By all accounts the recent Test series between South Africa and Australia was everything you’d expect of these two warrior nations, and the overriding sentiment I’m sensing is that it’s an enormous shame and discredit that only two Tests were scheduled.
But that’s neither here nor there for me. Much as I would like to comment, and to my great sadness, I didn’t see a single ball bowled beyond what highlights I could scavenge off YouTube. So instead…
I did some research and had a bit of fun with the players’ names
This is the XI that did duty against Australia…
Graeme Smith | Jacques Rudolph | Hashim Amla | Jacques Kallis | AB de Villiers | Ashwell Prince | Mark Boucher | Vernon Philander | Dale Steyn | Morne Morkel | Imran Tahir
…and there’s a lot that’s unique about them.
Rudolph and Kallis are the only two people named Jacques to ever play Test cricket.
Hashim Amla is the first and only Hashim to play in Tests. It is also rumoured that no Hashim anywhere in the world, cricketing or otherwise, has a more impressive beard.
AB de Villiers is only the second man from the de Villiers tribe ever to play Test cricket. The first, of course, was countryman ‘Vinnige’ Fanie back in the ‘90s.
Ashwell Prince is the only Test cricketer ever to be called Ashwell. Anagrams for Ashwell include ‘was hell’, ‘saw hell’ and former West Indian fast bowler ‘Wes Hall’.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, there have been two Test playing Vernons before Vernon Philander – Australian Vernon Ransford and The Reverend Vernon Royle from England. Our Vern is definitely the only Philander ever to play a Test, however.
Dale Steyn, surprisingly to me, was the very first Dale to play Test cricket. Since then, Dale Richards has played three Tests for the West Indies, but Steyn was the first.
Morne Morkel is the first and only Morne to play in Tests. He is also the tallest.
It’s worth mentioning that two other players in the 14-man squad are also uniquely first-named in Test cricket: Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Jean-Paul (JP) Duminy.
I’ll leave it there, before I get consumed by the www.espncricinfo.com Statsguru, and head off to the nets. Because you may have noticed no Murison has ever played Test cricket. Yet.