Baggy green swansongs, Part 2: Going out not with a bang, but a whimper

Baggy green swansongs, Part 2: Going out not with a bang, but a whimper

Part 1 named a side made up of players who enjoyed fairytale endings to their careers.

This article names a team of equally distinguished cricketers who collectively played 401 Tests, but whose last matches were forgettable in one or more ways.

Its specialist batsmen scored a total of six runs in their combined 11 innings, including seven ducks. Its bowlers took 5-755 between them, while the wicketkeeper didn’t make a catch or stumping. Only its first three batsmen enjoyed victory, and seven of them continued playing at first-class level without ever regaining their Test places.

Keith Stackpole 43 Tests, 1966-1974, 2807 runs at 37.42, 15 wickets at 66.73, 47 catches Stackpole was a popular and hard-hitting batsman and useful leg spinner, who enjoyed some of his greatest successes when opening the innings with captain and Victorian teammate Bill Lawry. Against England he was leading run-scorer in 1970-71, and headed the batting averages in 1972.

He played his last game in Auckland aged 33, when Australia defeated New Zealand by 297 runs to draw the series 1-1. With the first ball of the match, Richard Hadlee dismissed him for zero. In Australia’s second innings, he fell to Richard Collinge for another duck while opening partner Ian Redpath carried his bat for 159 not out. In New Zealand’s unsuccessful chase of 456 for victory, he took one catch. Stackpole played no further first-class matches, but in a tour match and two one-day internationals that followed he scored three, 50 and 11.

Stackpole later wrote of that first-innings dismissal to a head-high full-toss: “I only saw it a yard away from my head. I pulled out of the way, but the ball flicked the end of the bat and flew to first slip. Maybe it was the first time in Test cricket that a fellow was out first ball without the ball ever touching the ground!”

Matthew Elliott 21 Tests, 1996-2004, 1172 runs at 33.48, 14 catches Elliott was a tall, angular, large-nosed Victorian opening batsmen who drew inevitable comparisons with Bill Lawry. He was awarded Sheffield Shield Player of the Year three times and the domestic limited-over competition’s Player of the Year once.

Matthew Elliott

After five years out of the side, he regained his place following Ricky Ponting’s withdrawal due to a family bereavement. The team played Sri Lanka in the relative obscurity of Darwin in July, and Elliott batted at number three behind Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden. Australia won a low-scoring match by 149 runs, to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Unfortunately Elliott faced only 11 balls in total for scores of one and zero. Chaminder Vaas dismissed him in each innings.

He was then dropped from the team aged 32, never to return. However he continued playing domestic cricket for South Australia, Yorkshire and Glamorgan and participated in his final top-level match four years later in 2007-08.

Don Bradman 52 Tests, 1928-1948, 6996 runs at 99.94, two wickets at 36.00, 32 catches Bradman is cricket’s greatest batsman and arguably also the finest athlete of all time. In his final match a fortnight before his 40th birthday, he was responsible for what is undoubtedly the sport’s greatest anti-climax. It occurred at the Oval where the Invincibles sealed a 4-0 series margin with victory by an innings and 149 runs.

Given that Australia had already dismissed the home team for only 52 and Australia’s opening partnership had been 117, it was likely that Bradman would bat only once in the game. However after defending the first ball that he faced from leg spinner Eric Hollies, he was bowled by his subsequent delivery.

It left his average a mere 99.94, the most famous statistic in cricket. While not appreciated at the time, a score of exactly four would have yielded him a final career average of exactly 100.00. His overall batting average had been 102.98 at the commencement of the series, and 101.39 at the start of the match.

Australia's Don Bradman (r) batting

The tour concluded with five further matches, as was traditional at the time. Bradman’s last four innings in England were 65 against Kent, 150 against Gentlemen of England, 143 against the South of England and 153 against HDG Leveson-Gower’s XI. Back in Australia in 1948-49, he played three first-class matches scoring 123 and ten for DG Bradman’s XI, 53 for AR Morris’ XI, and 30 and did not bat (absent hurt) for South Australia in his very last game.

Kim Hughes 70 Tests, 1977-1984, 4415 runs at 37.41 Hughes was a dashing middle-order batsman who also captained his country 28 times, mostly overseas and for only four victories. He played a number of outstanding innings including 117 and 84 at Lord’s in 1980, 213 against India in Adelaide in 1980-81, and 100 not out against the West Indies at the MCG in 1981-82.

When Australia hosted the West Indies in 1984-85, Hughes led the team to heavy losses in Perth and Brisbane. He then tearfully resigned at a post-match media conference during which he was unable to finish reading out his prepared statement. Under Allan Border’s captaincy in Adelaide, the team suffered yet another heavy defeat, in which Hughes’ scores were a first-ball duck and two.

