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Domestic toilers who waited their turn

A list of domestic performers who were recognised belatedly as international prospects

Annesha Ghosh
Annesha Ghosh
Adam Voges acknowledges the spectators as he walks off after declaring  •  Getty Images

Adam Voges acknowledges the spectators as he walks off after declaring  •  Getty Images

With Fawad Alam making a long-awaited return to the Pakistan side, 11 years since his last Test, ESPNcricinfo looks at others who famously toiled away in domestic cricket, before being belatedly rewarded with a call-up to the national side, either as debut or a return.
Martin Bicknell
An agonising, belated recall that in its lead-up, seemed to mirror a Beckettian script in which "nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!" Bicknell, a county stalwart for Surrey, played four Tests for England, punctuated by a 10-year gap.
His surprise Test recall for the fourth Test at Headingley in 2003, wasn't bereft of dramatic irony. Bicknell was 34, and seemingly resigned to his fate, never more than in his doleful utterance two years prior: "Whether I score a hundred and take another eight wickets in this game it's still not going to happen."
Plagued by a long-term Achilles problem, Bicknell ironically owed his recall to his injured colleagues - as many as eight injured fast bowlers that summer. Named in the squad along with Kabir Ali, Bicknell duly took a wicket with his second ball - and four overall - in the Headingley Test before bowling England to a series-levelling victory at The Oval.
S Badrinath
Domestic season after domestic season, S Badrinath, the former India and Tamil Nadu batsman, piled on the runs - the 2005-06 Ranji Trophy in particular a measure of his prolific output. He made 636 runs at an average of nearly 80 on the way to the state captaincy in 2006. A national call-up, however, eluded him until the first IPL came by in 2008, which gave his career a second wind.
In the company of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) team-mate Michael Hussey, who, too, had to take the protracted, prolific run-scoring route to the Australian side, Badrinath married his ability to play anchor with quick-scoring across formats. He followed up an aggregate of 876 runs that first-class season with 192 runs in 11 IPL innings at a strike rate of 147.39. Still, no call-up for the ODI tour of Sri Lanka in 2008.
That was, however, until an elbow injury to Sachin Tendulkar opened up a spot on the same tour, in Dambulla, where Badrinath impressed immediately, guiding India home with an unbeaten 27 in a low-scoring match. He went on to make only nine international appearances across formats after that, including two Tests in 2010, before retiring from all formats in 2018 .
Stephen Cook
A first-class debut as teenager: check. An international debut 15 years later: check. A hundred on Test debut: check, check, check! Meet Stephen Cook, the unofficial poster boy of this list.
"What's an hour in the 90s when you've waited 33 years?" Michael Atherton would famously ask on air as Cook raised his bat in Centurion on the 187th delivery of his innings to celebrate his century on debut, at age 33.
What are nerves to the son of a former Test cricketer who waited in the wings, despite plenty of consistent first-class seasons under his belt, as the South Africa opening duties changed hands among Graeme Smith to Neil McKenzie and later Alviro Petersen? Not to mention that the lead-up to his debut at home, in a Test against England, had him being billed as the solution to South Africa's travails, following the team's slew of failures on the tour of India and at home.
The series already lost, and the first South African wicket fallen in only the 11th over of what was the fourth and final game of the series, Cook combined with Hashim Amla for a double-century stand to set-up their emphatic - if consolatory - 280-run victory.
Chris Rogers
A month short of 36, Chris Rogers' five-year wait to wear the Baggy Green for a second time in an international career spanning eight years, ended as confirmation arrived, on the eve of the Trent Bridge Ashes Test in 2013, that he would open for Australia with Shane Watson.
The retirements of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, clubbed with the Rogers' experience of having played in four first-class counties, meant that when the Australian selectors were on the lookout for a seasoned opening option who had familiarity with English conditions, the left-handed Rogers stood out with a CV that included a prolific run with Middlesex around that time.
