Friday, March 31, 2006


The sad and sudden demise of England and Middlesex's cricketer Neil Williams, at a very young age of 43 on March 27th 2006, after suffering a stroke 3 weeks prior to his death and a brief battle with Pneumonia has made me wonder how many Test cricketers like him who made a Test appearance just once and had gone into the record books like he did. His one Test appearance though long forgotten by the followers of the game may have been cherished by him till his death. Why not? after all he took the wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and Mohd Azharuddin in the only innings he bowled at The Oval in the 3 rd and final Test of the 1990 Series against India. He also made a very useful contribution of 38 after coming an as a night watchman and shared a partnership of 74 with his captain Graham Gooch. All of them were record breakers by their own means. In his only Test appearance, Neil Williams was a witness to crumbling of several records. From India's highest score in England to Ravi Shasthri's monumental innings of 187 to Kapil Dev's rapid fire 110 to Graham Gooch's record 3 test series aggregate. But he would never have imagined one day he himself would be going into the record books as a ONE TEST WONDER(OTW).

I made a frenetic search over the net and referred to several books in my library and some of my own notes which I maintained over a period of 25 years to put forth the following statistical piece as a tribute to all these ONE TEST WONDERS.
Till date i.e 03/31/2006, In 1794 Test matches ,out of 2485 Cricketers who were fortunate enough to represent their country in Test cricket, 377 Players never made it to their second Test appearance. That’s a staggering 15.17%. Following table gives the list and percentage of OTWs as of 03/31/2006. This list includes all the players if they have played just one test for any test playing nation.
England 632 88 13.92
Australia 396 61 15.40
South Africa 299 62 20.74
West Indies 265 34 12.83
New Zealand 232 27 11.64
India 255 46 18.04
Pakistan 185 34 18.38
Sri Lanka 103 10 9.71
Zimbabwe 74 9 12.16
Bangladesh 44 6 13.64
Total 2485 377 15.17

Of the 22 players who played the first ever test match at Melbourne from March 15th to 17th in 1877, two players Bransby Beauchamp Cooper & Edward James ‘Ned’ Gregory never made it to their second Test and their test Career lasted just 3 days. It is very ironic that the first OTW, BB Cooper was born in a country , which did not even exist in its current day for and did not represent itself in Test Cricket till 133 years after Cooper made his Test Debut. Cooper who was born in Dacca, Bangladesh, played for Kent & Middlesex before moving over to Australia in 1869. He made 15 & 3 in the first ever test and was clean bowled in both innings, J Southerton & Alfred Shaw were the bowlers, He took revenge by catching J Southerton in the England’s 1st innings. He also held another catch to dismiss J Selby and did not bowl. His teammate and another OTW Ned Gregory became the first player to have got dismissed for a duck and made just 11 runs in the second innings and held a catch. Both Cooper & Gregory, though the latter’s brother Dave Gregory captained Australia in that inaugural Test, never got an opportunity to play again in a Test match.

If the first ever Test saw the entry and exit of two players, the next TEST of the series played at the same Venue from Mar 31st to Apr 4 which saw the debuts of TJD Kelly, WL Murdoch, FR Spofforth for Australia, did not include a single OTW. Though Murdoch can be considered as a OTW for England, he played many tests and in fact went onto captain Australia before playing that Test for England against SA.

The next and the 3rd ever Test played two years later in 1879, at the same venue from Jan 2nd to Jan 4th added seven players to the OTW Club. One of them was an Aussie and six of them were Englishmen. Frank Allan who could have avoided from becoming a member of this never sought after Club, had he not chosen to

attend an agricultural show instead of playing for Australia in the inaugural Test match two years earlier was the only Aussie OTW. Allan made just 5 runs in the only innings he had a chance to bat but had a bowling figures of 2/30 and 2/50 and gave tremendous support to Fred Spofforth, who took the first ever Hat-trick in this Test.

