As the old saying goes ” Cricket is a funny game ” and subsequently a lot of cricketers end up having a peculiar career. There have been instances when a cricketer has been dropped and then never got picked again even after performing well in what turned out to be the last game of his career. We focus on 5 such cricketers whose careers were cut short inspite of having an extraordinary last match.
Anthony Stuart was an Australian Right hand fast bowler who could not play for Australia again even after taking a hattrick in his last match. Stuart, who was only 27 years old at the time of playing his last match took his hattrick against Pakistan in a group match fixture of the Tri Series in which West Indies was the third team.
Anthony dismissed Ijaj Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim and Moin Khan in 3 successive deliveries, all with the outswingers producing edges behind the stumps. Australia restricted Pakistan to 9-181 in that game but didn’t find the chasing easy as only a special effort from Michael Bevan, one of the greatest finishers of all time helped them overhaul this total. The match was played on 16th January 1997 and even though Stuart had a very fine start to his career where he had taken 8 wickets in 3 games at an average of 13, such was the competition for places in that Aussie team that he could never play International cricket again.
England Cricket Board decided to rope in younger players in order to move forward once their successful 2019 World Cup campaign was completed. It also resulted in one of their premier fast bowlers and often an underrated hero in their triumphs, Liam Plunkett getting dropped from the team on age grounds.
The final of 2019 World Cup was one of the most watched cricket match ever and even though the heroics of Ben Stokes and a tied Super Over stole the show, it was Liam Plunkett who had set the tone for England with the ball. Plunkett dismissed Kane Williamson, Henry Nicholls and James Neesham, all three being price scalps even though every wicket & every run in a World Cup final is extremely valuable. Plunkett finished with a figure of 3-42 but once the tournament got completed, he wasn’t picked in the team sighting his age as a reason.
Plunkett is 34 years old now and will be 38 at the beginning of 2023 World Cup and hence, nobody had any objection about this decision by English selectors but it was surely hard on the bowler.
Another Australian in the list, Jason Gillespie was dropped from the Aussie team after a career best performance against Bangladesh. Gillespie, who was known for his intimidating fast bowling was a very capable batsman as well which he proved when he scored a double hundred in what turned out to be his final Test.
Gillespie was one of the senior most members of the side which toured Bangladesh in 2006. He was sent in as a night watchman in Chattogram Test where he created the record of scoring the most runs as a night watchman in a single inning. He scored 201* off 425 balls. He also picked up 3 wickets with the ball which had to be his primary job but interestingly, despite being Man of The Match and Man of The series, he couldn’t play for his national side again.
The presence of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken in the squad played a massive role in Gillespie’s exile. Selectors considered them as the better options. The current Adelaide Strikers coach played 71 Tests and 97 ODIs in a career which was affected by injuries at different times which is why he missed 30 out of his first 82 Tests.
Doesn’t matter whether you were a keen cricket observer in 2000s or not, you must be aware of the quality the strong Australian side possessed during those days. Two of the 5 cricketers to be featured in this list are already Australians and here we bring you the third one. Martin Love, a tall top order batsman from Queensland, Australia never featured for his side again after scoring an undefeated 100 in his last game.
Love scored a 50 on his debut but was in constant pressure of scoring runs at a consistent rate due to a dearth of competition for spots in that Aussie team. He finally went on to score his maiden 100 against Bangladesh in 2003 but it came at a time when everyone else chipped in with the bat as well. Along with Love, Darren Lehmann and Steve Waugh went on to score 100s as well. That was the last game of Love’s 5 Test short career.
Indian leg spinner Amit Mishra is hailed as one of the unluckiest cricketers in Indian cricket. For a larger part of his career, India was led by MS Dhoni who never quite liked the idea of playing with wrist spinners. Yes, Mishra did get occasional opportunities here and there but he was never a consistent member of Indian side. He took a 5fer in his last game but failed to play for India again.
After setting up a target of 270 in the fifth and decider ODI of the series, India bowled New Zealand on only 79 thanks to Mishra’s 5-18. It also resulted in Mishra winning Man of The Match and Man of The series awards both where he picked up 18 wickets in the series. However, it turned out to be his last series in International cricket as India moved towards the tried and tested combination of Ashwin and Jadeja again.