Concerns over a truncated, one-Test career swept aside, Rogers' second-coming saw him come into his own, his consistency at the top of the order a marked departure from the batsman that scored just 4 and 15 on Test debut against India, in Perth in 2008. He made a second-innings fifty in Nottingham, but a more resounding statement of intent came three games later: at Chester-Le-Street, Rogers became the second-oldest man to score a maiden Test century for Australia, behind the 37-year-old Arthur Richardson in 1926.
Rogers earned a further 20 Test caps, his extended run in the Test side ending in 2015 at the age of 35, with 14 fifties and five centuries at an average of nearly 43.
Adam Voges
"Just to get the opportunity firstly and then to make the most of it and get a hundred on debut, is something I've been thinking about for a long time." It is easy to mistake these words for Stephen Cook's, and be confounded further by the knowledge that like Cook, Adam Voges, too, brought up his maiden Test ton off the 187th ball he faced. And as with Cook, Voges' reflections from his Test debut sum up what a wait of a decade or more on the first-class circuit can feel like for players, who, time and again, have failed - if inexplicably - to make the Test cut despite delivering consistently.
Voges' maiden outing in the format for Australia, at age 35, came after 160 first-class appearances spanning more than 12 years, and crystalised into a most unexpected title for the top-order batsman: a hundred against West Indies in 2015 that made him the oldest centurion on debut in Test history. The toil at the domestic level, every so often across seasons strengthening the imminence of a Test call-up, saw Voges rack up 1358 runs at 104.46 in the preceding 2014-15 Sheffield Shield, including six centuries from 11 matches.
The discipline also earned him a place in the starting XI in the 2015 Ashes series that followed and, later, vice-captaincy duties under Steven Smith, and underpinned his 62 average in a 20-match Test career. A lean run with the bat since being ruled out of the third Test against South Africa in November 2016 with concussion, however, forced Voges into retirement from international cricket.
Jacques Rudolph
With a view to redeveloping his game, South Africa batsman Jacques Rudolph suspended his international career - which included 35 Tests up to that point - with a self-imposed exile in January 2007, following a three-year Kolpak contract with Yorkshire. But after opting to come back into the South African season in 2010-2011, having left his Yorkshire deal a year early, the left-hander continued his impressive run of form in four-day cricket that had begun with four centuries in a chart-topping tally of 954 first-class runs in the 2010-11 SuperSport series.
On the back of his prolific run-scoring in back-to-back first-class seasons, Rudolph was recalled to the South Africa Test squad for the two-match series against Australia."His experience and current form make him an asset to South Africa and at the age of 30 he has plenty of good years of cricket ahead of him," selection convener Andrew Hudson said at the time.
In his second stint as a Test cricketer, Rudolph opened with Graeme Smith, replacing Alviro Petersen, but struggled to replicate his domestic form on the international stage. Consequently, he was moved down into the middle order after only eight innings, but it wasn't too bad a thing for Rudolph after all, for his only Test century following his move back to South Africa came off a middle-order position. He played another 12 Tests, and was part of the squad that won the Test mace off England in mid-2012.
Malinda Pushpakumara
Sri Lanka's most prolific domestic wicket-taker of recent years, left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara forced himself into a Sri Lanka Test squad, at the age of 29, 11 years after his first-class debut with 558 wickets in the format leading up to his maiden Test call-up.
With Rangana Herath filling the first-choice specialist left-arm orthodox role, and the selectors seemingly disinclined towards accommodating a second such spin-bowling option in the Test side, Pushpakumara had to wait for his turn until an injury to Angelo Mathews handed Herath the captaincy, and resulted in a call-up for Pushpakumara.
Although he warmed the bench that series in February 2017, the subsequent home series - against India - six months later brought him a Test debut in Colombo, where he had to bowl 22.1 overs for his maiden international wicket, Ajinkya Rahane.
However, his up-and-down international career - he featured as the fifth spinner in the home series against England in September last year and was left out for the tour of New Zealand three months later - has seen him feature in only four Tests and two ODIs so far, all on home soil, with 15 wickets against his name.
In January 2019, he built a strong case for a recall to the Test side with the rare feat of taking all ten wickets in a first-class innings, but an international appearance since November 2018 is yet to come by.

Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo