It is the club no Test cricketer wants to be part of, but it is hard to escape the feeling that it has just received another inductee. Bryce McGain capped a nightmare tour with a nightmare Test debut and is surely destined to finish his career with the unwelcome moniker ‘One-Test wonder’.
McGain began the tour to South Africa by missing the flight out from Australia, which was a sign of things to come. A chastening experience in the warm-up match at Potchefstroom (2-126 from 19 overs) was accompanied by a bout of illness. It also hinted at the manner in which he would be treated by the home batsmen in the Test series.
With the series safe, his chance came in the final Test at Newlands. It ended in heavy defeat for Australia (their first by an innings in 11 years) and surely represents his only appearance wearing the Baggy Green.
The hosts’ batsmen attacked McGain mercilessly from the outset, taking the tactic of not letting a spinner settle to extremes; good balls were hit to the boundary as much as bad, inevitably eroding confidence and increasing the long-hop count.
The only positive to come from his final figures of 18-2-149-0 was that they are only the second most expensive analysis in a Test innings in terms of economy rate. He scored 2 and 0 with the bat to round off a miserable individual match.
There is no first-class cricket for McGain, who is nearly 37, to stake an Ashes place in, so his hopes of a reprieve look slim, despite the bare cupboard that is Australian spin bowling – Beau Casson (10 years younger than McGain but perhaps also a One-Test wonder), Cameron White, Jason Krejza and Nathan Hauritz have all been tried and discarded over the past year.
Darren Pattinson, Kabir Ali, Jon Lewis and Ian Blackwell are One-Test wonders at varying distances away from an England recall plying their trade on the English county circuit. It says everything about McGain’s prospects that each is more likely to hand back their membership of the dreaded club.