Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Wicketkeeper Tim Paine has earned a shock recall to the Australia side for the opening Ashes Test against England, seven years after his last cap and having endured a torrid run of finger injuries. ESPNcricinfo picks out a few other surprising selection calls.
England had wrapped up in the 1986-87 Ashes with a match to spare, so the Sydney Test was about saving face for Australia. They pulled a rabbit out of the hat in offspinner Peter Taylor, dubbed 'Peter, who?' when he was called up, with one TV crew congratulating Mark Taylor on a maiden call-up instead. Taylor (Peter) had played just six first-class matches, but on an SCG surface which offered some assistance bagged 6 for 78 in England's first innings to help set up a consolation 55-run victory. He would play another 12 Tests, the last of which came against India at Melbourne in 1991. In the next Test, at Sydney, a certain SK Warne made his debut.
Headingley has a history of making England selectors do odd things, but this can claim top billing. Darren Pattinson, brother of James, was born in Grimsby, before being raised in Australia, so had an easy route into English county cricket where he began the 2008 season with a bang for Nottinghamshire, having previously played first-class cricket for Victoria. Still, it was scarcely believable when he was summoned into the side to play South Africa after an injury to Ryan Sidebottom. His first Test wicket was a decent scalp in Hashim Amla but captain Michael Vaughan later admitted the bizarre selection had unsettled the side in what became a heavy defeat. Pattinson was quickly moved aside and didn't play again.
England were not far away from bringing together the fearsome foursome that would power their rise to the 2005 Ashes, but the tail-end of the 2003 season had a more makeshift look to the attack. Martin Bicknell had made his debut in the 1993 Ashes but played just two Tests and despite consistently being among county cricket's best performers could not earn a recall. That was until he was brought into the side to face South Africa at Headingley in 2003. He struck with his second ball back and claimed a respectable four wickets, but saved his best for his home ground at The Oval. After Marcus Trescothick, Graham Thorpe and Andrew Flintoff had powered England past South Africa's daunting 484, Bicknell helped dismantled their second innings with 4 for 84. His set-up of Jacques Rudolph on the fourth evening - a series of away swingers before the nip-backer to pluck out off stump - remains a dismissal of enduring beauty. That was it for Bicknell's England career, but what a way to finish.
RP Singh was enjoying the sunshine in Miami when he was called to join the rapidly disintegrating India Test side in England. He hadn't played a Test in two years, or any first-class cricket since January (it was now August), but when Praveen Kumar pulled up lame on the morning of the final Test at The Oval, Singh was parachuted in. His opening couple of spells on a truncated first day were barely threatening at not much more than dobbing medium pace and by the time England declared in 591 for 6 he had 0 for 118 from 34 overs of toil. He has not played another Test since.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the surprise selection of Peter Taylor (left) for the Sydney Test•Getty Images
Perhaps Australia's selectors were hoping for the Peter Taylor effect when Beer - first included in the squad midway through the series in Perth - was given his debut at Sydney in early 2011 with the Ashes having been retained by England the previous week in Melbourne. It was a more mundane debut. He claimed 1 for 112 as England gorged themselves with 644 - being the last bowler to remove Paul Collingwood in Test cricket - but perhaps is best remembered as the final man dismissed in the series, which led to the line from Nasser Hussain on commentary: "Put the beer away, put the champagne on ice." Just one more Test followed in 2012 but he became a very effective T20 bowler.
Jeff Wilson's career is a remarkable tale. As a 19-year-old he made his ODI debut for New Zealand, playing four matches against Australia, before leaving the game to focus on a career in rugby union where he became a 60-cap All Black who scored 44 tries. He retired at 28 and gave cricket another crack, which slowly caught the attention of the selectors. Initially he was called up for the matches against a World XI, which replaced the Sri Lanka one-day series in 2004-05 following the devastating tsunami, and did enough to keep a spot for the visit of Australia. Twelve years after his first cap, he pulled on the Blackcaps shirt again for two more ODIs.
A case of being in the right place at the right time. As Pakistan were netting in Karachi the day before the 1979-80 Test against Australia, a bystander sidled over to Mushtaq Mohammad, the former Pakistan captain and at this time coach, and suggested a friend was a better bowler than anything Pakistan had. Offspinner Tauseef Ahmed was asked to show what he could do and caused Pakistan's batsmen enough problems that Mushtaq told him he was in. However, no one at the team hotel - where he was asked to meet his new team-mates - believed him and he had to sit in the entrance until midnight. Finally identified, he claimed seven wickets on debut in Pakistan's seven-wicket win and would go on to claim 93 wickets in a 34-match career.