10 English cricketers who failed to live up to their potential
Many have come, and almost as many have gone. The rigours of international cricket are enough to unsettle anyone not up to the task, and the game has a cruel way of finding them out. Unlike fairytales, sport has no requirement to deliver a happy ending.
Here are 10 English cricketers who appeared certain to set the game alight, but fell away showing just glimpses of what they could have, would have and should have achieved.
The seemingly ageless Graeme Hick was a relentless run-scorer in both four-day and limited-overs cricket, primarily for Worcestershire. However, he exited the sport with a career unfulfilled. The Zimbabwe-born batsman was a regular feature for England in the 1990s and early 2000s, playing 65 Tests and 120 one-day internationals.
While his ODI abilities shone through, in the longer format, Hick never fulfilled his potential, averaging a measly 31.32 and hitting six tons. Yet once relieved from international duties, he carried on as a batting machine; before having calling it a day in 2008 to head to the rebel Indian Cricket League, he had amassed over 60,000 professional runs.
Mark Ramprakash proved for decades on the county scene why he was one of English cricket’s finest batsmen, tallying up 114 first-class centuries for Middlesex and Surrey. But despite ample opportunities, he was unable to reproduce such prolific form for England.
Selectors showed enough faith to afford him 52 Test matches, but he could only repay them with two hundreds and an average of just 27.32 – merely half of what he achieved in the domestic game. Ramprakash played his final Test in 2002, 11 years after his debut, but continued to play professionally for another 10, before announcing his retirement in 2012.
Mark Lathwell was picked only twice for England, but he was regarded as one of the most naturally gifted players in the country by those who saw him play. A Buckinghamshire boy, Lathwell competed for Somerset and his efforts there and for England A soon caught the eye of the national side, and he was selected for the Ashes in 1993 at the age of just 21.
The immense pressure was too much for the opener who contributed just 78 runs from four innings, and he was subsequently dropped. His confidence whacked, Lathwell couldn’t recapture the form that made him so highly touted, and he retired in 2001 citing a lack of desire.
At 30 years old, an international return for Samit Patel should be considered unlikely instead of unfeasible, but the Nottinghamshire all-rounder looks destined to look back on a career wondering what could have been. Sparsely used in white-ball cricket from 2008 to 2013, he also played five Tests in 2012 but failed to make an impact.
Patel’s weight has often been subject to scrutiny and were England more lax on the issue he would have almost certainly been given more chances. Ultimately, that, and his inability to capitalise when picked, leaves the game with an attacking batsman and handy left-arm spinner who could have achieved so much more.