartney missed the second Ashes Test in 1920-21, in Melbourne, his replacement was a local man, Dr Roy Park. He went in at No. 3, but was bowled first ball: Australia won by an innings, so Park didn't bat again - and in fact he never won another cap, as his medical career took up more of his time afterwards. Legend has it that Park's wife watched him go out to bat at the MCG but dropped her knitting at the vital moment: while bending down to pick it up she missed her husband's entire international career at the crease.

Greg Loveridge
A promising legspinner who played for Cambridge University as well as New Zealand's Central Districts, Loveridge went out to bat for the first time in a Test - against Zimbabwe in Hamilton in January 1996 - on his 21st birthday. He celebrated the big day with a four off Henry Olonga, but the next delivery broke his knuckle, forcing him out of the Test: he didn't even get a chance to bowl (or field). And Loveridge never played another Test, so the active part of his Test career lasted precisely 22 balls.

Percy Herbert
Perhaps the oddest first-class career of all belonged to Herbert, a useful club performer who was summoned to play for the Gentlemen of the South when they were one short against the Players of the South at The Oval in 1920. When Percy Fender, the Gents' captain, found out he only had ten men he asked his uncle, another Percy, to make up the numbers. Herbert turned up on the second day, having missed the first - and watched the rain bucket down for two days, so never saw a ball bowled in what turned out to be his only first-class "appearance".

Jack MacBryan
An amateur batsman who had won a gold medal for hockey at the 1920 Olympics, MacBryan got a Test chance when Jack Hobbs was rested for the fourth Test of the home series against South Africa in 1924. But the match - and MacBryan's Test career - fell foul of the weather: only half a day's play was possible, and MacBryan didn't bat, bowl or take a catch. Hobbs returned for the final Test, in front of his adoring Oval crowd, and the unlucky MacBryan never got another chance.

Joseph McMaster
The Irish-born Old Harrovian McMaster had the shortest first-class career of any Test player. That's because he only ever played one game - a match later designated a Test, in South Africa in 1888-89 - and that was all over in less than two days. McMaster made a duck, didn't bowl, and didn't have to do too much fielding either in Cape Town, as South Africa were bundled out for 47 and 43.

Clarence Wimble
Another man with a stunningly brief Test career was the splendidly named Transvaal player Wimble, whose one cap for South Africa came against England in Cape Town in March 1892. England won by an innings early on the third day, and weren't held up for long by Wimble, who bagged a pair.

Bransby Cooper and Ned Gregory
The Australian pair of Cooper and Gregory share the record for the earliest end to a Test career: both of them appeared in the very first Test of all, against England in Melbourne, but never played again... and so were finished with Test cricket by March 19, 1877. Cooper celebrated his 33rd birthday on the first day of Test cricket - but Gregory's connection with it lasted rather longer, as his son Syd played 58 Tests for Australia between 1890 and 1912, and made no fewer than nine tours of England.

Anwar Ali
The shortest possible international career these days would comprise just a solitary Twenty20 international: as I write there are 21 people in this category, including the unfortunate Jelte Schoonheim (see above), but also some other current players who will undoubtedly appear again. One of those for whom time is running out is the Pakistan seamer Ali, whose one taste of international cricket came against Zimbabwe at King City in Canada more than three years ago, in October 2008. Anwar bowled two overs for 19, didn't bat... and hasn't had good news from the selectors since, even though Pakistan won that game.

David Townsend
A product of Winchester College, Townsend - whose father Charles also played for England - scored four centuries for Oxford University, and opened the batting in three of the four Tests in the West Indies in 1934-35, top-scoring with 36 as England crashed to defeat in the first Test in Port-of-Spain. But David returned to his native Durham after graduating, to work as a solicitor, and remains the last man ever to play for England without appearing in county cricket (he did turn out for Durham, but they were a Minor County then).

George Coulthard
The Victorian medium-pacer Coulthard had a strange international career: he umpired a Test in 1878-79, then, three years later, played in one against England in Sydney. He went in at No. 11, scoring 6 not out, but did not bowl. By the fourth Test of that series, he was back in the white coat, umpiring again in Melbourne. Further chances - either as player or umpire - were sadly not forthcoming, as Coulthard died of consumption the following year, aged only 27.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2012, 5:18 GMT

    i feel really bad for two players ... shive sunder das of india and pakistan's anwar ali .... anwar only 23 24 right now and this guy is an amazing talent far better then junaid khan and aizaz cheema ... you can see his brilliance on youtube when he ran through strong indian batting line up in u-19 world cup ... shiv sunder das has all aspects of becoming a great batsman of all time ... but he couldnt make it ... and selectors never gave him another chance to prooe himself

  • Dummy4 on February 7, 2012, 19:33 GMT

    How about KP Bhaskar? Selected in 14 and sure to play in a one day match against New Zealand after great first class record. Guess what happens next, the match gets washed out and poor guy was selected again.

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2012, 23:56 GMT

    @Several people: this isn't just a list of people who only played one international match - it's a list of those who (with the exception of Townsend) only played one match, AND whose contribution to that match was particularly brief or even non-existent. Andy Ganteaume and Rodney Redmond certainly don't qualify because, although they only played one Test each, they made a considerable contribution. The same goes for most of the other players mentioned: Darren Pattinson, Joey Benjamin and Yoraj Singh all took at least one wicket and although Bryce McGain didn't, he did at least bowl 18 overs, which is more involvement then any of the players mentioned in the article. Sunil Valson and Connor Williams are the only ones mentioned who actually fit the theme. For the same reason as Williams, there's also Allan Jones, who played a match for England vs Rest of the World which was recognised as a Test at the time but later had that status revoked.

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    @ Cameron Jones that was a bowler's paradise. both batting line-ups were 'ripped apart'.

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    Connor Williams... played a test that was not recognised...

  • nalin on February 6, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    just to correct Markdal that Paul Sheahans great grand father was not Barnaby Cooper but William Cooper who debuted in 1881 and took 9 wickets in 98.2 overs. It is also interesting that Townsend was picked from Oxford in 1934-5 series when a young Sri lankan [then Ceylon] by the name of De Saram who had a more impressive season with Oxford scoring over 1000 runs at an average over 50 including a century against visiting Australians but declined the offer to play for England in this tour.

  • Andrew on February 6, 2012, 12:19 GMT

    Could have just listed every aussie spinner since warne.....???? Plenty of brief careers in that lot (more the selectors fault than the players mind you).

    Good article though. I think Joseph McMaster might be my great grandfather.

  • Mark on February 6, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    Just to add to the Cooper-Gregory story, Cooper also had a more lasting effect on Test cricket, as his grandson, Paul Sheahan, had a decent career.

  • Bryn on February 6, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    chris rogers? bryce mcgain? darren pattinson? beau casson? there are so many

  • Kapil on February 6, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    There should be a place here for Sunil Valson - the only man to have won a world cup winner's medal without playing a single international match

  • No featured comments at the moment.