What is it that makes a One-Hit Wonder? In the music industry it means quite literally, just that. A band or pop star comes out of nowhere and makes one absolute hit, and then disappears from existence. I don’t know, maybe think Vanilla Ice?? But in cricket, it’s slightly different. I think that a One-Hit Wonder in cricket terms is a player that is known for one absolutely standout performance.
They may well have had a career before and after, but everything pales into insignificance to their one big moment in the sun. Maybe it is cruel to highlight a few such players. Perhaps they are sick of hearing about THAT moment, but if the moment is particularly standout, then it’s worth remembering and worth discussing, even if the player never got close to that moment ever again.
The idea for this article was born out of a recent trip to the MCG. I was there watching a recent South Africa defeat of Australia in the first ODI of the recent Commonwealth Bank Series. In the midst of a jovial cricket discussion I found myself remembering back to fond memories I have had at the ground.
Perhaps one of the finest came in the 1998/1999 Ashes series when I saw a young tearaway named Dean Headley completely destroy a then-dominant Australian batting card.
Now, Dean Headley was a fairly successful bowler in his short time in the England squad. He played his first test against Australia in Manchester in 1997, but by the Manchester test against New Zealand in 1999, his test career was over. Headley took 60 wickets in 15 tests at 27.85, a damn fine start to any career, but injury, and a laughable English selection policy at the time, meant that Headley would really only be remembered for one standout performance.
The 4th Ashes test at the MCG saw Alec Stewart and Steve Waugh both make first innings centuries for their respective sides as Australia led by 70 runs after their first innings. England then managed only 244, with Graeme Hick top scoring with 60. This left the Aussies, then with the likes of Michael Slater, the Waugh twins, Mark Taylor and Justin Langer, to score 175 to win. It was at this stage that I was witness to one of the most outstanding bowling efforts I have seen.
17 Overs 5 Maidens 6wkts for 60runs
It was astonishing from a man in his second season of cricket. Dismissing the likes of Slater, Waugh and Lehmann, as well as skittling the bowlers, Headley was unplayable. England won the game by 12 runs, got beaten in the series, but Headley’s performance was something to remember from an otherwise disappointing English touring squad.
Perhaps an even better example of a One-Hit Wonder is Australia’s Anthony Stuart. Stuart played a meagre 3 ODI’s for Australia, but astonishingly this included a hat-trick against Pakistan at the MCG in 1996-7. The hat-trick included Pakistani legends Ijaz Ahmed and Moin Kahn, as well as Mohammad Wasim.
Stuart ended up with the figures:
10 Overs 1 Maiden 5wkts for 26runs
What makes this the perfect One-Hit Wonder moment is the fact that Stuart never again played for Australia, and in fact was dropped from his state side within 12 months.
Our final example today is a man who will always be burdened by his extraordinary start to test cricket. New Zealand’s Mathew Sinclair scored two double-century’s in his first 12 test matches. The first, on his debut, against the West Indies in 1999, who still had Courtney Walsh in their side. The second was against Pakistan the following summer. Sinclair has gone on to play 32 tests over 10 years, a true sign that he has not been able to secure a spot in the side. I guess Sinclair is really a Two-Hit Wonder, but he is perhaps the best example of a player who was burdened by his outstanding early performances.
One last cheeky one is for our England readers…Phil Tuffnell’s best ever delivery
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