Wisden Cricket Monthly / Features

March 2005

The XI worst debuts

Edward Craig reveals the players who weren't so quick off the blocks

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Edward Craig reveals the players who weren't so quick off the blocks



Over before it even began: Andy Lloyd is felled by Malcolm Marshall © Getty Images
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1 Graham Gooch (Eng)
1st Test v Aus 1975, Edgbaston
Gooch's famous pair has become a fillip for any aspiring player failing at the first attempt. He faced a total of 10 balls and was in the middle for eight minutes as he made a calamitous start to one of England's great Test careers. The Aussie quicks famously rolled England over by an innings and Gooch was dropped after the second Test, not to return until June 1978.

2 Andy Lloyd (Eng)
1st Test v WI 1984, Edgbaston
Lloyd made his Test debut aged 27, picked on his home ground after doing well in the ODIs that preceded the series against West Indies. Ten runs and 30 minutes into his first innings, Malcolm Marshall hit him on the head and he spent the rest of the match in hospital with blurred vision. That was his only Test performance, earning him the distinction of being the only Test player to open the innings and never be out.

3 Nilesh Kulkarni (Ind)
1st Test v SL 1997-98, Colombo
Kulkarni played his first game at Colombo against Sri Lanka and after two days he must have felt Test cricket was pretty easy. Not only had India declared at 537 for 8 (Kulkarni did not bat) but he then became the first Indian to take a wicket with his first ball. It was his solitary success: 419 balls later his figures were 70-12-195-1, as Sri Lanka piled on a world record 952 for 6 declared. He has played two Tests since, claiming one more victim.

4 Gavin Hamilton (Eng)
1st Test v SA 1999-2000, Johannesburg Picked for the tour to South Africa on the strength of a powerful all-round performance for Scotland in the 1999 World Cup, Hamilton faced Allan Donald on a green pitch at Johannesburg and made a pair. He also failed to take a wicket and, unfortunately, the Gooch effect did not apply. He has not played for England since and moved to Durham.



Jeff Thomson: came back from a broken toe to torment England © The Cricketer
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5 Malcolm Marshall (WI)
2nd Test v Ind 1978-79, Bangalore
Aged 20, Marshall suffered the ignominy of a dodgy leg-before decision on the subcontinent, trapped in front by Bhagwat Chandrasekhar. He claimed he hit it and cried on his way back to the pavilion. He did take his first Test wicket in this dull draw and from then on it was him making the batsmen cry.

6 Jeff Thomson (Aus)
2nd Test v Pak 1972-73, Melbourne
Picked as a raw 22-year-old quick against Pakistan, Thommo decided not to tell the selectors of a broken bone in his foot. The result was a poor match: 0 for 100 in 17 overs in the first innings and only two overs in the second. He was dropped and returned two years later in an Ashes series, as some Englishmen can testify. They still have the bruises.

7 Len Hutton (Eng)
1st Test v NZ 1937, Lord's
Second only to Gooch on the England-great/rubbish-debut scale, Sir Len opened his international account with 0 and 1. His opening partner Jim Parks was also playing in his first game, making 22 and 7. Parks, not to be confused with his more prolific son, never played again, while Hutton added 78 Tests and 6,970 runs to this unpromising start. And he did make 100 exactly in his next innings.

8 Don Bradman (Aus)
1st Test v Eng 1928-29, Brisbane
Picked as the great, young hope to inspire the ageing Australian side to an Ashes victory, the Don started well enough running out Jack Hobbs and fielding like a 1920s Jonty Rhodes. But his batting did not match this early promise - 18 and 1 - as the home side suffered a heavy defeat, bowled out for 66 in the second innings. Bradman became the scapegoat and was 12th man in the 2nd Test, the only time he was dropped in his career.

9 Jimmy Cook (SA)
1st Test v Ind 1992-93, Durban
The years of South African isolation destroyed Jimmy Cook's international career. A run-making monster in domestic and rebel tour cricket, as well as dominating at Somerset, he had to wait nearly 20 years before making his Test debut against India in Durban. He was out first ball of the match. He made 43 in the second innings but played only two more Tests.



Len Hutton faces the press after his record 364 at The Oval ... a year after his dismal debut © Getty Images
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10 JCW MacBryan (Eng)
4th Test v SA 1924, Old Trafford
Opening batsman Jack MacBryan has the ignominious record of being the only Test player to do nothing. Playing in a rain-affected match at Old Trafford, he did not bowl or take a catch in South Africa's damp first innings and England never had a chance to bat as the Manchester weather took hold. In a side over-loaded with openers, JW Hearne took his place in the next game and, despite topping Somerset's averages six times, MacBryan never played again.

11 Shane Warne (Aus)
3rd Test v Ind 1991-92, Sydney
Out of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the 20th Century, two had stuttering starts, giving hope to any disheartened debutant. Within a year Shane Warne would rule the entire world except India but during his first outing the Indians licked their lips and smashed him everywhere. As with Thomson his introduction to Test cricket gave no indication of the havoc he would go on to wreak. He returned figures 45-7-150-1. Now he has 566 Test wickets to his name but still averages only 47.18 against his first opponents.

This article was first published in the March issue of The Wisden Cricketer.
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