August 6, 2012

One bright spark

Players who had a solitary day in the sun in otherwise unremarkable careers
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Bob Massie
Perhaps the ultimate example of a bowler having one great game. Massie bent the ball round corners during his Test debut, for Australia at Lord's in 1972. He took 8 for 84 in England's first innings, and demolished them again in the second with 8 for 53. "His bowling was as near perfection as I had ever seen," wrote Dennis Lillee, who took the other four wickets. But Massie, less of a fitness fanatic than his new-ball partner, never approached such perfection again: he took only 15 wickets in five more Tests before being dropped for good, and drifted out of first-class cricket a couple of years later.

Ted Alletson
Nottinghamshire's Alletson played 119 first-class matches in the decade before the First World War, and did little of note in 118 of them, beyond taking six wickets in the defeat of eventual champions Kent in 1913. But two years previously at Hove he had hammered 189 in 90 minutes from No. 9, the last 142 runs coming in just 40 minutes: "The most remarkable sustained hitting innings ever played in first-class cricket," according to John Arlott. The well-built Alletson smashed 34 off a Tim Killick over that included two no-balls (4460446), and hit eight sixes in all - some of them, according to Robert Relf, one of the fielders, "carrying as far as the hotel or over the stand to the skating-rink". Alletson finished his otherwise unremarkable career with 33 wickets and a batting average of 18, with just one hundred - that one great innings.

Jack Badcock
A prolific scorer in Sheffield Shield cricket - he made 325 for South Australia against Victoria in Adelaide in 1936 - Clayvel "Jack" Badcock had a uniquely lopsided Test career. He scored 118 against England in 1936-37, helping Australia pile up a match-winning total in the Ashes decider in Melbourne... but in 11 other Test innings he failed to reach double figures, his poor run including a pair at Lord's in 1938. "I tried hard to assist him," wrote Don Bradman, "and I feel there was much similarity between our styles." (But not between their Test averages, where 99.94 trumped 14.54.)

Frank Hayes
England seemed to have found a new batting star when floppy-haired Hayes from Lancashire marked his Test debut, against West Indies at The Oval in 1973, with a defiant unbeaten century: Wisden noted that he "gave a most impressive display for a young man with rather limited experience of first-class cricket". But after making 122 runs in his first Test, Hayes matched that exactly in his other eight, managing a highest score of just 29. He was unlucky, though, that all his nine caps came against the resurgent West Indian side of the mid-1970s.

Paul Winslow
A big-hitting right-hander whose attacking instincts gave the bowlers a chance, Winslow had one great day in Test cricket, hammering 108 at Old Trafford in 1955 to help South Africa into an impregnable position. He reached three figures with a colossal six off an unamused Tony Lock that ended up in the car park. But in eight other Test innings Winslow never reached 20.

Abbas Ali Baig
India seemed to have struck gold when the young Baig was hooked out of Oxford University to face Fred Trueman and friends at Old Trafford in 1959. Only 20, Baig made 112 in the second innings, despite being forced to retire hurt on 85 after being hit on the head by a bouncer. Wisden called him "a natural player with a splendid eye", but the rest of Baig's international career was a bit of a letdown: in nine further Tests scattered over the next eight years, he made 50 and 58 against Australia in one game, but otherwise never reached 50.

Faoud Bacchus
A dapper right-hander from Guyana, Bacchus was notable for an impressive array of initials, and the fact that his 19 Tests were played on 19 different grounds. A fringe member of Clive Lloyd's great West Indian side, Bacchus only once made it into three figures - but certainly made it count, going on to 250 against India in Kanpur in 1978-79, playing with what Wisden called "authority and brilliance". His eventual Test batting average of 26 was thus rather a disappointment.

Surinder Amarnath
Amarnath, a graceful left-hander, followed his father, Lala, in scoring a century in his first Test for India, in New Zealand in 1975-76. At that point Mohinder Amarnath, his brother, was seen more as a bowler and hadn't scored a Test century - but he finished up with 11 of them. Surinder, who won nine more caps after his fine debut, ended with one.

David Lloyd
David "Bumble" Lloyd hit the heights in only his second Test match: egged on from behind the stumps by his Lancashire team-mate Farokh Engineer, Lloyd extended his maiden Test century, against India at Edgbaston in 1974, to 214 not out. But the pace of Lillee and Thomson in Australia the following winter was a different proposition - famously, his protective box was turned inside out by one Thommo screamer - and Lloyd never passed 50 in eight other Tests.

