Each year, several cricketers rise through the ranks, performing continuously at the domestic level to try their luck for the national side. As talented as a cricketer might be, luck does play its part in shaping a career. Sometimes, a player is out of favour from the side and needs a bit of luck to find his way back.
In the Indian Premier League, Mandeep Singh's injury minutes before RCB’s match against the Gujarat Lions, made way for KL Rahul. He grabbed the chance with both hands and hit his first fifty for the franchise. That was the start of a good run of form that continued till the series against Zimbabwe. Here's a list of five injuries that turned out to be lucky for another cricketer:
1. Chris Gayle replacing Dirk Nannes
Gayle was not picked by any team in the auctions leading to the IPL 2011 after teams feared that he wouldn’t be available for the complete edition owing to international commitments. Overlooked for the Pakistan tour as well, Gayle stayed at home despite recuperating from his injury.
Dirk Nannes, originally picked for the RCB squad, sustained a side strain and was ruled out of the season. Chris Gayle was lined up as a replacement and was eventually afforded the opportunity to play for the Bangalore franchise, and the burly Jamaican has never looked back since. He scored a mammoth 600 runs in the 2011 edition and has scored five centuries for them ever since. It was in stark contrast to his stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the first few editions.
2. Virat Kohli replacing Gautam Gambhir
Before he had become a regular in the national side, Virat Kohli was a U19 World Cup winner who was trying to make his way into an Indian team that looked settled at the top of the order. He played a few internationals in late 2008 before falling out of favour.
An untimely injury to Gautam Gambhir before a series against Sri Lanka in 2009 gave Kohli another chance to get back into the team. Although he didn’t set the stage on fire and picked up a niggle, he was retained for the all-important Champions Trophy in 2009. There, he showed his mettle, scoring a crucial 79 against the West Indies. After that knock, he didn’t look back and has blossomed into the world-beater that he is today.
3. Michael Hussey replacing Justin Langer
A prodigious talent and a prolific run-scorer in the domestic circuit, Michael Hussey made his first-class debut for Western Australia way back in 1994-95, but had to wait till the end of 2005 to play his first Test. Justin Langer, the regular opener, suffered a broken rib before their first Test against the West Indies. It was the first time that the Australian opening pair had been changed since August 2001.
Michael Hussey managed only 1 and 29 in his first Test but made 137 at Hobart to announce himself on the grand stage. Over the next few years, he established the reputation of being one of the most dependable batsmen in the game. Mr Cricket, as he was later called, scored 19 Test centuries for Australia at an average of above 50.
4. Rahul Dravid replacing Sanjay Manjrekar
Sanjay Manjrekar, a technically sound batsman from Mumbai, played 37 Tests for India and scored more than 2000 runs. Part of the middle order, he injured his ankle before the second Test against England in 1996. A youngster from Karnataka, part of the squad, was told that he would make his debut if Manjrekar failed the fitness test on the eve of the match.
As things turned out, Rahul Dravid did get to make his debut and scored 95. He went on to play a number of memorable innings for India, ending his career in 2012 as one of the top batsmen of the game. Manjrekar played a few more Tests after that ill-fated injury but retired the same year.
5. Andrew Strauss replacing Michael Vaughan
For a very long time, the English team was plagued by the problem of finding a suitable opening partner for the flourishing Marcus Trescothick. Michael Vaughan, who made his debut in 1999, was promoted up the order in 2001 and held his position until an injury paved the way for a certain Andrew Strauss in the team. Strauss scored 112 on his Test debut.
The southpaw then made the opening position his own, growing from strength to strength over the years and ending up as one of the best captains of England in recent time. He played a 100 Tests, scoring more than 7000 runs with 21 centuries to his credit. Michael Vaughan was shunted down the order to four and did not get to open after that consistently.