Earlier this week, Abul Hasan of Bangladesh became the 92nd cricketer to score a century in his Test match debut.
Most pundits agree that Hasan’s performance was just the beginning of a long and successful Test career, but for 28 other cricketers, a debut Test century was not a harbinger of great things to come.
For 28 cricketers, their debut centuries were the highest scores of their Test careers.
Statistical gurus will jump in here and say that there are actually 35 cricketers whose debut 100 is their highest Test score, but I eliminated those that surely still have centuries left in them: Abul Hasan, for one, of course, plus Adrian Barah, Dwayne Smith, Fawad Alam, Shaun Marsh (maybe), Suresh Raina, and Umar Akmal.
The Test cricketing days of the other 28 are long behind them, or at the very least long enough behind them. Some were victims of bad timing, some were victims of short sighted selection committees, some were the victims of fate, and some were mediocre players who got lucky…but all rose to the mountaintop in their debut, only to never reach that peak again.
Charlies Bannerman, of course, scored the first ever Test century in the first ever Test, but never got there again, a victim of time and age, he only played in three more tests for Australia.
There was Yasir Hameed who debuted brilliantly for Pakistan with TWO centuries in his debut Test against Bangladesh in 2003, only to fade away from the spotlight after a series of poor performances. He is only 34, but it is a safe bet that he won’t play another Test for his country.
Nawab of Pataudi the senior, whose son would become one of India’s most famous captains, scored 102 for England against Australia in 1932. He would play in five more tests for both England as well as India, becomingly the only Test cricketer to have played for both nations.
Pravin Amre scored 103 against a venerable South Africa side to mark his debut for India in 1992. He was however unceremoniously dropped in 1994 and despite a brilliant First Class career, was never selected for India again, he played in just 11 tests over two years.
Arthur Milton of England scored 104 against New Zealand at Leeds in 1958; and ended up delivering mail in the Cotswolds after retiring from a brilliant first class career that lasted more than a quarter century. Only one century for England, but 56 for Gloucestershire.
Len Baichan made his Test debut for the West Indies in 1975, scoring 105 versus Pakistan. He lost in place in the team after a car accident, and never regained it.
Deepak Shodhan scored 110 for India in his debut, but was dropped after his third Test and never picked again. To this day, no one is quite sure why.
His debut 118 for India notwithstanding, Lala Amarnath’s career Test statistics are nothing special: 24 matches with an average of 24.38, he also took 45 wickets in 35 innings bowled; but he is considered an icon of Indian cricket: selector, coach, commentator, and story teller – and his lineage continues, as two of this sons also won Test caps for India.
Sir Pelham Warner, the Grand Old Man of English Cricket, scored 115 in his Test debut for England, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.
Aminul Islam scored a century for Bangladesh in their inaugural Test against India in 2000 – the highlight of a brilliant international career for Bangladesh, most of which took place before they were granted Test status. His 145 took almost nine hours and gave his team a fighting chance.
Archie Jackson made his debut for Australia in 1929, scoring a brilliant 164 in the 4th Ashes Test in Adelaide. He went on to play in seven more Tests, averaging 47.4. On February 16th, 1933, he died of Tuberculosis at the age of only 23.
In 1987, Sri Lankan wicketkeeper, Brendon Kuruppu became only the third cricketer to score a double century on his debut. His 201 against New Zealand took him 777 minutes, the slowest double hundred in first class history. He only played in three more tests and, interestingly, went on to become a one day slogger.
Finally, Tip Foster, scored 287 (!) in his debut for England against Australia in 1903. He also won six football caps – but sadly died in 1914 at the age of only 36.
There was also Abbas Ali Baig, AG Kripal Singh, and Ali Naqvi. Andy Ganteaume, Billy Griffith, and Billy Idadulla. Bruce Pairadeau, Dirk Welham, and Frank Hayes. Hanumant Singh, Jackie Mills, and John Hampshire. Rodney Redmond, Roger Hartigan. and Surinder Amarnath.
All of them have great stories: backroom backstabbings and petty politics. And like I said some just had one shining and brilliant moment in an otherwise dull and short career. While some of their stories are sad, it must be said that at the very least, at the absolute minimum, for one moment in time, they were at the absolute individual pinnacle of their sport.
Like John Hampshire in 1969: England v West Indies, Lord’s, 26th of June, a maiden Test century. Sure the match would end up drawn, and sure he would only play in seven more Tests, and sure his county career was troubled and his quality sporadic, but underneath summer skies in London, he put up a nifty 107 and was able to raise his bat to the grandstand. Despite everything, that’s something to hang your hat on, surely.