Chris Pringle
A burly seamer, Aucklander Pringle rarely looked a world-beater in his 14 Tests, although he was always a handy option in one-dayers. In 13 Test appearances he managed only 19 wickets... but in his other one, against Pakistan in Faisalabad in October 1990, he took 7 for 52 and followed that up with four more in the second innings. He later admitted that he had scratched one side of the ball with a bottle top, after suspecting the Pakistanis of doing the same.

Tony Mann
Legspinner Tony "Rocket" Mann got a belated chance for Australia in 1977-78 at 32, after most of the senior players defected to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. But against players well-practised against spin, he managed only four wickets in his four Tests, not helped by the fact that Bob Simpson, back as captain at 40, was a legspinner too. But Mann had his moment of glory: after going in as nightwatchman in the second Test, on his home ground in Perth, Mann survived to score 105 vital runs as the inexperienced Australian side chased down a target of 339 to win by two wickets. Two Tests later, though, Mann's adventure was over: in Sydney he took none for 101 in 20 overs and bagged a pair, and never played again.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jonesy2 on August 8, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    jason krezja?? or is this just for retired players? the bob massie one is so so bizarre. he is so legendary for that performance it is unbelievable how it ended up. maybe he shouldnt have been dropped so quickly.

  • essel1 on August 8, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    How do you forget Narendra Hirwani of India.

  • ROXSPORT on August 7, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    Pravin Amre of India should have been there. A century on debut against the likes of Donald, Brett Schultz, McMillan & Pringle in South Africa & no more heroics in the rest of his career.........

  • on August 7, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    How could Ask Steven miss the PERFECT 'all-rounder' on this scale ?!

    AJIT BHALCHANDRA AGARKAR !

    In a looong Test career -spanning 26 Tests and 8 years- he had a 109* ( at Lord's Cricket Ground , mind the sense of occasion ! ) and a 6/41 !

  • on August 7, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    WV Raman of India could also fit in this list.Just scored a solitary century in his entire International Career against South Africa at Centurion in an ODI during India's 1992/93 Friendship tour.He played just 11 Tests and 27 ODI's in 9 years from 1988-1997.

  • on August 7, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    How about New Zealands Rodney Redmond. one test match only and scores an aggressive 100 and a 50 and never plays for NZ again? thats pretty impressive. Yes Jason Gillespies 201* is also amazing!

  • TheBangalorean on August 7, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    Purely from the perspective of his performance as a test batsman, I think Ajit Agarkar needs to be in this list. He made 109 out of his total of 571 test runs in just 1 inning at Lord's. I don't think he'll get to add to his run tally, and this stroke filled century will remain the sole standout performance in a batting track record filled with several ducks down under.

  • Leonb on August 6, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    I do not think Matty Elliott qualifies - 3 x 100, 4 x 50, ave of 33. And @shiva89 - Rowe? double and a single on debut, plus a 300 against England, plus 4 other 100's including one in Brisbane off Lillee and Thomson and an average of 43. If it wasn't for his eyesight problems he would have been one of the greatest of WI batsmen.

  • on August 6, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    Hirwani surely needs to be there in the list!

  • FallsDown on August 6, 2012, 18:02 GMT

    Jasu Patel - 14 wickets in a test against Australia in 1959-60 would count as well, I think.

  • jonesy2 on August 8, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    jason krezja?? or is this just for retired players? the bob massie one is so so bizarre. he is so legendary for that performance it is unbelievable how it ended up. maybe he shouldnt have been dropped so quickly.

  • essel1 on August 8, 2012, 0:03 GMT

    How do you forget Narendra Hirwani of India.

  • ROXSPORT on August 7, 2012, 19:57 GMT

    Pravin Amre of India should have been there. A century on debut against the likes of Donald, Brett Schultz, McMillan & Pringle in South Africa & no more heroics in the rest of his career.........

  • on August 7, 2012, 6:45 GMT

    How could Ask Steven miss the PERFECT 'all-rounder' on this scale ?!

    AJIT BHALCHANDRA AGARKAR !

    In a looong Test career -spanning 26 Tests and 8 years- he had a 109* ( at Lord's Cricket Ground , mind the sense of occasion ! ) and a 6/41 !

  • on August 7, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    WV Raman of India could also fit in this list.Just scored a solitary century in his entire International Career against South Africa at Centurion in an ODI during India's 1992/93 Friendship tour.He played just 11 Tests and 27 ODI's in 9 years from 1988-1997.

  • on August 7, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    How about New Zealands Rodney Redmond. one test match only and scores an aggressive 100 and a 50 and never plays for NZ again? thats pretty impressive. Yes Jason Gillespies 201* is also amazing!

