The history of cricket is full of great players, great teams, great matches, great series and great seasons and those stories have been told countless times. But what about the tales of players who did not scale the heights of the legends of the game, players who scaled their own personal Everest by being picked for Test cricket, only to never be selected again? That is the subject of One Test Wonders, a cricketing podcast that features episodes with players who played just one Test.
In this episode we speak with Ireland wicketkeeper-batsman Niall O’Brien - and it's an episode with a difference. All the other players we’ve spoken with were hopeful of long Test careers when they made their debuts but Niall is a bit different.
A left-hander who played county cricket with Kent, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire for well over a decade, Niall first played for Ireland at under-17 level in 1999 and at that stage the idea of Test cricket for the country was not even a distant dream.
However, a succession of impressive performances in ICC limited-over events and in the ICC Intercontinental Cup, the global first-class competition for international sides below Test status, pressed Ireland’s case, and in 2018 they finally got the chance to play a match in the longest form of the game, against Pakistan at Malahide.
Niall’s professional career was very much in its final throes by then, but the prospect of playing in that match helped drive him on and he finally got his reward, becoming a member of the first playing eleven to take the field for his country in Test cricket.
Niall not only talks extensively about the match in question in this podcast, a match that featured a brilliant hundred by his brother Kevin, but he puts it into the context of his career and Ireland’s journey from nowhere to the very top table of the sport.
This episode sees us speaking with opening batsman Andy Lloyd.
Andy had an excellent first-class career, latterly as Warwickshire captain, and scored more than 17,000 first-class runs, but perhaps he's best known for his one Test appearance, against the mighty West Indies side of 1984, and how it ended prematurely for him because of a horrendous incident after just half an hour's play.
The story of that incident takes up a great deal of this podcast, as you'd expect, but over the course of the episode Andy also puts his Test call-up into context and discusses how he rebuilt his career at first-class level, all the while knowing he could never play for England again. It's a tale that is, at stages, sad, poignant and redemptive - and it's always fascinating!
In this episode we catch up with former Essex and Hampshire all-rounder John Stephenson.
John’s career included over 22,000 runs and more than 600 wickets in professional cricket and he captained Hampshire for two seasons in 1996 and 1997. But here we’re concerned with his Test appearance, which came against the mighty Australia side of 1989, the one under Allan Border’s leadership that steamrolled England that summer.
John, who was opening the batting with some success for Essex alongside Graham Gooch at the time, was called up for the final Test of the six-match series at The Oval with England already 4-0 down in the series and his story reveals just a little of the chaos in the national set-up in the face of that mauling.
Let’s take up the story…
This time we hear from former Gloucestershire, Surrey and Sussex seam bowler Jon Lewis, a player who took more than 1300 wickets in his professional career and someone who enjoyed enormous success in county cricket in limited-overs cricket.
Jon’s solitary Test match came against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge in 2006, and it was the culmination of being in and around the England squad for 18 months, time that included matches in both the ODI and T20I formats.
His selection was the end of a frustrating period of near misses when it came to getting his hands on a Test cap, but as with everyone else in this series, it turned out to be an end of another sort too, rather than a beginning.
Let’s get started and hear Jon’s story…
In this episode we speak with fast bowler Tony Pigott.
Tony had a first-class career that spanned three decades, collecting 672 first-class wickets for Sussex, Surrey and New Zealand side Wellington along the way, and he made his Test appearance as a late call-up in what became a notorious innings loss in New Zealand, at Christchurch in February 1984.
The story of that call-up, involving as it did the need to rearrange his wedding, his own fitness worries around that time and the match itself make up one of the most remarkable tales in the history of English cricket.
Let’s let Tony take up that story…
In this episode we chat with opening batsman Alan Butcher.
Alan had a decorated first-class career, with more than 22,000 runs for Surrey and Glamorgan, before going on to a successful coaching career, including with Zimbabwe. He’s also the father of former England batsman Mark and Gary, who, like his dad, played for both Glamorgan and Surrey.
Alan’s opportunity to play for England in Test cricket came at his-then home ground, The Oval, in the final match of four-game series against India in 1979. England were 1-0 up and made changes, looking at new players ahead of a winter tour of Australia and India.
He experienced a week full of remarkable experiences and one which turned out to be an absolute rollercoaster of excitement and disappointment, as he tells us here...
A wonderful, warm podcast for all cricket lovers
This is a wonderful podcast, exploring those cricketers who had one chance at doing what every cricket fan dreams of: playing for their country. Brian gently explores the stories behind the one appearances, with some truly extraordinary individuals. I cannot recommend it enough.
This is a truly supern run of podcast episodes on a fascinating topic - Brian does an incredible job in helping the guests to tell their stoires which are equal parts inspring and unfortaunte in some cases.
Each episode is presented an such a way that you feel as though you are dropping in on a conversation between Brian & his guest, such is his relaxed and personable interview style. And to hear some of the more untold facets of getting that England call-up is a real treat.
Not only are these essential lsitening for all Cricket fans, but a great listen for any sport fan as they tell the story of following your dreams. Couldn't recommened them more!!!
This is a fascinating insight into Test cricket, the characters and psychology, the culture of the various times. But most of all it’s about the personal experiences of talented professionals and Brian Murgatroyd leads this so well. The stories, anecdotes, humour and resilience in the face of huge challenges all come through. Looking forward to the next series - maybe the occasional overseas player could be included.
Absorbing stuff! Well done!