Among all the formats that exist in cricket, the red-ball one has to be the toughest and rewarding from every player’s perspective. One can perform exceptionally well in the limited-overs formats but when it comes to Test cricket, the fortunes are bound to change as there is a drastic shift in every little aspect of the game.
Negotiating a moving red Kookaburra ball is the batsman’s biggest challenge in Test cricket and the one who doesn’t have a sound technique and good temperament is bound to struggle and get out on consistent low scores. Once that happens, the coaches and even the former cricketers shall extend their advice and suggest one or the other technical tweaks get back in rhythm and score hefty runs for the side.
While the words of wisdom might work for some, for others it might just complicate the things further and make it difficult for the player to be back at his best. This aspect has seen the downfall of several known players in world cricket, who made it big in the white-ball formats but unfortunately couldn’t go the distance in Test cricket. In the below piece, we look at 5 such cricketers who went off the boil in Test cricket:
1. Murali Vijay
Vijay was drafted into the Indian Test side after his eye-catching performances for CSK at the IPL and for Tamil Nadu at the Ranji Trophy. His ability to leave the ball outside off-stump and play it on it’s merit made him an instant hit at the Test arena and helped him cement his place in the line-up.
He was one of those few openers, who maintained the same consistency playing at home and overseas and the aspect could be attributed to the waiting game that he played and compelled the opposition to make mistakes.
Vijay never missed out on any scoring opportunity and at times resorted to the aerial mode of attacking in order to garner sixes against the spinners. Unfortunately, he endured a tough time during the England series and tour down under in 2018 which led to his exclusion from the line-up to never feature again in the squad.
The opener has struck 3982 runs from 61 Tests at an average of 38.29 and has 12 centuries to his name.
2. Aaron Finch
The captain of Australia’s limited-overs side, Finch got his requisite go in the Test arena after the unfortunate ban enforced on Warner, Smith and Bancroft for being involved in the sandpaper-gate scandal.
He made his debut against Pakistan at Dubai scoring a fine 62 in the first innings and later backed it up with 49 in the second. Bestowed with a wonderful opportunity to pile up runs in home conditions, Finch failed miserably in the series against India, getting out to nip-backers owing to his poor foot movement.
The string of low scores saw his exclusion from the final Test held at Sydney and since then Finch hasn’t been in the reckoning for a spot in the illustrious Test squad. The aggressive opener smashed 278 runs from 5 Tests at an average of 27.8 and with 2 fifties to his name.
3. Jason Roy
One of the fierce strikers of the cricket ball going around, Roy received his elusive Test cap against Ireland in 2019 and was then chosen as the preferred opener in the important Ashes series that followed.
Unfortunately, he brought the same limited-overs approach to red-ball cricket and thus, couldn’t make it big against the likes of fearsome Australian trio of Hazlewood, Cummins and Starc. The recurrent failure brought curtains on his unforeseen Test career after the precious series and the selectors decided to try the young and dynamic duo of Burns and Sibley as openers.
In the limited opportunities presented so far, the pair has done fairly well and haven’t given their wickets away. They have truly justified the faith of the selectors, and now it looks unlikely that Roy may ever get an opportunity to don the elusive whites for England.
The ferocious hitter has plundered 187 runs from 5 Tests at an average of 18.7 and a best score of 72.
4. Dane Vilas
This tall wicketkeeper-batsman from South Africa made his Test debut against India in 2015 as the first-choice keeper. He was neat behind the stumps grabbing every opportunity that came his way as one would expect. But his batting was a big let down in the series as he struggled to pick the successful Indian spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja.
Lack of any vital contribution lower down the order compelled selectors to think a bit differently and thus, a rising talent in the South African ranks, de Kock got his deserving opportunity.
His rapid growth, both as a batsman and a keeper almost closed the doors on Vilas, who decided to sign the opulent Kolpak deal in utter dismay and frustration. Currently, he is part of the English domestic circuit, playing County cricket for Lancashire.
Vilas has scored a paltry 94 runs from 6 Tests at an average of 10.44.
5. Martin Guptill
One of the mainstays at the top of the order playing limited-overs cricket for New Zealand, Guptill made his dream Test debut against India in 2009.
Being naturally aggressive, Guptill’s enviable approach provided the team with flying starts even at the Test arena. He, unfortunately, couldn’t get any substantial scores given the risk that came with the approach, but the overall result was fruitful from the team’s perspective.
The lowest point in his Test career came in the series against India in 2016 where the flamboyant opener got plenty of attacking starts but wasn’t able to convert any of them into big scores. The result of which saw New Zealand suffer a rare whitewash against India, going down 3-0 in the series.
Guptill was dropped from the Test squad after the drubbing and with players like Latham, Blundell and Raval coming to the fore, the chances of him making a comeback are very bleak. The belligerent right-hander has blasted 2586 runs from 47 Tests at an average of 29.39 and a best score of 189.