This Test proved out to be the only test appearance for two of Spofforth’s Hat-trick victims, Vernon Royle and Francis MacKinnon, along with Charles Absolom, Leland Hone, Sandford Schultz & Alex Webbe of England. Absolom came to the wicket after Spofforth, with the first ever hat-trick in Test Cricket put England in shambles at 26 for 7, and top scored with 52 batting at No. 9 as England was skittled out for 113. No other batsman except the English Captain Lord Harris who scored 33 and shared a 63 run partnership with Absolom reached double figures. He added 6 more Runs to his Test tally in the 2nd innings.

Vernon Royle was the first victim of Spofforth hat-trick; he made just 3 in that inning but added 18 more in the second. Considered as one of the best fielders of his time in the cover region he held two catches, one of them being that of Spofforth. The other Hat-trick victim Francis Mackinnon, bettered his record of first ball duck in the first innings to 5 runs in the 2nd . He was clean bowled by Spofforth in both innings. Though he had very short Test career of 3 days, he had a very long life and still holds the record for longest-lived Test Cricketer; he was 98 years and 324 days old when he died (born 9 Apr 1848 died 27 Feb 1947).

Leland Hone who kept the wickets in the Test became the first player to represent England without playing county cricket made 7 & 6 and held 2 catches. Sandford Schultz who remained unbeaten on 0 in the first made a useful 20 and was involved in a 32 run last wicket partnership with his fellow debutante Tom Emmett. He clean bowled AC Bannerman, Australia’s top scorer in the first innings but let his brother Charles score the winning runs of his bowling in the 2nd. The final England OTW of this Test match AJ Webbe scored 4 & 0 and became a victim of Australia's OTW, Fred Allan in both the innings.

England hosted a test match for the first time from Sep 6th - 8th, 1880. The Oval became the 2nd Test ground (Lord’s, though considered the Mecca of cricket was not the first Test groung in England.) after Melbourne. As many as 15 players made their debut in this Test, including the Grace trio WG, EM & GF. Six of these debutantes (three each from Australia and England) never played a Test again. England won a Test match for the first time and for the first time in test cricket a team was asked to follow-on. After getting a 271 run 1st innings lead, England forced Australia to bat for the second time and won the Test match by 5 wickets while chasing a meager target of 57 runs.

Though WG achieved unparalleled fame and went on to record a century on debut, which also incidentally was the first century for England in Test Cricket, for the other two Grace Brothers this proved out to be their one and only test. This test also provided the first instance of 3 brothers playing in the same Test, all of them opened for England in one innings or the other (EM & WG in the 1st and GF in the 2nd). EM Grace hit a patient 36 in the first innings and added 91 runs for the first wicket with WG, but was for a duck in the 2nd innings facing just two balls.

GF Grace faced just two balls in both innings and failed to record a run, thus becoming the first cricketer to record a pair in his only Test appearance. Both EM & GF did not bowl but EM held one catch and GF two, the first one was a very memorable catch on the boundary to dismiss Bonnor when the batsmen were half way through for their third run. His second catch accounted another OTW of the match, J. Slight, who made 11 & 0 in the two innings he batted. The other Aussie OTW TU Groube too recorded the same scores. Only WH Moule of Australia had a good match among the six OTWs of this Test. He made 6 in the first innings but was involved in a record last wicket partnership of 88 runs with his captain WL Murdoch and scored 34. He also took 3 wickets in the only innings he bowled. Sadly GF Grace died of pneumonia within two weeks of his first and last test appearance on 9/22/1880 of at the age of 30 after he contracted when he slept on a damp mattress .

The Next OTW, George Coulthard, holds a unique record of playing a Test match after officiating as an umpire in a Test. He was only 22 when he stood as umpire in the only test of the 1878-1879 England’s tour and holds record as an youngest ever Test Umpire. He did not know then that he would join the 7 OTWs of that test by making his own lone Test appearance at the same venue during the next tour in 1881/1882. In that match played from Mar 10th to 14th 1882, he remained unbeaten with 6 in the only innings he batted by coming last in the 1st innings. He did not get a chance to bowl in either innings.

