Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One-match Wonders

International cricket is littered with players who were only fortunate enough to represent their country on one occasion. As it currently stands, there are 386 One Test wonders, 173 One ODI wonders and 65 women have played just the solitary One Day International match. Of course, some may yet continue their international careers, but here we present a tribute to those cricketers who achieved the highest Reliance Mobile ICC Player Ranking after their fleeting moment in the sun.

Starting in the Test arena, there is a surprising name at the top of the list. Drafted into England’s team for the final Ashes match this summer, Jonathan Trott distinguished himself with 41 in the first innings before becoming the eighteenth Englishman to make a century on his Test debut second time around. That double enabled him to reach 445 points and 52nd place overall. Of course, when he plays his next Test – in all likelihood on England’s upcoming tour of South Africa – the record will revert to New Zealander Rodney Redmond, who reached 434 points after scoring 107 and 56 against Pakistan at Auckland in February 1973. He couldn’t adapt to wearing contact lenses and never represented his country again.

With the ball, it is far more clear cut. Charles “Father” Marriott was picked to play the final Test for England against the West Indies at The Oval in the summer of 1933. Things didn’t look so good when he was dismissed for a duck by Manny Martindale, but he roared back to take 5-37 and 6-59 with his leg-breaks as England triumphed by an innings and 17 runs. Marriott turned 38 before England toured India the following winter, but he wasn’t selected for any of the Tests and never played again. In a distant second place is Aubrey Smith – the only England captain to star in a Hollywood film with Elizabeth Taylor – who reached 262 points after taking seven wickets in England’s first-ever Test in South Africa in 1889.

The late 1980s and early 1990s was a time when the England selectors were notoriously fickle with their selections, so it is perhaps unsurprising that two more Englishmen top the respective lists in the shorter format of the game. Kim Barnett only played one ODI which was against Sri Lanka at The Oval in September 1988. His innings of 84 from 146 deliveries enabled England to chase down their target of 243 with fourteen balls to spare. He was rewarded with the man-of-the-match award and a Reliance Mobile ICC Player Ranking of 243, one point clear of Ashok Mankad who made 44 for India against England at The Oval in 1974.

For David “Syd” Lawrence, his career was very much a case of what might have been. Often considered too wild to be viable in limited overs cricket, he was playing just his fifth Test when his knee gave way against New Zealand at Wellington in early 1992 at the age of just twenty-eight. His solitary ODI came the previous summer against the West Indies at Lord’s when he took 4-67 in eleven overs in a West Indies total of 264-9. Graeme Hick and Neil Fairbrother added a memorable 213 as England cantered home by seven wickets. Lawrence achieved 211 points for his effort, clear of Lonwabo Tsotsobe’s 188 for his 4-50 against Australia at Perth this January.

Looking at the women’s game, the same player heads both batting and bowling charts. Patricia Whittaker made her only One Day International appearance for the West Indies against England at Worksop in July 1979. Her 3-36 in ten overs helped restrict the home side to 167-6 and she followed up with an unbeaten 40 to help her side to a narrow two-wicket victory with just two deliveries to spare. After that sole appearance her batting rating stood at 216 and her bowling rating 128. However, that was the Caribbean team’s last taste of international action until the Women’s World Cup 1993 and so thirty years on from her moment in the sun, Whittaker is still top of both tables.