5 cricketers who faded away after brilliant debut performances

Poor performances on foreign soil was Narendra Hirwani’s bane 

Australian Jason Krejza’s 12-wicket debut performance against India is all but forgottenCricket lovers around the world and across history have been witness to many glittering careers which started just as superbly as they ended. Some debutants like Allan Donald, who claimed five wickets in eight overs, and Andy Flower, who got 115 in 152 balls, went on to enthrall us for years. Their strong debut performances secured their places in the team and guaranteed entertainment for us.However, that was not the case with a few other cricketers. In spite of having begun with a bang, these players faded away from the international scene either due to loss of form, or because of non-selection.With stunning performances on debut they took the world by storm, but fizzled out soon after and were all but forgotten.Here is a look at five cricketers who faded away after brilliant debut performances:

#1 Narendra Hirwani (India)

Poor performances on foreign soil was Narendra Hirwani’s bane

Narendra Hirwani started as a leg-spinner in Test cricket before Shane Warne made leg-spin fashionable again. His Test career started with a bang, as the bespectacled 19-year-old took 16 wickets for 136 runs on his debut against West Indies at Madras in 1987-88.

Hirwani’s performance cemented his place in the side and he took 20 more wickets in his next three Test appearances. However, his fortunes changed when he left the spin-friendly surfaces of India. The deliveries which had spun viciously at the batsmen on the home turf now turned into easy balls abroad.

The magic never quite returned, and the arrival of Anil Kumble sentenced him largely to domestic cricket. He was in and out of the Indian team after that.

This cricketer from Madhya Pradesh still has the best figures on debut but has gone down in Indian cricket history as the star that blazed for one magnificent Test before burning out.

#2 Bob Massie (Australia)

Bob Massie was dropped only after six Test matches after a blistering debut

On June 26, 1972, during the second Test of the Ashes, a 25-year-old man swung the ball prodigiously to completely confuse the English batsman.

Robert Arnold Lockyer Massie was an Australian medium-fast swing bowler who on debut picked up 16 wickets for 137 runs against England. His figures were uncannily similar to Hirwani's; Massie actually has the second-best bowling fugures on debut.

Hailed as the player who produced one of the greatest Ashes debuts, Massie's career trajectory went a lot like Hirwani's too. He played only five more Test matches after his stupendous debut. In these five matches, he failed to double the number of wickets he captured in his first Test.

After that initial series, Massie played just two more. By the end of 18 months he had been dropped — not only by Australia, but also by his state side Western Australia. What had begun as a promising start, soon fizzled out. Having lost out on professional cricket, Massie joined radio commentary.

#3 Jason Krejza (Australia)

Jason Krejza went onto take 12 wickets on his Test debut against India in 2008

Very few off-spinners from Down Under climb up the ladder and take the cricketing world by storm with glorious performances. But Jason Krejza did just that, taking 12 wickets on his Test debut against India in 2008. It was no mean feat, considering that Indians are the best players of spin.

However, he was given just one more chance to don the Baggy Green Cap, before the door was shut on him by the Australian selectors. His first-class performances were dismal and he lost his contract with his state team, Tasmania.

During the match in Nagpur, Krejza showed a never-say-die attitude; he tossed the ball above the eye line of the batsmen and enticed them to play their strokes. He also spun it hard and extracted a little bit of bounce. The Indian batsmen kept tonking him high into the orbit for majestic sixes, but they also kept getting out.

He unfortunately leaked 358 runs in the match, but credit has to go to the off-spinner for not losing the plot; he claimed 12 wickets amid all the carnage. These were the fourth best bowling figures on debut.

Krejza did make a comeback to the Australian team for the 2011 World Cup but then disappeared from the international scene. He began with some aggressive, old-school bowling but vanished before he could create a lasting effect.

#4 Fawad Alam (Pakistan)

Fawad Alam’s 168 made him the first Pakistan player to score a debut Test century abroad

Fawad Alam is one of the many Pakistan cricketers who shone brightly before completely vanishing from the face of the earth.

Alam scored 16 in his first innings as Pakistan fell to a calamitous 90 all out against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 2009. However, he was determined not to blow his opportunity and his 168 in the second innings made him the first Pakistan player to score a debut Test century away from home.

Fawad's 259-ball 168 featured 15 fours and one six. But ultimately his side left themselves too much to do after their first innings disaster, and Sri Lanka wrapped up a seven-wicket victory.

Alam’s patient knock on debut made several records. His score was also the highest made by a Pakistani debutant in defeat. However, just two matches later, he was dropped from the Test squad, and the reasons for that were never quite clear. He continued to be a part of the ODI team.

In the recently concluded Test Series between Pakistan and England, Alam was selected in the 15-member squad after a hiatus of five years. However, he didn’t get a chance to play.

#5 Khalid Ibadulla (Pakistan)

Khalid Ibadulla (left) with New Zealand’s Ross Taylor

Khalid "Billy" Ibadulla was a Pakistani cricketer who played a lot of English county cricket. Due to his good domestic performances, he was selected to represent Pakistan against the visiting Australians at Karachi in 1964–65.

Opening the batting, he batted throughout the first day's play and became the first Pakistan batsman to score a Test debut hundred with his 166. The opening partnership of 249 with Abdul Kadir (95) is the highest in Test cricket for any wicket to involve two Test debutants.

He was selected for just this one series. His Test career peaked there, and he made only three more appearances for Pakistan, finishing with an average of 31.62. He declined an invitation to go on the subsequent tour of Australia and New Zealand, as the Pakistan authorities were unable to offer him the professional rates he was accustomed to.

He was also called into the Pakistan side for two Tests during the tour to England in 1967 after dismissing the captain, Hanif Mohammad, for a zero while playing for Warwickshire against the touring Pakistanis. However, he made only 47 runs in the first two Tests, and was not selected in the Test team again.

Another bright spark that never used his full potential, Ibadulla later moved into coaching for New Zealand cricket.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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