The Roar
The Roar


The ‘Who was that again?’ Australian Test XI

(AAP Image/Dale Cumming)
Roar Rookie
1st December, 2016

Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Nic Maddinson have made their Test debuts, and Hilton Cartwright looks sure to get a match in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

They have their whole careers ahead of them. The only problem is, their career might not end up being all that long. Let’s take a look at debutants from the recent past that didn’t make the proverbial grade.

1. Wayne Phillips (Victoria)
South Australian keeper-batsman Wayne Phillips appeared in numerous Tests and ODIs for Australia during the early to mid-80s, but a different Wayne Phillips played a solitary Test against India in 1992.

Preferred opener Geoff Marsh fell out of favour with selectors following a bad run of outs against a high, but not terribly mighty, Indian attack. Rather than give him one more chance on his home ground, selectors turned to Victorian opener Phillips. Phillips made 8 and 14 and never played another Test. Geoff Marsh went on to play in the World Cup, but Australia’s lack of success meant he was one of many not selected again.

2. Michael Di Venuto (Tasmania)
Blessed with fast hands and savage strokeplay, Australia saw Di Venuto as their ODI secret weapon. He looked capable against attacks like South Africa and New Zealand but never made a century.

The 1997/98 World Series saw Australia use a truckload of opening combinations, with DiVenuto featuring in some. But once selectors discovered Adam Gilchrist, Di Venuto’s international cricket career was over.

That was until he opened the batting for Italy’s Twenty20 team. His stint as batting coach for Australia in more recent times has been praised by players like Steve Smith.

3. Ryan Campbell (Western Australia)
Of all the players in the WWTA XI, Campbell ranks as one of the unluckiest. An agile keeper and explosive batsman, he possessed all the attributes of a dynamic international cricketer. He would have carved out a lengthy Test career if he wasn’t born in Australia.

But, like so many cricketers in the late 90s/early 2000s, he was born at the wrong time, and in the wrong place. His WA teammate Gilchrist put a mortgage on the attacking keeper-batsman tag as ‘Cambo’ continued to make runs.


He was used only twice in ODI cricket as Gilchrist’s back-up. Then Brad Haddin came along, and Cambo was last seen in the Hong Kong cricket team.

4. Stuart Law (Queensland, c)
Labelled ‘the greatest player to play just one Test’, Stuart Law was seen in Australian gold in ODIs for several seasons.

His highest score was a fluent 110 against Zimbabwe in 1994. However, his Test career is more a case of what could have been.

Replacing the injured Steve Waugh, he made an accomplished 54* before skipper Mark Taylor declared. He never batted in a Test again, which means he has no average. Another Aussie batsman made his debut in that Test – Ricky Ponting played a few more Tests than Law though.

5. Martin Love (Queensland)
If Michael Hussey was unlucky to receive a Test call-up only after scoring a mountainous 13,000 first class runs, spare a thought for Martin Love.

At least Mr Cricket had a sizeable international career. Love featured in only six Tests. He looked the part in his debut, scoring 62 and taking four sharp slips catches in the 2002-03 Ashes series.

However, he struggled against the West Indies, before finishing his career with an unbeaten 100 against Bangladesh. At least he ended on a high. Some players in this list would have begged for an end like that.

6. Mark Cosgrove (South Australia/Tasmania)
The nickname ‘Baby Boof’ could mean two things. Comparisons to South Australia legend and current Australian coach Darren ‘Boof’ Lehmann would have been flattering, if the nickname wasn’t also a thinly veiled dig at Cosgrove’s Lehmann-like gut.


But as it happens, Cosgrove was a fierce strokemaker, who was selected for Australia during their ODI series against Bangladesh in 2006.

While the big guns were being rested, he struck an impressive 74 and was named man of the match. He played a few more ODIs before the door slammed shut for good.

Cosgrove hoped a change of state teams would mean a change of fortunes, but so far international selection remains elusive.

7. Phil Emery (New South Wales, WK)
Shield stalwart Emery played a single ODI and a single Test for Australia, deputising for Ian Healy on both occasions.

Trouble is, Emery also got injured in his sole Test appearance, finishing on 8* in a high scoring draw against Pakistan in 1994.

He later played again for Australia in the 1994-95 World Series, ironically, against a side he would represent quite a bit in the 90s, Australia A.

8. Beau Casson (Western Australia / New South Wales)
After the retirements of Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, and prior to the emergence of Nathan Lyon, Australia were desperate to secure the services another talented spinner.

One of the many shoulders that mantle fell on was Casson. He picked up four wickets in his only Test against the West Indies in 2008, and continued a reasonable Shield career until heart problems forced an early retirement.


9. Matthew Nicholson (Western Australia / New South Wales)
Nicholson showed selectors how good he was in a tour match against England in 1998, snaring seven wickets on pacy Perth pitch.

He was drafted into the Australian XI for the fourth Ashes Test of the 1998-99 season on a placid Melbourne wicket and, like Casson, finished his Test career with a solid, if unspectacular, four wickets.

And despite falling, literally, to a Darren Gough yorker in his first Test innings, he almost nudged Australia home in his second. Alas, England won a thrilling Test by 12 runs.

10. Simon Cook (New South Wales)
The bustling fast-medium pacer showed enough promise at state level to be given a chance in the 1997-98 Test series against New Zealand.

As selectors furiously aimed to piece together an attack missing Glenn McGrath and Paul Reiffel, Cook slotted in comfortably in his first Test, taking seven wickets (including 5-27 in the second innings).

But once the big guns had returned, Cook was no longer needed.

11. Scott Muller (Queensland)
The “can’t bowl, can’t throw” story will forever be associated with Muller, but his dependable record for Queensland is what selectors took greater notice of when he made his debut on his home ground against Pakistan in 1999.

He played two Tests, took seven wickets, and was never selected again. Brett Lee had emerged as a valuable Test quick at the same time, and it left Muller out on the periphery.


12. Take your pick
Andrew Zesers, Glenn Trimble, Peter George, Bryce McGain…