The next three Tests did not produce a single Test wonder, though the 9th ever Test match in the annals of cricket history gave birth to "The Ashes" as we come to know of it. In a low scoring and exciting Test match, which lead to the death of a spectator during the final moments of the game played at The Oval on 28th and 29th of Aug 1882, Australia (63 &122) beat England (101 & 77) by 7 runs.
At the end of the week The Sporting Times published the famous obituary notice.
In Affectionate Remembrance
29th August, 1882,
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances
R. I. P.
N.B. - The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.

This lead to the term Ashes for subsequent Test Series played between England and Australia.In the first ever Ashes Test during the 1882/83 tour of England, which was 10th Overall Test match, six England players made their debut including their captain, Hon.IFW Bligh. Unfortunately for GF Vernon it proved out to be his only test appearance. He remained not out in the first innings by coming in at no 11 position and made just 3 runs at the same position in the 2nd. England entered into the record books for following on in a Test match for the first time after being just 114 runs behind (qualification to ask the opponent to follow-on then was just 80 runs lead). He did not bowl nor did take a catch.

The 2nd Test of the 1884 Ashes which was played at Lord’s and made it the 3rd Test Venue in England (The Oval and Manchester being the other two) and 5th overall (Melbourne and Sydney have already hosted Test matches). Stanley Christopherson was the only player to have made his Test Debut in this Test. In this lone test appearance, he took his only test wicket of GJ Bonnor courtesy, catch by WG Grace. He also made 17 runs coming in at no 11 and involved in a 28 run last wicket partnership before Bonnor returned the favor by catching him of the bowling of Spofforth. Stanley Christopherson, the best of ten cricket playing brothers, along with their father, used to form a cricket Family XI and play friendly matches, mostly against Blackheath district schools.

In the 2nd Test of the 1884/1885 Ashes played at Melbourne from Jan 1st – Jan 5th 1885, Australia’s team showed eleven changes from the 1st Test Match. This was a result of the 1884 touring team that played the 1st Test, demanding fifty per cent of the gate money for this match. Except the captain TP Horan & Opening bat SP Jones, all the Aussies who played this Test were debutantes. The Aussie Keeper JM Blackham who played in each of the first 17 Test matches thus had to put an end his record stretch. For five of the nine Aussies, AP Marr, S Morris, HA Musgrove, RJ Pope & WR Robertson, who made their debut, this became a forgettable single Test appearance.

Morris & Musgrove made just 4 runs in the first inning where as Marr, Pope & Robertson were dismissed for a duck. Morris, who opened the batting for Australia in the first innings was demoted to no 10 position in the 2nd and made unbeaten 10. He was the best performer of the OTWs of this match, as he also took 2 wickets in England’s 1st innings, but for Musgrove, Marr, Pope & Robertson, whose scores read as 9,5,3 &2 in the 2nd innings this was anything but memorable. Australia was asked to follow on in this match and none of the OTWs took a catch.

In the 5th test of the same series, at the same venue played from Mar 21st to 25th, Australia’s FH Walters made his only Test appearance. He made 7 & 5 and held a couple of catches. Aged 62 years 112 days, he suddenly died on June 1st, 1922, at Arabian Sea off the coast of Bombay, India, while returning from his extended holiday in England. John McIlwraith of Australia became the next OTW when he appeared in the final test of the 1886 Ashes at The Oval. He was dismissed for 2 & 7 as Australia succumbed to a heavy innings defeat. He also held a catch in the only Innings that England batted.

When England visited Australia in 1886/87 for the return series for the Ashes, in the 2nd test at Sydney played from Feb 25th – Mar 1st as many as 5 Aussies and an Englishman made their first Test appearance. Unfortunately for RC Allen and JT Cottam of Australia and Reginald Wood of England this proved out to be their last Test appearance as well. England’s George Lohmann became the 1st bowler in Test history to take 8 wickets in an innings. England’s OTW Reginald Wood made just 6 & 0 whereas Australia’s Allen made 14 & 30. Cottam’s contribution of 1 & 3 was even more insignificant. Allen held couple of catches and Cottam caught W. Gunn of England who achieved an unique distinction of playing and officiating in the same TEST when he substituted for JS Swift on the final morning of the test match.

