August 6, 2012

One bright spark

Players who had a solitary day in the sun in otherwise unremarkable careers

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