Andy Bichel runs holding a stump after Australia's victory

PE, period: Andy Bichel immortalised himself at St George's Park with a seven-for and a 36-ball 34 against England in the 2003 World Cup

© Getty Images

High Fives

They came, they conquered, they vanished

Five fleeting triers in great sides

Andrew Miller  |  

Andy Bichel
Blond and perpetually grinning, as if amused for the opportunity in an era of rare riches, Bichel was the archetypal understudy - a distant third seamer behind Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie in the early years, before being usurped by the even blonder Brett Lee.

Bichel carried drinks in as many Tests as he played (19) - it generally required a hamstring twinge here or the omission of a spinner there to tip the balance in his favour.

He bowled with the muscular optimism of a born trier - charging in, battering the deck with understated skill, and extracting just enough movement from a nuisance length.

He won 13 of his 19 Tests - no great surprise in a team powered by a cabal of greats. But no analysis of Bichel's value can be complete without Port Elizabeth, and his grandstanding role in one of the great statement victories of the era. Ahead of their group-stage clash at the 2003 World Cup, England had not beaten Australia in 14 completed ODIs. Bichel took it upon himself to beat them twice more.

With the ball he routed them with figures of 7 for 20. Then, when Andrew Caddick reduced Australia to 135 for 8 (chasing 206), he joined Michael Bevan and took command of the tempo of the chase, all but sealing it in the penultimate over with a crushing swing across the line.

Within 12 months Bichel's international days were over. As Steve Waugh noted in his autobiography, Bichel's good-humoured acceptance of his second-tier status was vital in cultivating the mateship that helped keep Australia on top. He and fellow seamer Michael Kasprowicz, Waugh wrote, "would take a demotion in the right spirit… They never did whinge or drop their bundle."

In the Aussie vernacular, accolades rarely come higher.

From the shires to the G: Tim Bresnan bowls Ricky Ponting for 20 in Melbourne, 2010-11

From the shires to the G: Tim Bresnan bowls Ricky Ponting for 20 in Melbourne, 2010-11 © Getty Images

Tim Bresnan
Two performances, a decade apart, offer an alpha-and-omega appraisal of Bresnan - a player whose dour utterances and undemonstrative demeanour mean that being underestimated is part and parcel of his game.

The first came at Headingley in July 2006, at the end of a maiden ODI series against Sri Lanka that suggested he was horribly out of his depth: his final contribution was two overs for 29, as England were whitewashed. The second came at Lord's in September, in Yorkshire's must-win County Championship decider against Middlesex. Nearly three years since the last of Bresnan's 23 Tests and yet here he was bossing a first-class contest… with his second string, no less.

Always perfectly capable of holding up an end, Bresnan's sublime batting (142 not out and 55) offered overdue proof of his incredible talent. After all, for years he'd been bowling to such exalted standards as well, but no one seemed to have noticed.

And yet, in his pomp, from the spring of 2010 to the summer of 2012, Bresnan played critical roles in England's World T20 triumph, their first Ashes victory in Australia for 24 years, and their rise in Tests to No. 1.

The best came at the zenith of the Andy Flower-Andrew Strauss era. In Melbourne in December 2010, he was subbed into the starting line-up at the expense of Steven Finn, and thumped down heavy ball after heavy ball - you could almost see the pitch rising up to meet its vast gravitational pull - to prise out six wickets; two in the first innings as Australia crumbled to 98 on Boxing Day, and three in the space of four overs on the penultimate evening, when Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey all succumbed to a spell of Flintoff-esque reverse swing.

Stuart Clark nailed Jacques Kallis four times in the 2005-06 series in South Africa

Stuart Clark nailed Jacques Kallis four times in the 2005-06 series in South Africa © Getty Images

Stuart Clark
It should not have been possible. When Glenn McGrath withdrew from Australia's tour of South Africa in the spring of 2006, he took with him 542 wickets from 119 Test appearances, stretched across a stellar career.

Merely bridging such a gap should have been remarkable, let alone hitting upon a like-for-like replacement. But for 23 Tests Clark was the methadone to McGrath's metronome, as Australia weaned themselves off a decade-long addiction to the generation's most enduring strike bowler.

