Recently former Australian skipper Michael Clarke expressed an interest in returning to cricket through the T20 format and also enlisted his name to play in the Hong Kong T20 Blitz.
However, his comeback didn’t quite go as he would have liked to as the elegant right-hander was dismissed for 6. Despite starting the proceeding with a delightful boundary, Clarke couldn’t quite keep going as he edged a delivery on to his stumps.
Since retiring from international cricket in last August, Clarke returned to cricket in a match for Sydney club side Western Suburbs. The Hong Kong Blitz’s game was his second game and the prolific batsman failed to make a stellar statement on his comeback.
There are other cricketing greats in the history of cricket whose vaunted comebacks didn’t quite go as expected.
Here are five of them.
1) Fred Trueman
One of the best fast bowlers in the history of England cricket, Fred Trueman was the first man to take 300 Test wickets. Bowling in a classical action, Trueman used to terrorise the batsmen in his heydays with his fiery deliveries.
The great pacer retired from first-class cricket in style by winning the championship in 1968 and also securing a treasured victory, as captain, over the Australian tourists.
However, he returned to First-class cricket for Derbyshire in the Sunday League in 1972 at the age of 41. But ‘Fiery Fred’ failed to replicate his yesteryear performances and managed only seven wickets in six matches before calling it quits permanently.
2) Martin Crowe
Arguably, one of New Zealand’s all-time greats, Martin Crowe was a pure delight for the connoisseurs because of his exquisite strokes which he could unleash with the utmost of ease.
The elegant batsman amassed 5,444 runs in 77 Tests for the Black Caps before a knee injury cut short his career in 1994. The man, who fought a long battle with cancer, expressed his desire to make a comeback to First-class cricket in 2011 at the age of 48 and he even appeared for a club cricket game in Auckland.
However, to Crowe’s sheer disappointment, he pulled a muscle while batting for Cornwall against Parnell on November 19 and couldn’t take part in the game anymore.
One of the most prolific batsmen of his time, Crowe wrote about his comeback, “While getting off the mark yesterday I pulled a thigh muscle running a normal single into the covers. So three balls into my first premier match back, it's over.”
3) Wally Hammond
One of the greatest batsmen England have ever produced, the classy Wally Hammond had an illustrious career for the three lions in which he plundered 7,249 Test runs (22 centuries) at 58.45 and scalped 732 wickets at an impressive average 30.58.
Considered one of the greats of the game, Wally had an outstanding First-Class career in which he amassed 50,493 runs, with 167 centuries at an average of 56.10.
Before the arrival of Sir Donald Bradman, Hammond was unquestionably the best batsman in the world purely because of his aura and invincibility. This stupendous legend lost six summers to the Second World War and retired after some performances which did not meet up to his standards and many still believe that should have marked the end of a glittering career.
But that was not how it turned out to be. After making a brief comeback in 1950 to play a three-day first-class match against Ireland for an MCC side, he made 15 and 92 not out but the cricket there was surely not of worthy of a first-class match. Possibly spurred by that comeback and some cajoling by committee members, Wally decided to play for Gloucestershire in 1951.
However, the comeback turned out to be a huge disaster as he looked completely at sea, making just 7.
4) George Headley
Arguably, one of West Indies’ all-time greats, George Headley could possibly have broken many records had he played more Tests as his tally of 22 Tests do not quite justify to the talent this man possessed.
With an astounding Test average of 60.83 and an even better first-class average of 69.86 in 103 matches, Headley was dubbed the ‘black Bradman’ for his incredible scoring feats.
No feather is an exaggeration for this immensely talented batsman because Headley exhibited his skills at a time when the West Indies batting was extremely vulnerable and they relied heavily on him.
But he would have surely regretted the decision of his comeback in 1954, when at the age of 45, he played against England and looked extremely out of place. Headly scored only 16 in the first innings before being bowled by Tony Lock. He hadn’t played a Test for 6 years before that and surely the decision looked a bit hasty.
5) Sanath Jayasuriya
The Sri Lankan great didn’t quite please his ardent fans when he made a drab return to international cricket at the age of 41, to the national limited-overs team in England in 2011, under controversial circumstances.
To everyone’s disappointment, the swashbuckling southpaw signed off a long and distinguished international career by being out for 2 off Tim Bresnan’s bowling in the 1st ODI between the countries at Kennington Oval, London.
Jayasuriya, who has over 20,000 runs and 400 wickets in international cricket surely didn’t plan that sort of a farewell for him. It would have been ideal had he shunned the idea of making a comeback.