  • TheBangalorean on August 7, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    Purely from the perspective of his performance as a test batsman, I think Ajit Agarkar needs to be in this list. He made 109 out of his total of 571 test runs in just 1 inning at Lord's. I don't think he'll get to add to his run tally, and this stroke filled century will remain the sole standout performance in a batting track record filled with several ducks down under.

  • Leonb on August 6, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    I do not think Matty Elliott qualifies - 3 x 100, 4 x 50, ave of 33. And @shiva89 - Rowe? double and a single on debut, plus a 300 against England, plus 4 other 100's including one in Brisbane off Lillee and Thomson and an average of 43. If it wasn't for his eyesight problems he would have been one of the greatest of WI batsmen.

  • on August 6, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    Hirwani surely needs to be there in the list!

  • FallsDown on August 6, 2012, 18:02 GMT

    Jasu Patel - 14 wickets in a test against Australia in 1959-60 would count as well, I think.

  • on August 6, 2012, 16:28 GMT

    Aussie offie Jason Krejza could get a mention, 12 wickets in debut in India, one more test match and one wicket and hasnt been seen since!

  • mgzak on August 6, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    What about Jack Noreiga 9/95 for WI against India in 1971?

  • on August 6, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    " Noreiga nine for ninety-five but the Indian team they still survive " Lord Relator in calypso 1971 .

  • Moppa on August 6, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    @CUPULW, not quite. Elliott made a duck on debut and was injured in his second match whilst about 80 not out. Came back about 6 months later to play several very good innings in Test cricket: 85 v SAf in SAf, 112 at Lords and 199 at Headingley (where a young man called Ricky Ponting made his first Test century). So, I think unfair to say he only had one good day.

  • Jonathan_E on August 6, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    Matt Elliott does not qualify - he made multiple test centuries, I believe the largest was a 199.

    I would definitely say there's a place for Brendon Kuruppu (201 and not much else - similar to Bacchus's record) and Narendra Hirwani (whose 16 wickets on debut followed by nothing anywhere else is an almost exact parallel of Bob Massie).

    Andy Ganteaume of the Windies? 112 in his only innings in his debut test, then lost his form so badly that he was never selected again and couldn't even get into his state side at one point.

    Rob Key? A double-century in one match, then very little in others (although he did in fact get a couple of fifties.)

    Alex Tudor. One good day with the bat (99 not out), one with the ball (a 5-for) in separate matches, the rest dross...

    Butcher's 173* doesn't qualify since he scored multiple other centuries and was a good reliable batsman in the team for a couple of years.

  • on August 6, 2012, 11:17 GMT

    John Davison of Canada!!! The fastest World Cup Hundred at the time, and a very unspectactulor Sheffield Shield Career (but a coach of high standing)

  • on August 6, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    I would've thought that Jason Gillespie would've got at least an honourable mention for his last test innings (201*) which was higher than any of his first class, ODI, T20I, ODdom, T20dom innings

  • Poholiyadda on August 6, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    You have missed Kosala Kuruppuarachchi of Sri Lanka in your list.

  • on August 6, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    Narendra Hirwani & Matthew Elliot missing. also Anthony stuart and joe angel.

  • shiva89 on August 6, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    this list always includes 11 players n that is the limitation of this list otherwise cricinfo would have collected many players like that. i have many names in my mind. Brendon kurruppu for his only hit innings 201 against india Narendra hirwani 16 wkts against WI n flopped further. Lawrence rowe of WI for his 302. one match star again. Anthony stuart 5 wkts including hattrick against pak. Craig Wishart 172 in wc 2003. ricardo powell for 2-3 knocks against india for which he was considered as viv richards part II for some days. Kapugedara - the latest addition to the list. alok kapali hattrick against pak in a test. rajesh chauhan from india hitting much needed six in the final over against pak. and many more...

  • liz1558 on August 6, 2012, 9:21 GMT

    Mahesh4811 is right: No place for Hirwani - 16/136 on debut and not much else? It may seem a little unkind to him, but Mark Butcher's match winning Sobers' like 173* was a ludicrous blip of genius in an otherwise routine sort of career. Maybe that's a different sort of article - siezed by genius just for a day.

  • on August 6, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    will somebody like to add pakistani fast bowler muhammad zahid to the list.........

  • Advanced_Donkeys on August 6, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    @ Arpit Phanshikar : Anthony Stuart never lost his form.He took that 5-26 plus Hat-trick on his 3rd game,which was his last appearance.CA never gave him another chance.Otherwise it would have been a great ODI career for him.

  • CUPULW on August 6, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    How about Matt Elliot who if my memory serves me right made 200 in his debut innings opening , was involved in a mid pitch collision running , injured his knee and never played again.

