Does Luck Trump Talent?
We present our list of Unlucky World XI below and let us know who you think have been the unluckiest of them all.
Some of these careers were ruined by inconsistency or career-ending-injury, others by controversy and politics, and while the rest suffered plain old bad-luck—the fact that they could not break it into the golden generations.
Today’s Twist – Unlucky Cricketers XI
Create a World XI with the following constraints:
- Played within the last 25 years
- Should have debuted (various first class legends like Alan Jones (Eng) and Amol Muzumdar (Ind) did not even make their international team)
- The team can field an actual playing XI in a match (so we are looking for balance, with wicket-keepers necessary and at least 5 bowling options).
- Each country can have a maximum of only 2 players per category.
Australia’s squad of the 2000s had so many greats that several careers did not see the light of day. For example, Adam Gilchrist played 96 tests without missing one. Does anyone even remember who the back-up keeper during Australia’s early 2000 era was?
Similarly, with India’s recent growth, one could name players like Vinod Kambli, Subramanian Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary, Irfan Pathan, and even someone like Ambati Rayudu more recently. If you can only choose two from each country, who would it be?
Comment below on who you think are some of the unluckiest cricketers?
ODI – Faded XI
Alex Hales: (Behavior issues)
Catalyst of England’s ODI batting culture change, individually scored 171 within 36 overs (highest English score at that time), dropped before the 2019 World Cup because of failed drug test, ‘loss of trust’ with team, and strained relationship with captain Eoin Morgan.
2. Lendl Simmons: (Inconsistency)
If you saw the recent CPL 2020, Simmons was in some top-notch form including the final. Watching his innings’ like the one against India in the 2016 WT20 semi-final and you wonder sometimes, what could have been had he been more consistent. 15 year career, just 8 tests and 68 ODIs is a poor reflection of his abilities.
3. Mohammad Ashraful: (Match-Fixing)
A bright star for Bangladesh. Youngest Test centurion at 17, century that upset the Aussies in 2005, but a career that was marred by inconsistency and will be forever remembered by spot-fixing in the BPL. Could have been among the Fab Five generation for Bangladesh.
4. Brad Hodge: (Sorry, Out of Luck)
17,000 first class runs, 80 centuries in first class/list-A, 6 Tests, 203* best, 55.88 average, and one of the first T20 league superstars. Obstacles: Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds.
5. James Taylor: (Heart Condition)
Debut at 22. Retirement at 26 due to heart condition. Was an upcoming England Talent – 1-100, 7 50s, 42.23 average. Now an English selector.
6. Robin Uthappa: (Inconsistency)
If you saw Uthappa’s 86 against England, or in the World T20 2007, or walking and hitting sixes to Mitchell Johnson, you would have thought he would have a long career. Yet another victim to inconsistency, came back in 2014-15 after a great domestic season but not given enough chances. Still a KKR and RCB star in the IPL.
7. Hansie Cronje: (Match-Fixing)
Great captain from South Africa and decent all-rounder, match-fixing killed his career in the 2000 Ind-SA series when he was at the peak of his powers. Passed away in 2002 due to a plane crash. RIP.
8. Neil Johnson: (Politics)
If you saw Neil Johnson in the 1999 World Cup, you knew he was bound for greatness. 3 Man-of-Match trophies in that world cup, dispute with Zimbabwe Cricket resulted in premature retirement as he moved back to South Africa.
9. Brad Hogg: (Sorry, Out of Luck)
Just like Hodge, another victim of Australia’s great era. In an international career lasting 12 years, only played 7 tests and 123 ODIs. Inspirational comeback later with T20 cricket and leagues such as IPL and the Big Bash, he played his last professional match almost till he was 47.
10. S. Sreesanth: (Match-Fixing)
Although known for off-field issues, he was a marvelous fast bowler for India. His delivery that made that great Jacques Kallis jump is one to remember. However, he was banned after the 2013 IPL spot-fixing controversy with Rajasthan. Made a comeback with…reality TV show, Bigg Boss.
11. Shane Bond: (Injuries)
You often hear Shoaib Akhtar vs Brett Lee, but another name that should have been added was Shane Bond. Fast and accurate, 147 wickets at 20.88 in ODIs and 87 wickets at 22.09 in Tests. Played only 82 ODIs and 18 Tests, but never comprised his speed despite the injuries.