During their next Ashes tour to Australia in 1887/88, in the only test played at Sydney from Feb 10th – 15th 1888, England’s Billy Newham became the 55th player to represent England and 29th OTW. Though William Newham is very well remembered for his exploits in first class cricket including, then a world record 7th wicket partnership of 344 with the great Ranjithsingh ji, he made just 9 & 17 in his only test. Two English teams that toured Australia during that 1887-88 season formed as one team and played in this Test.
During the next summer in 1888 Ashes, J Shuter made his sole Test appearance in the 2nd Test which was finished in just two days, 28th & 29th Aug, with a crushing innings defeat by 137 runs for the visitors. Shuter made 28 in the only Innings that England played. He did not get a chance to either bowl or catch.

The following season South Africa got introduced to Test Cricket when England visited them during the winter of 1888/89 season. The 1st Test played at Crusaders Ground, St George's Park, Port Elizabeth on 12th & 13th of March 1889. Of the eleven springboks who made their debut in Test Cricket, CE Finlason, GE Kempis, RB Stewart did not make it to their second Test and made very insignificant contributions Finlason made 0 & 6 and Stewart made 4 & 9 in addition his two catches. Though Kempis was dismissed for a pair he took 3 for 53 in the first and 1 for 23 in the 2nd. Both Stewart and Kempis combined to dismiss Sir Charles Aubrey Smith of England who also captained the side, but he too became an OTW. Leading a team that included five others making their Test debuts, two of whom were also making their first-class debuts, Smith took 5 for 19 in the first innings and 2 for 42 in the second. The Test was played on a matting wicket and ended in a crushing defeat for SA inside two days

Though he made his only appearance in Tests, Sir Charles Smith went on to become the greatest actor-cricketer in the game's history. In October 1889, when the Graff-Reinet Advertiser announced that he died of inflammation of the lungs, Smith read of his own death 59 years before he actually died. Smith eventually died of pneumonia, in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 85, but not before making a name for himself in Hollywood. Not surprisingly he holds the dubious distinction of being the only Test cricketer and captain of England to star in a film with Elizabeth Taylor, the movie was Little Women.

In the 2nd Test of the same series played at New lands, Cape Town on 25th & 26th of March 1889, three South Africans WH Ashley, WHM Richards & NHCD Theunissen made their first and last test appearance and the lone Englishman , JEP McMaster, who made his debut in this Test ,did not play another test again. In this Test, england’s Robert Abel scored the first hundred ever recorded in first calss cricket in South Africa and South Africa's AB Tancred became the first batsman to carry his bat through a completed Test innings by remaining not out on 26 out of their 1stinnings score of 47. In their 2nd innings SA could not even better that score and were folded for 43. Johnny Briggs took 15 wickets in the match and set a Test bowling record by taking 8 for 11 (all bowled) in the second innings . For South Africa’s William ‘Gobo’ Ashley who returned with stunning figures of 7 for 95 including England’s OTW JEP McMaster for a duck, it remained his sole test appearance. He made just one run in the 1st innings and a duck in the 2nd innings and was clean bowled by Briggs in both the innings. Richards & Theunissen were dismissed for a duck in the 1st and made 4 & 2 * respectively in the 2nd. Monty Bowden captained the side in the absence of Charles Smith at an age of 23 years 144 days became England's youngest skipper. Bowden stayed back in SA and with his captain in the previous Test, Sir Charles Smith to form a Stock broking partnership.

During the next summer in 1890 Ashes, in the 2nd test played on 11th & 12th of Aug, England’s James Cranston became Cricket’s 39th OTW. He was run out for 16 in the 1st innings, but involved in a crucial 5th wicket stand of 51 after England were placed in a precarious position of 32 for 4 while chasing a tiny target of 95. Cranston also held an important catch off the bowling of Martin, who became the first bowler in Test history to take 12 wickets in a match, to dismiss GHS Trott for 25 which broke a 36 run stand and kept the target below hundred. England (100 & 95 for 8), finally won the match beating Australia (92 & 102) by 2 wickets with an overthrow from Barrett when he missed an easy run-out.

