The great batting form of Brad Haddin in India recently has shown that Australia has a fine replacement when Adam Gilchrist decided to hang up his gloves. Over the past few years, Haddin’s work behind the stumps has improved substantially, whilst his batting has gained a maturity that sees him scoring consistently. If given the chance, Haddin will undoubtedly prove himself to be a keeper worthy of the legend of Tallon, Grout, Marsh, Healy and Gilchrist. However, Haddin will turn 30 in just a few days. He is clearly the next in line as Australia’s first choice wicketkeeper, but if Gilchrist plays another two seasons, there must be a chance that the selectors will instead decide to go with a younger option and Haddin will never get the chances his talent deserves.
There are many players over the years who could have had long and successful test careers, but were denied by time or circumstance. Stuart MacGill has languished behind possibly the greatest leggie of all time, but back in the 80s his talents would have shone out greatly over lesser players like Peter Sleep, Bobbie Holland, Trevor Hohns and Jimmy Higgs. Jamie Siddons and Stuart Law both waited for opportunities in the Australian middle order that never arrived. Jamie Cox was anointed as the next Australian opener for many years, but the chance never presented itself. Phil Jaques and Chris Rogers are both worthy of a test spot, but it is likely that one may miss out permanently.
There are similar stories from all round the world. Andy Ganteaume made a century on debut for the West Indies, and then never played again. So did Kiwi Rodney Redmond. A whole generation of South African players were lost to world cricket due to their government’s appalling racism. Many players careers (and their lives in some cases) were cut short by the two World Wars. No-one said that life was fair, but I feel sorry for these players that get so close, and then are denied the chance to shine for reasons that are sometimes beyond their control. Different times, different eras – it all could have been so different.