The Australian selectors have taken a hatchet to the Test line-up ahead of the third encounter with South Africa at Adelaide Oval, and the Proteas’ in-form bowlers are sure to put the acid on baggy green newcomers Peter Handscomb, Matthew Renshaw and Nic Maddison should the trio of batsmen make the final XI for the match starting Thursday.
But the new-look New Zealand Test side showed with their eight-wicket win over Pakistan in Christchurch last week – after a torrid tour of India – that new blood often does the trick for a struggling team. Opening batsman Jeet Raval scored 55 and 36 not out in a match dominated by bowlers, while fellow debutant Colin de Grandhomme took a record-breaking 6/41 in Pakistan’s first innings.
For this edition of CBS Top 5, we’ve gone through the archives to reveal the most prolific batting efforts by Australian Test debutants in the post-war era.
5. Wayne Phillips – 159 runs (159 & – ) v Pakistan, 1983
Edging Doug Walters’ famous 155 on debut against England at the Gabba in 1965 out of the top five, South Australian keeper-batsman Phillips became just the ninth player in Test history to compile 150 in their first Test innings. Phillips opened the batting (Rod Marsh handled the wicketkeeping duties) against Pakistan at the WACA and shared in a 259-run second-wicket stand with Graham Yallop, helping set up victory by an innings and nine runs. Phillips went on to make just one more Test century, however – 120 against the terrifying Windies attack at Bridgetown – and played the last of his 27 matches in 1986.
4. Mark Waugh – 161 runs (138 & 23) v England, 1991
The brilliant Mark Waugh’s first chance in the Test arena finally came during the 1990-91 Ashes series at the expense of twin brother Steve, who debuted five years earlier. Mark justified the bittersweet fourth-Test call-up with a sparkling 138 off 188 balls, guiding Australia from a tenuous 5/124 to an imposing first-innings score of 386. The No.6 chipped in with 23 in Australia’s 6/314 dec in their second dig, but the Adelaide Oval clash ultimately finished in a draw. ‘Junior’ finished with 20 centuries in 128 Tests, though produced only three scores higher than his debut knock: 139* v West Indies in 1991, 140 v England in 1994 and 153* v India in 1998.
3. Bruce Laird – 167 runs (92 & 75) v West Indies, 1979
Gritty WA opener Laird achieved the rare feat of scoring a pair of fifties on Test debut, posting 92 and 75 in the drawn Gabba Test against the fearsome West Indies bowling attack. Laird passed 50 another nine times in his 20 subsequent Test appearances, but his 92 on debut remained his high score when he wore the baggy green for the last time in 1982.
2. Michael Clarke – 168 runs (151 & 17) v India, 2004
‘Pup’ set the tone for a highlight-stacked career in the Australian side with a man-of-the-match 151 – featuring 18 fours and four sixes – in his first at bat, guiding the tourists to a 217-run win over India in the series opener at Bangalore. The 23-year-old shared in a critical 167-run partnership for the sixth wicket with stand-in skipper Adam Gilchrist as Australia racked up 471 in the first innings. In a tumultuous but highly successful Test career that spanned nearly 11 years, Clarke scored 28 centuries in 115 matches, including three double-tons and a triple, retiring with an average of 49.10.
1. Kepler Wessels – 208 runs (162 & 46) v England, 1982
Just the sixth player from any country to amass a total over 200 runs on Test debut, South African-born Wessels made the seventh-highest score by a batsman in their maiden Test innings with his 162 in the second Ashes Test at the Gabba. The opener held the innings together after Australia slumped to 2/11, and was the last man out as the hosts reached 341 – a lead of 122. Wessels then made a crucial 46 in the fourth innings as Australia reached the target of 190 with seven wickets in hand. He finished with four centuries in 24 Tests for Australia (remarkably, all scores of 141 or more) to the end of 1985, and made another two hundreds as his native South Africa’s captain after their 1992 readmission to the Test arena.