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In the series’ fourth match, Australia achieved a hard-fought draw at the MCG. However Hughes faced only three deliveries in scoring a pair. At that point he had scored a total of five runs from his last six innings. He was dropped from the Test team aged only 30, played a handful of one-day international matches without success, and subsequently wasn’t selected for Australia’s 1985 tour to England.

Hughes then accepted the captaincy of rebel tours to South Africa in 1985-86 and 1986-87, and regained selection in the Western Australia team during 1987-88 and 1988-89. He finished his career in South Africa, with little success for Natal during 1989-90 and 1990-91.

Graham Yallop 39 Tests, 1976-1984, 2756 runs at 41.13, one wicket at 116.00, 23 catches Yallop was a Victorian left-handed top-order batsman whose individual highlight was a double-century against Pakistan at his home ground the MCG. During World Series Cricket’s second season he captained a weak Australian team that surrendered the Ashes at home by a 5-1 margin.

Graham Yallop

He played his last match at the WACA aged 32, a game that the West Indies won by an innings and 112 runs. It was the first match of the series. Australia scored only 76 in their first innings, and then 228 after following on. Yallop’s contributions were two and one. He commenced his two innings with Australia struggling at 4-40 and 4-107, and was no match for a bowling attack comprising Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Courtney Walsh.

By the end of the summer four of the side’s top seven had been dropped from the side. Yallop struggled with a knee injury during the season, and did not gain selection for the 1985 tour to England. However in Victoria’s final Sheffield Shield match, he did score 147 against New South Wales at the SCG.

Subsequently six members of that Perth team including Yallop signed for a rebel tour to South Africa in 1985-86. Following a second tour in 1986-87 he never played top-level cricket again. However he did continue to play club cricket, for South Melbourne and then Ringwood.

Adam Voges 20 Tests, 2015-2016, 1485 runs at 61.87, 15 catches Voges was a Western Australian middle-order batsman who made his first-class debut aged 23, but had to wait until after his 35th birthday to be awarded a Test cap. He was immediately successful with a century on debut. After 14 matches he boasted two double-centuries, a further three centuries and an average of 97.46. However he played only a further six games, and his entire Test career spanned less than 18 months.

His final match took place in Hobart against South Africa, who won the game by an innings and 80 runs to take a 2-0 series lead. In Australia’s first innings he was dismissed for a first-ball duck, caught behind from the bowling of Vernon Philander. In their second innings he made two runs from 17 deliveries before losing his wicket to Kyle Abbott. The match was also notable for the debuts of Callum Ferguson and Joe Mennie, and none of the trio ever represented their country again.

WA Sheffield Shield

Voges captained Middlesex the following winter, and the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League the following summer, before retiring as a player.

Ben Barnett Four Tests, 1938, 195 runs at 27.85, three catches, two stumpings Barnett was a Victorian wicketkeeper whose entire Test career took place during the 1938 tour to England. He gained selection aged 30 ahead of both Bert Oldfield, who by then was aged 44, and a number of other contenders including a young Don Tallon.

He played his final Test at the Oval. By then Australia had retained the Ashes, but with the margin 1-0 and the series still alive the match became a timeless one. England scored a record 7(dec)-903, and Australia made their replies of 201 and 123 with only nine batsmen, following injuries to Don Bradman and Jack Fingleton.

Barnett contributed two and 46 batting at number six, easily top-scoring in the second innings. Unfortunately he recorded no catches or stumpings during almost three days in the field, despite one clear chance that perhaps Wisden Cricket Monthly summed up best.

“It is one of the cricketing ironies that a man who made so positive a contribution to the game, as sound wicketkeeper, neat left-hand bat, captain and administrator, should have error rather than achievement chronicled in cricket lore. Ben missed stumping Len Hutton when the England opener was on 40, off a sharply-turning Fleetwood-Smith [delivery], in the Oval Test of 1938. It was an easy chance, Hutton was stranded well down the pitch, Barnett failed to gather the ball – and Hutton went on to make his enormous Test record of 364. But Barnett accepted failure just as he accepted success, with a most likeable modesty, even diffidence, far removed from the typical and accepted picture of the ruthless, aggressive, hard-bitten Australian Test player.”

With the commencement of WWII he never represented Australia again. After moving to England in 1949, he played Minor Counties cricket until 1964 whenever business commitments allowed, and captained a Commonwealth team to India in 1953-54.

Graham McKenzie 60 Tests, 1961-1971, 945 runs at 12.27, 246 wickets at 29.78, 34 catches McKenzie was a great fast bowler who debuted aged 19 at Lord’s with 5-37. He led Australia’s attack manfully during a decade when the team lost a series only twice.

