5 Australian greats who made their Test debuts against India

Michael Clarke and Shane Warne
Michael Clarke and Shane Warne had contrasting inaugurations to Test cricket

Representing his country for the first time in Test cricket can be one of the exhilarating experiences in a cricketer’s life. After all those years of putting in the hard yards without knowing if that one opportunity would indeed arrive, receiving the maiden cap from an illustrious icon becomes a gratifying moment.

As Australia prepare for what could be a gruelling series, a 23-year old leg-spinner is eagerly awaiting the chance to make his Test debut. If he does so, Mitchell Joseph Swepson will join an illustrious company comprising of some of his greatest countrymen who were introduced to Test cricket against India.

Here are five of Australian cricket’s finest who received their baggy greens against India in chronological order.

#5 Neil Harvey

Neil Harvey
Harvey did not get a chance to bat twice on his debut

One of the most popular and endearing Australian cricketers of all time, Neil Harvey kick started his memorable career against India during the summer of 1948 at the Adelaide Oval. Under Don Bradman’s captaincy, the hosts trampled all over an Indian outfit still finding its ways to shrug off its colonial hangover.

Even as Arthur Morris, the Don himself, and Lindsay Hassett all made merry, Harvey was trapped in front for 13 by Commandur Rangachari. Upon amassing 674, the Aussies were not required to bat again despite Vijay Hazare registering a hundred in each innings.

In the very next Test, the left-hander would become the youngest Australian batsman to score a century. When he was done, Harvey had 6149 runs to his name from 79 Tests at an impressive average of 48.41.

#4 Bruce Reid

Bruce Reid
Reid would go on to serve as India’s bowling coach during the 2003/04 trip to Australia

A tall and wiry fast bowler capable of extracting disconcerting bounce from just short of good length, Bruce Reid showed glimpses of his potential in the 1985 Adelaide Test against Kapil Dev’s visiting Indian side.

On a beguilingly green surface which did not offer as much as assistance for the seamers as anticipated, Kapil single-handedly restricted Australia to 381 with an eight-wicket haul in the first-innings. Reid responded by sending down a whopping 53 overs and picked up four wickets of his own against a resolute Indian batting lineup in the drawn encounter.

Plagued by several injuries, a career that had promised much met a rather premature end after just 27 Tests.

#3 Steve Waugh

Steve Waugh
Waugh came into a struggling outfit and left from a dominant unit

Before he became a legendary middle-order batsman, Steve Waugh was an aspiring all-rounder trying to forge a Test career out of military medium pace and breezy stroke-play. Right after Reid’s debut, Waugh began his journey in the year-end Boxing Day Test.

On an unusually spin-friendly surface, he fell for a painstaking 32-ball 13 to Laxman Sivaramakrishnan’s loopy leg-spin. A blazing Greg Matthews ton propelled the Aussies to a respectable first-innings total. Waugh chipped in with a couple of wickets even as India took an 183-run lead.

A typically grim Allan Border knock and the visitors’ lack of intent helped stave off a defeat. As for the right-hander, this was just the stepping stone of what would be a truly inspiring career.

#2 Shane Warne

Shane Warne
Warne was hammered all over the park on his debut Test

For any promising spinner, debuting against India is never easy. In response to the turning ball or the lack of it, Indian batsmen utilise different methods to thrive. Shane Warne had one such tough initiation to Test cricket. Despite arriving into the match on the back of a 2-0 lead, the leg-spinner was confronted with the experience of Ravi Shastri and the exuberance of Sachin Tendulkar during the 1992 New Year Test in Sydney.

While Shastri subdued him by demonstrating sage-like patience en route to a double ton, Tendulkar imposed himself with a flurry of delectable shots to become the youngest batsman to score a Test century in Australia. On a surface opening up to spin, Warne’s figures read – 45-7-150-1.

India’s bizarre decision to play with four seamers prevented them from notching what could have been a famous victory. As for the blonde leg-spinner, 707 more wickets lay in wait.

#1 Michael Clarke

Michael Clarke
Clarke announced himself with a splendid century in Bangalore

The dominant Australian team of the 2000s was returning to what they had called ‘The Final Frontier’ a few years back. Their preceding series in India had ended with a euphoric 2-1 victory to the hosts. Wiser for the experience, things were different this time around.

The opening game of the 2004 series saw a blond 23-year old batsman from New South Wales get his maiden taste of Test cricket. Having acquainted himself with the international arena through a slew of eye-catching ODI performances, Michael Clarke hit the ground running in whites.

A remarkable 151 in the first-innings against a bowling attack featuring Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan paved the way for a 217-run win. Australia would go on to breach ‘The Final Frontier’ with a 2-1 series triumph.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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