Test – Washed Out XI
Marcus Trescothick: (Mental Illness)
First open victim of mental illness in cricket. More than 10,000 runs and 26 centuries across formats, he played his last game at the age of 30, only 6 years in international cricket. Was a stalwart at Somerset till 43 with overall record of 38000 runs and 94 centuries. Paved way for Alastair Cook, otherwise would have been the all-time best England opener himself.
Mark Ramprakash: (Inconsistency)
Similar story, different reason. Over 52 test matches and 11 years, could not cement his place in the England team. Retired with 35,659 first class runs along with 114 centuries. Wow.
3. Mohammad Kaif: (Inconsistency and Politics)
Forever remember for his fielding and 88* Natwest chase that gave India a belief of winning and chasing overseas, his career never took off. First U-19 winning captain to play for India, he made his highest test score 148* in the West Indies in his second to last test, which came at the age of 26. Dropped as a result of chopping and changing under Greg Chappell right before the 2007 World Cup.
4. Adam Voges: (Sorry, Out of Luck)
Same scenario as Hodge and Hogg, but with a better ending. Finally debuted at the age of 35, and ended with 5 hundreds and a record-breaking average of 61.87.
5. Fawad Alam: (Politics)
Well well well, we are finally here. Made a memorable 168 on debut, yet only featured in 3 tests. Mohammad Amir is a career some would regret about, but by the time Amir had his great spell in 2010, the spot-fixing scandal, the 5-year ban, the comeback, the Champions Trophy 2017 performance, and test retirement at the age of 27, Fawad Alam had added exactly 0 Tests from 2009.
After toiling in first class cricket with 34 centuries and average of 56.35 and after numerous selection committees, he finally got a recall after 10 years, only to be given out by DRS due to 2 umpire-calls. Add to that English rain, which limited his chances in the next two tests. How unlucky can one get?
6. Prasanna Jayawardene: (Sorry, Out of Luck)
Thilan Samaraweera stated recently in his Sri Lanka XI that “Prasanna was the best wicketkeeper Sri Lanka ever produced,” and he did play 58 Test matches. So why is he here? Well, his career was always a stop-gap measure due to Sangakkara. Even cricinfo reads that his career was ‘marginalised since the rocket-fuelled arrival’ of Sangakkara.
7. Simon Harmer: (Kolpak Deal)
Self-acclaimed ‘best off-spinner in the world,’ he regularly employees his service for Essex, forgoing his chance to play for South Africa again (at least until we know how Brexit impacts Kolpak). Has taken 636 wickets at 27.17 with 37 5-fors and 7 10-fors. Not too bad.
8. Mohammad Amir: (Match-Fixing)
See Fawad Alam (5).
*Note: (Honorable Mention) Could also have added Mohammad Asif for the same reason here. One of the best swing bowlers of all-time.
9. Stuart McGill: (Sorry, out of luck)
Same reason as the rest of the Aussies here with the additional fact that he also played under the shadow of the great Shane Warne. Still managed to play 44 Tests and took 208 wickets at a strike rate of 54.0. Cricinfo said it best, “Stuart MacGill had the best strike-rate and worst luck of any modern spin bowler.”
10. Duanne Olivier: (Kolpak)
Another casualty of the Kolpak. What makes this worse is his brilliant start to international cricket. Played just 10 tests, 48 wickets, 3 5-fors and a player of the series award with 24 wickets. Then he left South Africa. Also had replaced Kyle Abbott, who had also signed Kolpak deal. Rub salt in the wound there.
11. Simon Jones: (Injury)
We have all heard this one. The 2005 Ashes Series was made memorable by some bowling spells by Simon Jones. At the end of the series, suffered an ankle injury, never to make an international comeback.
Honorable Mention: Lasith Malinga (great limited overs bowler but had to cut his Test career short).
Honorary Tribute: Phillip Hughes
3 centuries in Tests and an-up-and-coming opener for Australia, a bouncer in a domestic game took Hughes’ life. Shock to the cricketing world, brought about a revolution on concussion and brain-injuries.
RIP Phil Hughes.
Well, these were our list of unlucky cricket teams. What is yours?
COMMENT below on who you think we missed out! Do not forget to SUBSCRIBE, SHARE, AND FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
Image Courtesy: Brad Hodge: NAPARAZZI / CC BY-SA 2.0 ; Brad Hogg: Deon Maritz from Cape Town, South Africa / VIA CC 2.0; Sreesanth: Harrias / CC BY-SA 3.0 ; Fawad Alam: Harrias / CC BY-SA 3.0; Robin Uthappa (On chai with Lakshmi): Dharini2991 / CC0; Simon Jones: Goleyjai96 / CC BY-SA 3.0