As the 2010s draw to a close, we thought we’d have a look back over the cricketing decade from a different angle. There’s no wrangling over how to include Smith, Williamson, Kolhi and Root in the same XI here. Oh no. We doff our cap to the men who touched glory and fulfilled childhood dreams. Those who went further than the vast majority could ever dream of, but whose dream didn’t quite turn out as they had envisaged. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we look at the one cap wonders of the 2010s.
This wasn’t as easy as initially thought. Batsmen tend to get a bit longer than bowlers to prove that they’re not up to the job. We’ve also tried, in so far as it’s possible, to only include those players whose Test careers appear done and dusted; for these men, there is no return. At least not in our view. So, this excludes those who have recently debuted, of which there are a few from new Test nations Afghanistan and Ireland, as well as the likes of Lockie Ferguson, Zak Crawley and Abid Ali.
The batting order is slightly skewwhiff as a result of having to pick players out of their natural position. Opening batsmen are seldom given just the one outing to prove their worth. Similarly, seam bowlers have also been more likely to be given another go than their spinning colleagues.
Interestingly, some grounds have been more prone to reducing debutants to rubble. Those who have debuted at The Oval, Galle, Hobart or Sydney appear to have been thrown a hospital pass by their selectors.
With that in mind, here’s The Cricket Blog’s team of the decade:
Ed Joyce – Malahide 2018 Vs. Pakistan. High score 43. Average 23.50
It was a case of a career fulfilled for Joyce in May 2018 as Ireland played their first ever Test match. Joyce, by then aged 38, had enjoyed a distinguished career in county cricket and had turned his back on Ireland in the 2000s to pursue his dream of playing Test cricket with England. A handful of ODI caps followed, but he couldn’t break into the Test reckoning. So he stepped away from England selection, requalified to play for Ireland and fulfilled his dream of playing Test cricket. Job done, Joyce retired from international cricket.
Zulqarnain Haider – Edgbaston 2010 Vs. England. High score 88. Average 44.00
It started badly, Haider feathering one behind for a first ball duck. The talented wicket keeper had been biding his time, waiting for an opening in the Pakistan XI, only to suffer the sort of start that makes you wonder why you even bothered. But then it got better. The only man to register a half century in this team, Haider scored a gritty 88 second dig and the future suddenly looked bright. Alas, this is where the story ended for Haider. During a subsequent series in the UAE Haider fled to the UK, stating that he had received death threats for refusing an approach to fix a game. He did later return to Pakistan and played some more domestic cricket. His last game was in 2014. Still only 33, Haider’s career was a sad waste to the game.
Callum Ferguson – Hobart 2016 Vs. South Africa. High score 3. Average 2.00
Hobart in 2016 was just one low point in a decade of low points for Australian Test cricket (home Ashes defeat, this, ball tampering…). Thrashed by South Africa to lose the series, the selectors went radical for the final Test and tore up the script. Ferguson was caught in the crossfire. Called in to debut, his first innings was most famous for his brother flying over from London to see it, missing it because he was queueing at the bar then spilling his pint over himself when Callum got out. Much like that pint, Ferguson’s Test career flowed away from him, never to return.
Mohammad Ayub – Galle 2012 Vs. Sri Lanka. High score 25. Average 23.50
Ayub had waited patiently for his chance in the Pakistan Test XI. He’d featured in a few squads. He’d scored a few runs domestically. Then, aged 32, the chance finally arrived. Alas, Ayub couldn’t quite grasp it. He didn’t disgrace himself, but Pakistan were thrashed in Galle. That was that for Ayub. It wasn’t his fault, but Pakistan were heading in a different direction and good times were around the corner.
Naman Ojha – SSC Colombo 2015 Vs. Sri Lanka. High score 35. Average 28.00
This was a time of wicket keeping abundance for India: Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik, Wriddhiman Saha and, of course, MS Dhoni all donned the gloves for India this decade. So, opportunities were few and far between for someone like Naman Ojha. But then opportunity came knocking in Sri Lanka in 2015 and Ojha took the gloves. India won convincingly and Ojha did okay. But okay wasn’t good enough for Ojha. He didn’t pull up an trees and never got another chance to prove his worth. It’s hard to escape the feeling that a triple century wouldn’t have been enough for Ojha to retain his place. We’re sure he took his one cap and is very pleased with it.
Andre Russell – Galle 2010 Vs. Sri Lanka. High score 2. Average 2.00. One wicket at 104.00
Ah, Dre Rus. The T20 superstar who can do it all; spectacular catches, 90+mph bowling and extravagant six hitting. Stick him up against a red ball, however, and the script is entirely different. The Galle 2010 Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies was a high scoring draw. Chris Gayle scored his 333 here. Russell arrived at the crease with the score at 566/7. He was soon departing, clean bowled by Ajantha Mendis (remember him?!). Taking the new ball, Russell’s bowling was impotent in such conditions. His one Test wicket was Tillakaratne Dilshan and arrived from Russell’s second delivery in Test cricket. It was all down hill from there and Russell left Test cricket, never to return, with a bowling average of 104.00.
