Here’s an odd team to ponder while you’re having your morning coffee.
A team of Australian Test players whose position in the Test batting order, on at least one occasion, matches the total number of Tests that they played for Australia. I told you it was odd.
1. Wayne Phillips
Phillips was a short, gritty Victorian right hander who was selected to opening the batting in the fifth Test against India in 1992 following the poor form of Geoff Marsh in the preceding two Tests. He scored a total of 22 runs in his only Test.
2. Robbie Kerr
The Queensland right hander played the second and third Tests against NZ in 1985 but failed to impress, averaging just 7.75 in his four innings, and he subsequently lost his place to in the side Geoff Marsh.
3. Trevor Chappell
After failing to impress with the bat in the middle order in the first two Tests of the 1981 Ashes tour of England, Chappell swapped places in the batting order with the struggling Graham Yallop and came in at number three, where he scored just 27 and eight before permanently losing his place in the team to Martin Kent.
4. Bill Watson
The 24-year-old found himself opening the batting for Australia alongside Colin McDonald, after just four first-class games for NSW, against the likes of Frank Tyson and Brian Statham in the fifth Test against the visiting Englishmen in February 1955. He did enough to earn his place on the following tour to the West Indies where he played three Tests coming in at number four, finishing with a top score of 30 before losing his place in the team.
5. Graeme Watson
Watson was a very handy all-rounder who was plucked from the Victorian Sheffield Shield team to join the tour to South Africa at the end of 1966. He made his Test debut in the second Test at Cape Town where he batted at eight and bowled first change, and went on to play three Tests in the series without reproducing his first-class form.
He came back from a serious injury to take his next Test opportunity on the 1972 tour of England when he batted at number five in both innings of the first Test for a total of two runs. His last Test match came later in that series when he opened the batting with Keith Stackpole.
6. Brad Hodge
How Victorian batting star Brad Hodge ever only played six Tests is a mystery known only to the Australian selectors. He scored 17,000 first-class runs and had a Test batting average of just under 56. More accustomed to batting at either four or five, his only innings at number six for Australia came in the second innings of the first Test against the West Indies in Jamaica when he came in after night watchman Mitchell Johnson.
7. Len Maddocks (wicketkeeper)
Maddocks was a very good keeper and quite a handy right-handed bat whose Test appearances were limited due to the presence of contemporaries in Wally Grout, Don Tallon and Gil Langley. He scored a watchful 47 batting at number eight to top score for Australia in the first innings of his Test debut against the visiting Englishmen in December 1954 and picked up the first three of his 20 Test dismissals. He batted in seven different positions in his 12 Test innings including opening the batting with Arthur Morris on one occasion, and batted at seven twice.
8. Johnny Martin
Martin was a popular left-arm leg spinner and big-hitting batsman from northern NSW who was in and out of the Australian team in the mid ’60s. He batted anywhere from six down and could really hit the ball a long way. He never really reached the heights as a Test match bowler but did once manage to take the wickets of Rohan Kanhai, Garfield Sobers and Frank Worrell in the space of just four balls.
9. Dave Gilbert
Gilbert was a more than handy Sheffield Shield bowler who unexpectedly got his Test opportunity due the unavailability of bowlers Rodney Hogg, Carl Rackemann, John Maguire, Rod McCurdy and Terry Alderman, who all joined the 1985-86 rebel tour to South Africa. Gilbert’s right-arm seamers weren’t as effective at Test level, unfortunately, and he finished with just 16 wickets at 52.68 from his nine tests. He was a fairly ordinary batsman and the highest he ever batted at Test level was at nine in the third Test against India in January 1986 where he scored just one run.
10. Wayne Clark
Doubts about his bowling action didn’t stop Clark being selected in Bob Simpson’s WSC-depleted side to face the visiting Indian team in 1977, and he made every post a winner, taking eight wickets in the match. He squeezed ten Test matches into his brief 18-month career and finished with 44 wickets at just under 29, and took four wickets in an innings on seven occasions. He batted as high as nine in his Test career, without causing too much work for the scorers, and only scored a total of four runs in his six innings at number ten.
11. Bob Holland
As batsmen go, Bob Holland was a very good leg spinner, although he did make his highest Test score of ten when batting at three in the third Test against England in 1985 at the age of 39 when sent in as night watchman. He was a late bloomer, making his NSW debut at the age of 32 and his Test debut six years later at 38 years of age. He had sporadic success during his brief career, the highlight being taking ten wickets in a Test on two occasions.
In my next article, we’ll come up with some opposition to the Australian team drawn from some of the other Test-playing nations, using the same election criteria.