Trying to earn a slot in Australia's batting line-ups of the 1990s and early 2000s was no easy feat - just look at the Australia A line-ups they were able to put out. Tasmania's Jamie Cox, who still stands as the second-highest run-scorer in Sheffield Shield history (10,821) was among the most unfortunate of the lot, never getting the chance to wear the baggy green or play any match for Australia. Overall he scored 18,614 first-class runs with 51 centuries, and also enjoyed a successful career with Somerset. He later became an Australia selector, saying at the time: "The selectors did frustrate me for a decade. I think the career that I had actually holds me in real good stead to be a selector."
Of the eight Bangladeshi batsmen to score 7000 or more first-class runs, only one hasn't played international cricket. A couple of things went against Farhad Hossain: an impatient selection panel, and a mistrust within the BCB top rungs of the quality of the country's first-class cricket. From 2008-09 to 2011-12, Rajshahi Division won the National Cricket League four times in a row, and Hossain was one of their key performers in this period, scoring 2206 runs at an average of 46.93, with five hundreds. But two poor matches for Bangladesh A seemingly convinced the selectors that he wasn't cut out for the highest level. By never picking Hossain, they also deprived Bangladesh of possibly their best ever slip catcher.
One mighty Welsh injustice was rectified earlier this month when Alan Jones, Glamorgan's titanic opening batsman, was re-awarded his England cap a full 50 years after his one-off appearance against a Rest of the World XI in 1970 - a match that had been retrospectively stripped of Test status despite the quality of the opposition. But no such succour was ever made available to Don Shepherd, Jones' Glamorgan team-mate, whose brisk, skiddy offspin racked up a remarkable 2218 first-class wickets between 1950 and 1972, but whose path to England recognition was permanently blocked by fingerspinning giants such as Jim Laker, Fred Titmus and Ray Illingworth. A glimpse of what might have been occurred at Swansea in 1964, when in front of a rapt Welsh crowd Shepherd bowled Glamorgan to victory over the touring Australians with the doughty match figures of 9 for 93 in 69 overs.
When Amol Muzumdar was at his absolute best, India's Test middle order was headlined by Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly, and Mohammad Azharuddin before them. He had to wait his turn, and the wait never quite ended - somewhat like the time, while at school, he waited in full regalia to walk in but had to watch Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli put on 664 runs. Muzumdar, whose batting was more about touch and timing than power, and oodles of patience, never made it to the highest level, but became a domestic giant, hitting up 11,167 first-class runs in 171 matches in a career that ran from 1993-94 to 2013-14. He remains the second-highest Ranji Trophy run-getter of all time, his 9202 runs only behind Wasim Jaffer's 12,038.
He's played 21 seasons and is still going strong, but every moment of his career has come in domestic cricket. In four of those seasons, Saeed bin Nasir scored in excess of 900 runs, twice tipping over into four figures. He's made 11,025 first-class runs at a somewhat underwhelming 39.09, but during his best years in the early 2000s, he averaged above 50 for five seasons. Should he have played for Pakistan? Let's put it this way - 40 Pakistani batsmen have scored 10,000 or more first-class runs, and of them, 38 have gone on to play for their country. Only bin Nasir and Saeed Anwar Jnr have missed out. Bin Nasir's form earned him a call-up for the home series against Bangladesh in 2003 when Pakistan, reeling from a shock World Cup exit and several retirements, did theoretically have a place for someone of his promise. It wasn't to be.
In the early 2000s, two young batsmen from the Northerns set the South African domestic scene alight. One was Jacques Rudolph, who went on to have not one, but two stints as a South Africa international with a county career sandwiched in between. The other was Johann Myburgh, who some would say was the flashier of the pair and whose 108 first-class games and 118 List A appearances included no international caps. Mybugh was an aggressive top-order batsman who came too early for the T20 league craze, was overshadowed by Rudolph, and struggled to force his way into a South Africa side that already had Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs as an established opening pair and Graeme Smith waiting in the wings. Myburgh finished with a first-class average just under 41, and a strike rate of just under 130 from his 92 T20 games, before finishing his career at Somerset.
Had he played in any other era, Sajith Fernando would almost certainly have represented Sri Lanka. When he was starting out in first-class cricket as a batsman, in the mid 90s, Sri Lanka's top order was packed with members of that hardened class of '96. When those batsmen eventually made way after the 1999 World Cup, however, Fernando was considered too old to be thrown in, the selectors single-minded their pursuit of youth and regeneration. Splitting playing commitments between Sri Lanka, England and Australia, Fernando eventually made 10,700 first-class runs at 38.62, and became an excellent bowler as well, taking 269 wickets at 23.78 with his offspin.
Andrew Fidel Fernando
Had he not gone to the rebel tour of apartheid-era South Africa, Franklyn Stephenson might well have entered the great allrounders' club of the 1980s as West Indies' heir to Garry Sobers. Replacing Richard Hadlee at Nottinghamshire in 1988, Stephenson emulated the New Zealand great with a double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets. He was more of a bowler, though: a fearsome proposition with his height, swing, pace and the slower ball, of which he is credited with being a pioneer. In 1991, he went back to South Africa, and inspired Orange Free State, a former Afrikaner bastion, to seven titles. He lost out to some really good West Indies bowlers, but Stephenson still maintains it was his trip to South Africa eight years previously that denied him the maroon cap.