Despite having established himself as one of the best finishers in ODI cricket, Michael Bevan couldn’t make it big in Test cricket. While there were speculations about his inability to play bouncers, the former Australia all-rounder attributed his failure to get a stranglehold on the longest format to “personal demons”.
In addition to scoring 6,912 runs in 232 ODIs, Michael Bevan still boasts the second-highest average (53.17) among players who played a minimum of 100 ODIs. But the 50-year-old couldn’t replicate his white-ball success in Tests, amassing 785 runs at a measly average of 29.07 in 18 Tests.
In an interview with The Grade Cricketer, Michael Bevan himself couldn’t reason his contrasting numbers in the two formats, despite having a decent first-class record. He added that a poor show in the 1994-95 Ashes series dented his confidence after a fantastic debut series against Pakistan in September-October 1994.
“I’ve been described as an enigma, a tortured genius. People can’t work out why I performed so well in one-day cricket and not Test cricket, why I performed well at first first-class cricket and not Test cricket, and I suppose it was my own personal demons."
“All the good work in my first Test series became undone in my second Test series against England in Australia against an inferior bowling attack. I think I averaged about 10 or 15 and it really wasn’t apparent to me why that had happened at that time,” Michael Bevan, who scored 19,147 runs at an average of 57.32 in 237 first-class games, stated.
Michael Bevan burst onto the Test arena on the 1994 Pakistan tour, finishing the series with the highest average from the visiting side. The then 24-year-old smashed 243 runs at an average of 60.75 in the three Tests.
But he faced a terrible slump in the following series against England at home. Michael Bevan had a forgettable Ashes tour in which he managed a meagre 81 runs at an average of 13.5 from six outings.
'My performances in first-class cricket were pretty solid,' says Michael Bevan
Michael Bevan’s Test career never quite took off, and people labelled him as one who didn’t know how to tackle bouncing deliveries. Bevan, however, rebutted such claims and justified he didn’t face any such issue in first-class cricket. He sounded regretful of having made a fuss out of the tags back in the day.
“It was a ball that meant different things and held different perceptions in Test cricket as opposed to first-class cricket. A lot of people don’t realise, they actually have short balls in first-class cricket and they’re allowed to bowl a couple of those an over, and yet my performances in first-class cricket were pretty solid. It was a weird thing for me."
“It happened in a time when I was new to the Australian team. I guess you could categorise it as similar to a bowler getting the yips, maybe. It happened in Test cricket for me and I made too much of an issue of it. It was never really an issue, but then I never really got over it either. It was something that affected me throughout my career,” Michael Bevan concluded.
A member of Australia’s ‘Greatest ever ODI team’, Michael Bevan won the 1999 and 2003 World Cups before announcing retirement from professional cricket in 2006.