As of today, a total of 297 players have appeared for the Indian Cricket Team in a test match, of which 296 players have been awarded a test cap (Oh, I will get to that). Many of them were given a single opportunity to seize the moment, which they failed to do, and subsequently faded into oblivion.
Today I am going to talk about 5 such players.
Yograj Singh is best known as the father of one of the greatest ever players of the shorter formats of the game, India has ever produced, Yuvraj Singh. He is also known as an actor who has acted in several Punjabi and Hindi movies, most notable of them being the 2013 Farhan Akhtar starrer Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
He is also known for lashing out on the then Indian captain M.S. Dhoni saying that one day he will be penniless and will have to beg.
One of the things which he is less known for is his career as an international cricketer. He played 6 ODIs and a single test match against New Zealand sharing his debut with the present Indian head coach Ravi Shastri. He failed to make a mark conceding 63 runs and picking up a solitary wicket. However, he can derive some satisfaction out of the fact that his solitary test scalp is the Kiwi legend and former Indian coach, John Wright.
India versus Pakistan is hands down the mother of all rivalries in cricket. The intensity of the rivalry stems from bitter diplomatic relations and a long history of conflicts between the two countries. Players from both camps are under enormous pressure every time the teams go head to head. However, 3 players have the unique distinction of playing for both sides, Amir Elahi being one of them.
Amir Elahi played 6 international test matches between 1947 and 1952, one of them being for India against Australia. Then he went on to play 5 test matches for Pakistan once they acquired Test status in 1952. He holds the distinction of being cap #1 for Pakistan.
Trinidad born Robin Singh was an important cog in the wheel in the iconic Indian ODI squad in the 90s. He made his debut in 1989 shortly after which he was dropped and returned to the team after long wait of 7 years in the domestic arena, becoming a mainstay between 1996 and 2001. A genuine all-rounder, he was a handy middle-lower order batsman with great finishing skills and a bowler who could bowl economically in the middle overs. However, the aspect of his game he is most fondly remembered for is is fielding. Another aspect of his game is fitness levels which is imperative in today’s cricket setting, but was unheard of in Indian cricket during those days.
Robin Singh gave numerous memories to cherish during the 90s over his career spanning 136 One day Internationals. However, he couldn’t replicate his success in the longest format of the game as he played just one test match, a defeat against Zimbabwe in 1998 where he scored 27 runs and ended up wicketless.
November 15, 1989 marks an important say in the history of cricket as on this day, Sachin Tendulkar went out to play for India for the first time and thus began a career spanning 24 years, 34,357 runs, innumerable records and countless memories that he gave the fans and forever changed the game.
Along with Tendulkar, a ripe 21 year old fast bowler named Salil Ankola also made his debut in the same match but his career was anything but spectacular. He picked one wicket in each innings and missed the remainder of the test series due to an injury, never to be seen in a test match again for India.
Trivia – He was on of the four cricketers who debut in the game along with Tendulkar, Pakistani legend Waqar Younis and Shahid Saeed, a fellow member of the one-test wonder club.
Perhaps one of most unfortunate of any player ever to represent his country. Connor Williams made his debut in the 3rd test of the India South Africa test series in 2001.
The series can at best be described as highly controversial. Mike Denness the match referee handed out suspensions to six Indian players including Sachin Tendulkar for ball tampering. This created massive outrage in India as Denness’ effigies were pelted and burnt. The incident was also discussed in the Indian Parliament. ICC revoked the official status of the now infamous 3rd test as BCCI used it’s influence to oust Denness as the referee.
Willams was unfortunate to make his debut in this match as he garnered a well made 42 in the second innings. He played 124 first class games for Baroda piling up 7,942 runs, but another Indian call-up eluded him, thus forever remaining a footnote in Indian cricket as being the only player ever to play a test for India and having the official records show otherwise.