Michael Scott Kasprowicz
February 10, 1972, South Brisbane, Queensland
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
As a 17-year-old Michael Kasprowicz studied Western Australia's top order on Queensland debut in 1989-90 while his schoolmates were sitting final exams, and continued to pop up in unexpected places. Like India. A swing bowler who learned to weave outswingers on Gabba greentops, Kasprowicz matured into a subcontinental specialist with reverse-swing, heavy cut and a this-isn't-too-hot-for-another-over attitude. He bravely carried an injury-hit attack struck by Navjot Sidhu and Sachin Tendulkar in 1997-98, popped back in 2001 and returned in 2004 to help end India's 35-year hold. And when his first-class career finished in 2007-08 he joined the Indian Cricket League.
After three years mostly spent refining his efficient yet aggressive action with Queensland and Glamorgan, Kasprowicz celebrated his fifth recall in 2004 with 13 matches, his longest Test run. During the wildly successful year the prongs of McGrath, Gillespie and Kasprowicz were so sharp that Brett Lee ran their refreshments. To call Kasprowicz a workhorse is unflattering even though the description matches his stamina and size - he was an Australian Schoolboys rugby forward. Regularly clocked faster than his new-ball counterparts (excluding Lee) from a shorter run, Kasprowicz's angle and dart-perfect line caused constant headaches for international left-handers in the style of Paul Reiffel, another under-rated third wheel. He became an important clean-up or go-to man and only four times in 2004 did he leave an innings without a wicket as he collected 47 victims.
An intimidating and muscular presence at county and state level - he often broke bones in England and peer pressure from Pura Cup batsmen hurried his Test and one-day returns - Kasprowicz became Queensland's leading wicket-taker in 2003-04, but after missing most of 2006-07 he had a battle to stay ahead of his best man Andy Bichel. Back and groin problems, which started in South Africa and were irritated by the pre-Ashes boot camp, limited him to a season of eight deliveries for Queensland and he lost his Cricket Australia deal. The problems also contributed to an abbreviated final campaign of 15 breakthroughs, which was enough for him to retire as the state's highest wicket-taker with 501 first-class dismissals - at the time it was 38 more than Bichel.
Popular and cheerful off the field, `Kasper' experienced the lows of being 12th man for Queensland's first Sheffield Shield win in 1994-95, waiting five months and three Tests for his first wicket and completing a regular do-si-do for a national place with Bichel. However, his greatest miss came during the 2005 Ashes series when his courageous 59-run partnership with Lee at Edgbaston ended three short of victory. After adding 20 he gloved a contentious catch behind and England levelled the series 1-1. Returning from that tour on the outer, he responded with 44 Pura Cup wickets for the Bulls and was recalled for the trip to South Africa, where he and Lee reversed their Birmingham nightmare with a 19-run stand that earned a nail-biting two-wicket victory. It was the final act of an eventful and satisfying Test career.
Peter English August 2008
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