Luck plays its part in any sport as much as an athlete’s hard work, determination, and self-belief if not more. Like every sport, cricket also comprises of such talented players who supposedly entered the scene when legends ruled the stage. Because of this reason, such cricketers could not get their due despite performing to the best of their abilities in limited games.
It is intriguing to think if these men would have received an extended run with the side, how well the dividends would have turned out. At the same time, it will be unfair to fault the selectors of that time, who picked candidates having a proven track record. It is merely a matter of misfortune concerning those who remained in the shadow not to have received enough opportunities.
Here we will look at five cricketers who remained in the shadow of their prominent peers:
To the ones not remembering Michael Kasprowicz, he was part of Australia’s famous tenth wicket partnership in the Birmingham Test 2005 that nearly took them home. Replacing spearhead Glenn McGrath for that game, he added more value with the bat than with the ball. Winning that clash for Australia would have added a feather to his Test career, which remained unfulfilled.
The Queensland bowler remained mainly on the sidelines due to Australia going for the likes of McGrath, Brett Lee, and Jason Gillespie. But even in a 38-Test career, the seamer had his moments. Kasprowicz was more of a sub-continent specialist because of his ability to generate reverse swing.
The 48-year old Kasprowicz was Australia’s key man on their successful outing in red-ball cricket in India in 2004, picking up nine scalps in four games. Besides, 2004 was also his best year in Tests, having snared 47 wickets at 23.74.
Around the time Dinesh Karthik was beginning to make a mark, MS Dhoni burst to the scene due to which the former’s career came to a halt. MS Dhoni’s lightning-fast presence behind the stumps and his extraordinary ability with the bat began closing doors for Karthik. Dinesh Karthik was central to India’s Test series win in England in 2007, scoring 263 runs in three Tests at an average of above 40.
Even as the Tamil Nadu batsman found himself out of the national side, he consistently kept milking runs in domestic cricket. But also when Dhoni retired from Tests in late 2014, the selectors preferred Wriddhiman Saha over the 34-year old. Karthik’s second chance in the most extended format came knocking in 2018 in England. Sadly, he wasn’t able to capitalise on those, managing only 21 runs in two Tests.
Instead, the veteran has transformed into a short-format specialist. In recent times, Karthik has crafted significant knocks for India, especially in T20s. As per the latest reports, he remains optimistic of making his way to India’s squad for the 2020 T20 World Cup.
The Australian batting line-up between the late 1990s till mid-2000s was the hardest to break into. It had the most settled batting order, having the best players from the domestic circuit. In light of this, Brad Hodge received his first Baggy Green against West Indies in 2005-06. The Victorian didn’t disappoint and averaged a daunting 58.42 in his first five Tests.
Yet, he didn’t play his next Test until 2008, which turned out to be his last. Hodge announced his retirement from first-class cricket in 2009 in a bid to prolong his white-ball career. In an interview, Hodge lamented the selectors’ lapse in not picking him despite putting on promising performances. The 45-year old continued representing Australia in limited-overs cricket, including in 2007 50- over World Cup, scoring 152 runs in six games. He was also part of the Aussie squad in 2007 T20 World Cup and the edition of 2014.
With over 20000 runs in first-class cricket, there remained a gap of five years between Chris Rogers’ first and second Test. Amid that duration, Australia tried the likes of Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Phil Jaques, and Phillip Hughes at the top, who delivered mixed returns. As a quintessential Test batsman, Rogers received his second chance in Ashes 2013 on the back of his experience in English conditions.
The southpaw made 367 runs in Ashes 2013, including a maiden hundred in Chester-Le-Street, making him the second-oldest Australian Test centurion. Despite losing that series, the Baggy Greens put on solid foundations at the top around Rogers. He followed that rubber with another productive series against the Englishmen.
In the return series down under, the duo of David Warner and Rogers gave the tourists a torrid time. The 42-year old amassed 463 runs in the five-match series, finishing as the third-highest run-getter. Rogers signed off from the game in Ashes 2015 in which he accumulated 480 runs in five games in a losing cause.
Stuart MacGill could’ve been the most reliable Test spinner for Australia if not born in the era of Shane Warne. Macgill possessed bowling a massive leg-break and a beautiful wrong’un. The leggie’s opportunity followed during Warne’s year-long absence in 2003-04 due to failing a drug test. During that period, he yielded 53 wickets in 11 Tests. His best figures of 8/108 in an innings came against Bangladesh in 2005.
As Warne retired from international cricket, hope arose for the New South Wales spinner. Sadly, he couldn’t make a desirable impact. After struggling against Sri Lanka, MacGill hung up his boots in the subsequent series against West Indies in 2008. In 44 Tests, the 49-year old picked up 208 scalps at a strike rate of 54, which was slightly better than that of Warne.
In retrospect, Warne was not only the best leg-spinner of his time, but he was also a team man. Warne was capable of adding invaluable runs, assisting the captain, and was an excellent slip fielder too.