I often mimic Tolstoy’s famous words and say that ‘All lucky cricketers are alike; each unlucky cricketer is unlucky in his own way’.
I have discussed here the stories of three unlucky cricketers. They came from different backgrounds and their cases were entirely different, but while none of them perhaps had the potential to become a great of the game, with better luck they certainly would have achieved greater recognition from the cricketing fraternity.
Andy Ganteaume (WI)
At SCG in Jan 1984; Greg Chappell scored an effortless 182 against a weak Pakistani bowling attack in his final Test innings and in the process he joined the record books.
He was the first man to score a Test hundred in his first and last Test innings. Since then Md. Azharuddin has joined the list; although his career end was more in disgrace than in glory.
But, in a weird way, Chappell’s feat was achieved decades ago by a solid Trinidad opener.
Andrew Ganteume scored a polished but slow 112 against England at the Queen’s Park Oval in what turned out to be his only Test innings.
After restricting England to 362 in the first innings, the home side took control of the match late in the second days thanks to a century stand between the openers George Carew (107) and Ganteume. But unfortunately for Gantueme he failed to accelerate on the third day as his team required quick runs for a declaration.
Despite instruction from the captain to get on with it he slowed down considerably prior to his hundred and at the end his 112 took almost five hours.
He didn’t bat in the second innings; when WI pinned their hopes on the three W’s in a futile attempt to beat the clock in a run chase.
There is no doubt that Ganteaume’s effort was a bit selfish. But, it still seems very harsh that he was never picked in a Test team again.
First of all, he was always an accumulator of runs. He normally built his innings slowly taking his time. So to expect him to suddenly change his game was a bit naïve. Another reason put forward was that the WI batting throughout the 1950’s remained very steady leaving little opportunity for Ganteaume to make a comeback.
There is a group who believes that his problems had more to do with his off field activities than his slow scoring.
It is worth mentioning that at time when Windies cricket authority was mainly in the hands of the whites; Ganteaume was viewed by many as a kind of a rebel; not always willing to abide by the rules and the standards set by the board.
He was a part of the John Goddard’s WI team that was badly beaten in England in the summer of 1957. He struggled in the county matches and never really came in to consideration for a Test place.
So, his Test career started and ended with a batting average of 112.00. Perhaps he was the only batsman who could scoff at Bradman’s ‘ordinary’ average of 99.94.
Andy Lloyd (England)
While Ganteaume’s only Test innings lasted almost five hours, for another opener playing decades later it lasted just half an hour.
In the first Test of the 1984 series at Edgbaston, Andy Lloyd, the left-handed opener from Warwickshire, joined the growing list of England openers to be tried in the Test arena since the banning of Geoffrey Boycott and Graham Gooch couple of years back.
And although Lloyd’s stay at the wicket was very short, it was quite eventful.
With just one run on the board; he saw his opener partner Graeme Fowler depart for a duck; ct. behind of Joel Garner.
Derek Randall, a poor choice as a number 3, soon followed bowled by Garner – also for a duck.
So, skipper David Gower; who had earlier decided to bat after winning the toss joined Lloyd in a bid to rebuild the innings. For the next few overs things moved slowly until the Lloyd incident.
He had just reached the double figures when a fierce short ball from Malcolm Marshall struck him in the side of his head.
The injury was severe despite him wearing a helmet; he spent the whole week at the hospital and didn’t play first class cricket for the rest of the season.
WK batsman Paul Downton opened in the second innings; and Chris Broad made his Test debut in the second test.
Andy Lloyd still finds his name in the record-books as the only Test opener never to be dismissed in a Test match. And just like Stuart Law, he doesn’t have Test batting average.
Anisur Rahman (Bangladesh)
While Andy Lloyd doesn’t have a Test batting average, Anisur Rahman, the left arm seam bowler from Bangladesh, doesn’t have a ODI bowling average.
In his two ODIs (both against India) he bowled eight wicket-less overs conceding 68 runs. His economy rate 8.50 would be considered poor by today’s standards; for the standards of the 1990’s it was pathetic. And the man mainly responsible for his misery was a little man from Mumbai – Sachin Tendulker.
At Sharjah, in 1995 the Indian target was only 164, but for some reason the little master was in a hurry; and he smashed 48 from 30 deliveries (9×4, 1×6) and Anisur being the new ball bowler found himself in the firing line.
The story was almost similar at Mumbai three years later. Chasing just 116 for victory, Sachin scored a quick-fire 33 from 29 deliveries to delight his hometown fans. Poor Anisur again struggled and never played for the Tigers again.
It was a pity because he was a fine swing bowler; and he was the first Bangladeshi seamer to use the art of reverse swing successfully in the international arena. Interestingly he is still involved with international cricket as an umpire.