He played his last Test at the SCG at only 29 years of age. England won the match by 299 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the series with three games still remaining. McKenzie’s own bowling figures were 0-74 and 1-65. With the bat he scored 11 not out in Australia’s first innings, and in their second retired hurt on six after being struck in the face by a bouncer from John Snow. After recovering from the injury, he failed to regain his place in the team.

Baggy green

McKenzie then enjoyed a successful 1971-72 season for Western Australia, and for Australia in their series against a Rest of the World XI. However he failed to gain selection for the 1972 tour to England. He instead continued playing County cricket for Leicestershire, during a period when they won four one-day titles and finally in 1975 their first ever Championship. McKenzie later came out of retirement to join World Series Cricket, and in 1979-80 played his final match at the age of 38 for Transvaal.

Rodney Hogg 38 Tests, 1978-1984, 439 runs at 9.75, 123 wickets at 28.47, seven catches Hogg was an aggressive fast bowler who enjoyed a brief but successful career in Australian teams that were generally outplayed, winning only nine of the matches in which he participated. In his debut series he took 41 wickets at 12.85 against England, but Australia still lost it by a 5-1 margin.

He played his last first-class match aged 33 in the Test against the West Indies at the MCG, after the visitors had won the series’ first three games. Australia secured a dogged draw, ending the match at 8-198 after being set a target of 370. A modest batsman, he contributed 19 first-innings runs to a valuable last-wicket partnership of 43, and was not required to bat on the final day.

With the ball, he took 2-96 and 0-40 against a powerful batting line-up led by Viv Richards’ 208 from only 245 deliveries. In the West Indies’ first innings he was wicketless until he dismissed Malcolm Marshall with the score at 6-362, and shortly afterwards he caught-and-bowled Roger Harper.

He missed the following Test, due to injury. Two months later he played his final one-day international match, scoring 22 and bowling six unsuccessful overs in a loss to India. Yallop and Kim Hughes ended their Test careers in the same series as Hogg, and all three of them then participated in the subsequent 1985-86 and 1986-87 rebel tours to South Africa. Gideon Haigh’s pen portrait of him for Cricinfo states that: “Later, he fulfilled a long-held ambition to open a green grocery.”

Stuart MacGill 44 Tests, 1998-2008, 349 runs at 9.69, 208 wickets at 29.02, 16 catches MacGill was a match-winning leg spinner with an outstanding strike rate, who was unlucky to play in the shadow of Shane Warne. Of the 118 Tests that Australia contested during his career, he participated in only 44. In those matches that they played together, MacGill took more wickets at a lower average. Unfortunately he also suffered a number of knee and wrist injuries at inopportune times, in addition to boycotting a tour to Zimbabwe on moral grounds.

Stuart MacGill

His final match took place in North Sound in the West Indies at age 37, and it was drawn. Australia set the home side a last-day victory target of 372, and they played out time to end the game on 5-266. In the West Indies’ first innings, MacGill returned figures of 1-107 in 21 overs including one wide and eight no-balls. On the final day his figures were 0-75 from 19 overs, with six no-balls. He did not bat in either of Australia’s innings, and did not take a catch during the match.

Following the game, even though it was only the second of the series, he announced his immediate retirement. While it would prove to be his last first-class match, he later made a limited but successful comeback in Twenty20 cricket with the Sydney Sixers in 2011-12, which culminated in a Big Bash League title.

Leslie O’Brien “Chuck” Fleetwood-Smith Ten Tests, 1935-1938, 54 runs at 9.00, 42 wickets at 37.38, nil catches Fleetwood-Smith was an often unplayable left-arm wrist spinner, who contributed significantly to a number of Ashes victories in 1936-37 and 1938. For Victoria he twice took nine innings in an innings, among 246 wickets in only 40 matches. He claimed to be a natural right-armer who had changed his bowling action after breaking that arm when a schoolboy.

At age 30 he took part in what would prove to be his final match, a timeless Test at the Oval. England batted for 335.2 overs and almost three days to score 7(dec)-903, declaring shortly after Bradman was carried from the field injured. Len Hutton scored 364, while Arthur Wood replaced him at the crease with the score 6-770 and the comment: “Aye, I’m just man for crisis”. Four times in one day, a wicket fell to a no-ball. When Hutton’s score was 153, he was caught from a no-ball by Bill O’Reilly.

Fleetwood-Smith bowled 87 overs to take 1-298, still the most runs ever conceded in a single innings. He induced a stumping chance when Hutton’s score was 40, which unfortunately Barnett missed. Australia lost the match by an innings and 579 runs. Fleetwood-Smith’s own batting contributions were 16 not out and zero.

While he played first-class cricket for another two seasons, and club cricket in 1945-46, WWII deprived him of any opportunity to redeem himself at Test level.