His maiden Test series was nothing short of a revelation. South Africa had spent most of the previous decade under the yoke of McGrath and Warne, and in the former's absence, there must have been an assumption of weakness in Australia's ranks.

Not a bit of it. On his Test debut, Clark sauntered onto centre stage with match figures of 9 for 89, and had made it 20 wickets by the time a whitewash was wrapped up. He specialised in quality - 16 of those wickets were top-order batsmen, including Jacques Kallis four times. Clark continued that trait into the following winter's Ashes, not only keeping his place as McGrath slotted back in, but outbowling the senior man by 26 wickets to 21, the most by any bowler on either side.

His next experience of Ashes cricket wasn't as fulfilling. The new generation of Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson were given first dibs in the 2009 series, but Clark nevertheless showed what they had been missing when called up for the fourth Test, at Headingley. His first-day figures of 3 for 18 helped rout England for 102 and set up a series-squaring win, but he never played again after defeat at The Oval two weeks later.

Patrick Patterson (standing, fourth from right) with the 1992 West Indies World Cup squad

Patrick Patterson (standing, fourth from right) with the 1992 West Indies World Cup squad © Getty Images

Patrick Patterson
A terrifyingly muscular entity, with a stiff-limbed, stud-slamming action like a windmill being ripped off its axis in a hurricane, Patterson was the instigator of cricket's equivalent of the shower scene in Psycho. A television blackout for England's tour of the Caribbean in 1985-86 meant witnesses of the violence he delivered on his Test debut in Kingston are few - a few thousand baying fans in the stands, and that's about it.

Graham Gooch, one of England's finest players of pace, admitted this was the only match in which he had been truly scared. The fact that Patterson had sprung from nowhere made his impact more chilling. Joel Garner and Michael Holding were winding towards retirement and Curtly Ambrose had yet to make his bow. Nevertheless Jeff Dujon is unequivocal in his assessment that Patterson was the fastest ever to hit his gloves.

He came with a mean streak too. Dujon tells a tale from Melbourne: on tour in 1988-89, Dujon followed, at a safe distance, a livid Patterson as he stalked his way to the home dressing room after being given some lip at the crease. He burst through the door, paused to scan the room, then jabbed his finger in a slow and deliberate targeting. "You. You. You. And you. I am going to KILL you."

Within two sessions, Australia had crumbled to 114 all out, a denouement that echoed Patterson's career: fast, furious and brief - 93 wickets in 28 Tests, with never a series defeat. And the utter anonymity of his post-cricket life merely adds to the legend. No one seems entirely sure what has become of him, lost back to the streets from whence he came.

The felling of Clarke: Simon Jones uproots a stump at Old Trafford, 2005

The felling of Clarke: Simon Jones uproots a stump at Old Trafford, 2005 © Getty Images

Simon Jones
The shooting star of the 2005 Ashes, Jones burned memories for the ages onto the retinas of all who saw him. His 18-Test career spanned a little over three years, but his legacy has been distilled into six extraordinary weeks.

From the moment he made his Test debut against India at Lord's in 2002, Jones' methods brought a sense of expectation. His raw speed caught the eye - in particular its generation, from an ambling run and a ferocious snap of the shoulders - and there was an eagerness to find him a role, just to see what could happen.

But on the opening day of the 2002-03 Ashes came the setback that would define the parameters of his international career. He ruptured his knee ligaments and was out of the series before it had even developed its narrative.

Jones required little extra motivation to do what he loved best - bowling with speed, fury and a burgeoning level of skill. He was, by his own admission, an "all or nothing character" - one who accidentally ended up sinking seven pints with Craig White on the eve of his debut - and had it not been Australia in his sights in 2005, he would doubtless have bounded in with equal zest and intent. The fact that it was, and that he located his very, very best for it, merely adds to his legend.

If one delivery sums up Jones' career, it is the reverse-swinging Exocet to pluck out Michael Clarke's off stump at Old Trafford - "That is very good!" as Mark Nicholas memorably intoned. By this stage Jones was a rattling cabinet of ibuprofen and cortisone injections. His ankle eventually collapsed after Trent Bridge and his knee - on borrowed time since the Gabba - called in its debts soon afterwards. It was all too brief. All too brilliant.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket