Mukesh Kumar. (Photo Source: Twitter)
One person’s loss is another’s gain and this popular fact applies to cricket as well. In this beautiful sport, a few incidents have taken place in the past when some players got ruled out of their teams due to injuries, and in their absence, some new names broke into sides and introduced themselves.
In 1996, when India toured England, Rahul Dravid got inducted into the team for the second Test at the iconic Lord’s, following Sanjay Manjrekar’s failure to clear the fitness test. Manjrekar’s injury proved a boon for Dravid as he grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring 95 in the first innings of the match. Like this incident, there are a few more events to remember when some players’ injuries turned out to be huge chances for new faces to break into their national teams.
Here are the five instances when injuries to some cricketers emerged as golden opportunities for other players
5. Michael Hussey’s Test debut against the West Indies in 2005, replacing Justin Langer
Michael Hussey is remembered as one of the greatest players in international cricket, who served Australia in all three forms of cricket efficiently. In Test cricket, he played 79 matches for the Aussies and scored 6235 runs with 19 tons and 29 fifties in 137 innings. In November 2005, he received his debut Test cap during the West Indies tour of Australia.
Australia’s regular opener Justin Langer got ruled out of the opening Test in Brisbane due to a broken rib, and replacing the veteran, Michael Hussey got a chance to play his debut match as an opener. Hussey failed to make it big in his debut game, scoring only 1 and 29 but in the second Test of the series in Hobart, he notched up his maiden Test century and helped Australia vanquish the visitors by nine wickets.
In the third Test, Langer returned to the squad and Hussey was shifted to the middle order at number five. Hussey looked stunning in the new position and scored his second century of the competition to help his team whitewash the Windies team. In Australia’s marvellous success, Hussey came out as the second-leading run-getter with 361 runs in six innings of three Tests.
4. Andrew Strauss Test debut in 2004, replacing Michael Vaughan
Prior to Andrew Strauss’s Test debut, Michael Vaughan was serving England as an opener along with Marcus Trescothick while the England team management was finding an ideal opening partner for the latter.
In May 2004, England hosted New Zealand for three Tests and Vaughan, who was also the skipper of England, caught a knee injury during the practice session and got excluded from the playing XI for the first game. In Vaughan’s absence, Trescothick got the captaincy mantle while Andrew Strauss made his Test debut as an opener.
Playing his debut game, Strauss put up an impressive show with his bat, scoring a scintillating ton in the first innings of the match. Riding on his match-winning 112-run knock in the first innings, England thrashed the Kiwis comfortably with seven wickets in hand. The southpaw also received the Player of the Match award for his excellent century on Test debut.
3. Srikar Bharat for Rishabh Pant in 2023
In December 2022, India’s wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pat met a horrific accident on the Delhi-Dehradun highway. This tragedy ruled Pant out of international cricket for a long time and now, his supporters are eagerly waiting for his comeback. Pant’s absence from the national side gave a chance to Andhra Pradesh wicketkeeper batter KS Bharat.
For the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2022-23, India believed in Bharat to fill the shoes of Pant but the 29-year-old failed to live up to the expectations, scoring only 101 runs in six innings of four Tests. Following Bharat’s miserable batting performance in the distinguished Test competition, Pant was highly missed by Indian cricket team fans.
However, ignoring Bharat’s non-performance against the Aussies in the home series, the Indian team management went ahead with the Visakhapatnam-born cricketer at the World Test Championship (WTC) final at the Oval, London. This time, again Bharat failed to prove himself scoring only 5 and 23 in the match. So far, Bharat has scored only 129 runs in eight innings of five outings.
2. Mukesh Kumar for Shardul Thakur in 2023
In July 2023, India visited the West Indies and they started their campaign incredibly with an innings and 141-run victory in the inaugural Test in Dominica. Following the convincing win in the first match, India were looking to go ahead with the same team in the next game at Queen’s Park, Oval.
However, ahead of the game, Shardul Thakur got injured and Mukesh Kumar replaced the all-rounder to reinforce the Indian team’s pace attack. Mukesh’s first-class performance for Bengal paved the way for him in India’s 16-member Test squad. In the domestic circuit, the pacer has clinched 152 wickets in 40 FC games.
These impressive numbers helped Mukesh to get his international Test debut after eight years of diligence in the domestic arena. Playing the debut game, the 29-year-old got Kirk McKenzie caught at the hands of wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan and scalped his first wicket in the longest form of the sport and his international career as well.
1. Scott Boland for Jhye Richardson in the Ashes 2021
Scott Boland is one of the most experienced players in Australia’s domestic cricket as the veteran is serving Victoria since 2011. Despite his vast experience, he had to wait for his international Test debut for more than 10 years. During the Ashes 2021, Boland debuted for Australia in the third Test in Melbourne, replacing unfit Jhye Richardson.
Richardson’s omission from the playing XI due to a minor leg injury after the Western Australia-born player had taken a fifer in Australia’s 275-run triumph over the arch-rivals in the second contest didn’t sound well. However, for Boland, it was an amazing opportunity to showcase his bowling talent in the famedTest competition.
The Melbourne Test went to the hosts by an innings and 14 runs and Boland became the recipient of the Player of the Match award for bagging seven wickets in the match. In the second innings, he picked up a six-wicket haul in his four-over spell. The Victoria-born pacer made the game a dream debut for himself.