John Hastings – Perth 2012 Vs. South Africa. High score 32. Average 26.00. One wicket @ 153.00
South Africa eviscerated Australia in Perth in 2012 and Hastings was powerless to stop the rampant South African batsmen. Taking the new ball with Mitchell Starc in the first innings of the Test, Hastings’ first, and only, Test wicket arrived in the shape of AB de Villiers, leaving South Africa 67/5. Things were looking good. In Australia’s limp reply to the visitor’s first innings 226, Hasting was second top scorer, notching 32 out of a paltry 163. Then came South Africa’s second innings. Hastings was demoted to change bowler. His 19 overs went for 102, South Africa scored 569 and that was that for big John in Test cricket. Australia were all out for 332 and Hastings never got another look in.
James Faulkner – The Oval 2013 Vs. England. Six wickets @ 16.33
Faulkner was a mainstay of Australia’s white ball sides for most of this decade and was man of the match in the 2015 World Cup final, but he only got one crack at Test cricket. He didn’t do badly, either. With the Ashes gone, this Test match saw debuts for Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan for England, and Faulkner for Australia. Faulkner took 6/98 in the match and contributed 45 runs. It was a pretty encouraging start to life in Test cricket. Australia, however, had other options and were determined to attack England with raw pace in the reverse series that winter. That meant a return for Mitchell Johnson, which in turn meant the end for Faulkner.
Ajmal Shahzad – Old Trafford 2010 Vs. Bangladesh. Four wickets @ 15.75
England were at the start of a dramatic rise to world supremacy in Test cricket at the turn of the decade and had an embarrassment of riches at their disposal. Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss were assembling a squad that would conquer India and Australia. Shahzad was in the frame but couldn’t quite seal his place. He took 3/45 in Bangladesh’s first innings, but James Anderson and Steven Finn ran through Bangladesh’s top order second time around, leaving Shahzad to take only one further wicket. His bowling average is the best on this list and he was unfortunate not to get another go. With Anderson, Finn, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Chris Tremlett all in the frame at the time, Shahzad’s Test career was over no sooner than it had started.
Karn Sharma – Adelaide 2014 Vs. Australia. Four wickets @ 59.50
The post-Harbhajan years were not kind to India and they were out-spun at home by England in 2012. Sharma was one of a few turned to by the selectors in an effort to address the slide, but his one Test outing came in a high scoring affair which Australia won in Adelaide. Sharma’s four wickets hinted at positive signs, but he offered little in the way of control and Virat Kohli was soon turning to Murali Vijay and Rohit Sharma to fill in the overs in the second innings. That was Sharma’s death knell and he was never selected again.
Simon Kerrigan – The Oval 2013 Vs. Australia. No wickets, one run
The second name on this list to have played at The Oval in 2013 after James Faulkner. Kerrigan was selected with an eye on the future. He’d done okay for Lancashire but his was a leftfield selection which caught everyone off guard. Alastair Cook didn’t know what to do with him and he bowled only 48 balls in the Test, conceding 53 runs and taking no wickets. This means that Kerrigan doesn’t have a bowling average. His 1* with the bat means that he doesn’t have a batting average, either. He’s a cricketing ghost. So galling was the whole experience that, still only aged 30, not only is his Test career over, but so too is his entire cricket career. He never recovered from that Test.
Honourable mentions – those who were unlucky to miss out
Scott Borthwick – Picked up four wickets at Sydney for England in 2014, but conceded his runs at 6.30 per over. He was at that time a leg spinner. He has, however, revived his career his career as a top order batsmen, batting first drop for Surrey. Aged 29, there’s an outside chance that he could yet earn a Test recall as a batsman. For that reason, he is excluded from the one cap wonder XI.
Mason Crane – The worst bowling average of any one cap bowler this decade, Crane took match figures of 1/193 in Sydney in 2018. It was a disaster. Crane, however, is still just 22, so therefore has plenty of time to get back into the Test reckoning for England. At the time of writing he has been called into the England Lions squad for the one-day leg of its Australia tour, showing that he’s still in the thoughts of England’s selectors.
Chad Sayers – He could, maybe, get another crack at Australia’s Test XI. Highly thought of, Sayers earned his only cap at Johannesburg in 2018. Some other stuff happened in that Test as well. Sayers bagged a pair with the bat and claimed only two wickets in a 492-run defeat. Who am I kidding? He’s done, isn’t he. He’s 32.
Joe Mennie – Aged 30, there might be time for Mennie, who debuted for Australia in that Test against South Africa in Hobart in 2016 that also saw the beginning and end of Callum Ferguson, to appear again. I mean, it’s unlikely, but it could happen. An injury here, an injury there… Mennie, a bowler, claimed 1/85 in the Test. He was swiftly discarded.
Of course, there are many more besides. Raymon Reifer. Sharjeel Khan. Hardus Viljoen. Colin Munro. Vinay Kumar. Peter George. Mir Hamza. Sachitra Senanayake.
These are the forgotten men of the Test cricketing decade. We hope you enjoyed our celebration of them. They were not the first, nor will they be the last, to have so fleetingly tasted life at the top.
By Miles Reucroft