In the one–off Test played between England and SA on Mar 21st and 22nd as many as 16 players made their debut and ten of them went on to become OTWs, which is a record for a Test match with most OTWs. JJ Ferris and WL Murdoch also made their debuts for England after appearing for Australia prior to this Test match. Murdoch, the former Australia captain, kept wicket for England in the second innings. F Hearne made his debut for SA after playing twice for England two seasons earlier. His brothers Alec and George, who became OTWs, made their debut in the same test. Together they have provided the second instance of three brothers playing in the same match.

For the first time in the history of cricket, one country, England played two Test series simultaneously. Lord Sheffield led another England team against Australia in the 3rd TEST of the 1891/92 Ashes at Adelaide from 24th to 28th Mar 1892. England’s Henry Wood scored the first century by a wicket keeper in Test matches. Though Murdoch & Ferris made their only Test appearance for England, they can not be termed as OTWs as they played many tests for Australia earlier. But for 10 other players 5 from England and 5 from SA, this match provided the only occasion they ever played in a test match. Both England’s OTWs VA Barton (23),W Chatterton (48),A Hearne (9, 1ct),GG Hearne (0), AD Pougher(17, 3/26, 1ct ) and SA’s OTWs G Cripps(18&3, 0/23), JF du Toit(0* & 2*, 1/47, 1ct), CH Mills(4&21, 2/83, 2ct), DC Parkin(6&0, 3/82), CS Wimble(0&0) did not make any notable contributions whereas. JJ Ferris, not an OTW in real terms, though making his only Test appearance for England and last test appearance of his Test career, sliced through SA’s both the innings (97 & 83) with figures of 6/54 and 7/37 as England (369) registered a win by an innings and 189 runs. He recorded his Test Career’s best innings as well as match figures in this Test. Ferris also made 16 runs whereas Murdoch 12 runs in England’s only Innings and their Only representation for England in Tests. Murdoch also stumped another OTW CS Wimble. Godfrey Cripps of SA who was born in Mussorie, India was the first captain to win Currie Cup when he led Transval to the inaugural title in 1889-90. He also was the vice-captain of the South African side on their first tour of England in 1894.

The 1st Test of the 1894/95 Ashes series played at Sydney from Dec 14th- 20th saw for the first time a Test side winning the match after following on (Aus 586 & 166 & Eng 325 & 437). Australia lost the match by 10 runs while chasing a low target of 177. Australia’s JC Reedman and England’s LH Gay became the 50th and 51st OTWs. England’s LH Gay made 33 & 4 and affected 3 catches and a stumping behind the wickets. His stumping victim in the 2nd innings was Reedman who could make just 17 & 4 while he batted. However he did catch Archie McLaren for 4 in England’s 1st innings.

Australia’s Arthur Conningham made a remarkable Test Debut in the next Test of the same series played at Melbourne from Dec 29th 1894- Jan 4th 1895. After George Giffen won the toss for Australia and put the opponents into bat, thus providing first such instance, OTW Coningham took Mclaren's wicket with his first ball. He created a record of not only taking a wicket with the first ball bowled in Test cricket, but also with the first ball of a Test match. Conningham did not make much impression with the bat as he was out for 10 &3. Though he took a wicket with the first ball he bowled in Test cricket he returned with figures of 2/17 & 0/59. This test also provided the first occasion of all eleven batsmen reaching double figures in a Test Innings. The lowest scorer for England in their 2nd innings was T Richardson with 11. England won the Test by 94 runs after being bowled out for 75 in their 1st innings. They made 475 in their 2nd innings with the help of English captain’s knock of 173, which remained highest by an England captain for 80 years. Australia who had a 48 run lead in the 1st innings put up a good fight while chasing 428 runs but were all out for 333.

John Harry, who became the next OTW, replaced Conningham in for the 3rd Test played at Adelaide from Jan 11th – 15th made 2 & 6 and took a catch in his only Test appearance. But he witnessed the heroic exploits from the other Australian debutante AE Trott making 38* & 72* and taking 8/43 in a remarkable all-round performance.

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