February 27, 2012

Just this once

Players from West Indies who played only a Test each, for various reasons, including the outbreak of war

Andy Ganteaume
Arguably the most famous one-cap wonder from anywhere, Trinidad's Ganteaume had one Test innings, against England at home in Port-of-Spain in 1947-48. He scored 112... and was never selected again. There are various theories for this, the most popular being that he ignored instructions from his captain, Gerry Gomez, to get a move on later in his innings. And he was playing in the first place only because of injury to the regular opener, Jeff Stollmeyer. Still, at this distance it does seem profoundly unfair that Ganteaume was sidelined for almost ten years - he did not get another chance until 1957, when he toured England but, past his best, did not feature in the Tests.

Leon Garrick
Garrick came to prominence after sharing an opening stand of 425 - the highest in West Indian domestic cricket - with his fellow Jamaican Chris Gayle against West Indies B in February 2001. Two months later Garrick was called up to partner Gayle in the final Test against South Africa, at home in Kingston. This time their partnership didn't last quite as long: Garrick cut the first ball of the match, from Allan Donald, straight to Shaun Pollock in the gully. Only Jimmy Cook of South Africa had previously been dismissed by the very first ball of his first Test. Garrick made 27 in the second innings and West Indies won - but it wasn't enough, as he was never chosen again.

Alphonso Roberts
Roberts was only 18 when he was selected for West Indies' 1955-56 tour of New Zealand on rather flimsy evidence (he never did make a first-class fifty). His opportunities had been limited, as he hailed from the tiny island of St Vincent. In Auckland in March 1956 he became the first West Indian Test player from outside the four major territories (Barbados, British Guiana, Jamaica and Trinidad). Roberts made only 28 and 0 as New Zealand pulled off their first victory after 26 years of trying, and he was never selected again - not helped when, after moving to Trinidad in search of more regular cricket, he was criticised for taking the place of a "local" player. He soon moved to Canada and was lost to big cricket.

Herbert Chang
Chang, a little left-hander of Chinese extraction, got his big chance when most of the main West Indian Test players defected to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. Chang, from Jamaica, toured India in 1978-79, making his only Test appearance in Madras (now Chennai), but scored only 6 and 2. Sidelined when the Packer players returned, Chang joined the unauthorised team that toured South Africa in 1982-83. Jamaica was unforgiving when the rebels returned home, and it affected Chang's mental health: at one stage he was reported as living in a coal bunker, and he has not been seen in public for years.

Lennox Butler
Butler took 5 for 89 for Trinidad against the 1954-55 Australian tourists - which, at a time when West Indies' pace resources were thin, was enough to get him a place in the second Test, on home turf in Port-of-Spain. But it was a tough baptism, especially for a 36-year-old fast bowler: Australia's batsmen, who enjoyed a run-soaked tour, galloped to 600, with the top three all collecting centuries. Butler toiled through 40 overs for 2 for 151, and was promptly dropped forever. He did, however, bequeath Test cricket one of its better nicknames - prominent teeth led to his being called "Bugs Bunny".

Victor Stollmeyer
The older brother of the future West Indies captain Jeff, Trinidad's Victor Stollmeyer had been told he was not playing in the final Test of 1939, at The Oval, so went out on the town the night before the match. Somewhat the worse for wear, he was surprised to be told on the morning of the match that he was, in fact, required. He was sobered up by a day in the field, then on the second day made an elegant 96 before being stumped (off a defensive stroke) a boundary short of three figures. His innings helped atone for running out the great George Headley earlier on. But then came the war and Stollmeyer never played another Test.

Rangy Nanan
An incisive offspinner who took 366 first-class wickets at just 23.10, Nanan, from Trinidad, was desperately unlucky that he played at a time when West Indies depended almost entirely on their fearsome phalanx of fast bowlers. Nanan won only one Test cap, in Pakistan in 1980-81, and although he did well enough (2 for 54 and 2 for 37), that was that.

Nelson Betancourt
Back in 1929-30, for their first home Test series, West Indies hit on the novel idea of appointing a different captain for each of the four Tests against England, one from the home island each time. The man who got the job in Trinidad was 42-year-old Betancourt, who scored 39 and 13 (from No. 9). That was it for Nelson, who had made his first-class debut nearly 25 years before his only Test appearance.

Lincoln Roberts
Roberts, a tall Tobagan, put his name in the frame with 151 for T&T against the Leeward Islands in February 1999, and the following month marched out at No. 3 against the all-conquering Australians in the second Test in Kingston. But he was soon sorted out by a canny combination - c Warne b McGrath 0 - and didn't bat again. West Indies won by ten wickets to square a series they eventually shared 2-2, but poor Roberts had had his day.

Tyrell Johnson
Johnson, a sharp left-arm seamer from Trinidad, started his Test career with a bang - his first ball, at The Oval in 1939, dismissed the England opener Walter Keeton. Johnson later removed Len Hutton too, for 73, and added another wicket in the second innings of a drawn Test. But like Victor Stollmeyer (see above), Johnson was out of contention by the time Test cricket resumed after the war.

Brandon Bess
The one person on this list who may yet add to his cap collection, the tall Guyanese fast bowler Bess was in the right place (the West Indian High Performance Centre in Barbados) at the right time (when there was a late withdrawal from the Bridgetown Test against South Africa in June 2010). Bess wasn't even on the ground for the start of play, and proved erratic when he eventually got on to bowl - his first over with the new ball cost 13. He did take a wicket, though. Bess hasn't played again since, but he is still only 24.

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