    And Sri Lankan medium pace left armer Kosala Kuruppuarchchi who took a fifer on debut and nothing much after during the time Sri Lanka hardly played tests.

  • on August 6, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Anthony Stuart will be one such player to make it to this XI. 5 for 26 against pakistan including an Hatrick . Yet played on 3 games. Lost his form and eventually his Internation place. Such was the dip in his form that he event lost his place in New South Wales team. With ODI stats with average of 13.62, Economy rate of 3.63 and Strike rate of 22.5 he fits the bill in this squad.

  • Mahesh4811 on August 6, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Where is Narendra Hirwani? Should be in this list.

  • GS-S on August 6, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    Brendon Kuruppu of Sri Lanka deserves to be on the list. In 1987 he made 201 not out in his test debut (in 777 minutes - the slowest ever first class double century). In 3 further tests and 6 completed innings he made only 119 runs, at an average of less than 20. 201 of his 320 career test runs came in his debut test.

  • almeda_riddle on August 6, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    Extending it to one-dayers; Dave Callaghan smashed 169* for SA against NZ at Centurion in 1994, the only time he passed 50 in 29 matches.

  • on August 6, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    Should Basit Ali be in the list? i m not sure but his 127 on 75 balls against Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop in 1993 were from the heavens.

  • on August 6, 2012, 5:56 GMT

    Sir, may I suggest you collect and expand articles such as this one into an omnibus, for the time being, let's call it "The Art of Mediocrity"? Such a book would sit next to "Bradman's Best" and "A Funny Turn" on my shelves. Thank you again for another well-written article!

  • on August 6, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    Hard to imagine this excluding Rod Redmond from NZ who played exactly one test for163 runs and an average of 81.50 and never played international cricket again

  • May4sBeWithThem on August 6, 2012, 3:47 GMT

    Can we reduce the spark further to a single delivery? No offence meant to Balwinder Sandhu - also noted that the list above is only for Tests - but he was born on earth just to bowl that ONE BALL banana inswinger which bowled Greenidge in the World Cup '83 finals!

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  • May4sBeWithThem on August 6, 2012, 3:47 GMT

    Can we reduce the spark further to a single delivery? No offence meant to Balwinder Sandhu - also noted that the list above is only for Tests - but he was born on earth just to bowl that ONE BALL banana inswinger which bowled Greenidge in the World Cup '83 finals!

  • on August 6, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    Hard to imagine this excluding Rod Redmond from NZ who played exactly one test for163 runs and an average of 81.50 and never played international cricket again

  • on August 6, 2012, 5:56 GMT

    Sir, may I suggest you collect and expand articles such as this one into an omnibus, for the time being, let's call it "The Art of Mediocrity"? Such a book would sit next to "Bradman's Best" and "A Funny Turn" on my shelves. Thank you again for another well-written article!

  • on August 6, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    Should Basit Ali be in the list? i m not sure but his 127 on 75 balls against Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop in 1993 were from the heavens.

  • almeda_riddle on August 6, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    Extending it to one-dayers; Dave Callaghan smashed 169* for SA against NZ at Centurion in 1994, the only time he passed 50 in 29 matches.

  • GS-S on August 6, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    Brendon Kuruppu of Sri Lanka deserves to be on the list. In 1987 he made 201 not out in his test debut (in 777 minutes - the slowest ever first class double century). In 3 further tests and 6 completed innings he made only 119 runs, at an average of less than 20. 201 of his 320 career test runs came in his debut test.

  • Mahesh4811 on August 6, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Where is Narendra Hirwani? Should be in this list.

  • on August 6, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    Anthony Stuart will be one such player to make it to this XI. 5 for 26 against pakistan including an Hatrick . Yet played on 3 games. Lost his form and eventually his Internation place. Such was the dip in his form that he event lost his place in New South Wales team. With ODI stats with average of 13.62, Economy rate of 3.63 and Strike rate of 22.5 he fits the bill in this squad.

  • CUPULW on August 6, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    How about Matt Elliot who if my memory serves me right made 200 in his debut innings opening , was involved in a mid pitch collision running , injured his knee and never played again.

    And Sri Lankan medium pace left armer Kosala Kuruppuarchchi who took a fifer on debut and nothing much after during the time Sri Lanka hardly played tests.

  • Advanced_Donkeys on August 6, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    @ Arpit Phanshikar : Anthony Stuart never lost his form.He took that 5-26 plus Hat-trick on his 3rd game,which was his last appearance.CA never gave him another chance.Otherwise it would have been a great ODI career for him.