No ducks, big debuts: Little-known facts about Kepler Wessels
The only player to have represented two countries in international cricket, Kepler Wessels is a cricket trivia icon and one of the most intriguing figures to have ever played the sport.
Born in South Africa, Wessels migrated to Australia at a young age and represented the Kangaroos from 1982 till 1985 before promptly retiring from the sport.
Post the abolition of the apartheid in South Africa, Wessels returned to international cricket in 1991, this time to represent his country of birth, and played four years for the Proteas, even captaining the side before retiring for good.
While these are the rather well-known facts about Wessels career and life in general, there’s more to it than meets the eye. We take a look at some rather unknown nuggets about the former cricketer:
A history-maker in Sri Lanka
During Australia's tour to the island nation in 1983 for a Test and three ODIs, Wessels etched his name into the history books as he became the first overseas cricketer to score a century in Sri Lanka.
Wessels, who opened the innings alongside Graeme Wood, smashed 141 off 188 balls, helping Australia pile 514 on the scoreboard. In reply, the hosts were bundled out for 241 in the first innings and could only muster 204 after Australia enforced the follow-on, losing the match by an innings and 38 runs.
Wessels was named the Man of the Match for his brilliant knock.
Always off the mark
Wessels represented Australia 54 times in ODIs and suited up on a further 55 occasions for South Africa and scored a total of 3,363 runs at a respectable average of 34.67.
While Wessels had a few single-digit scores in his ODI career, the South African was never dismissed on a duck in his 104 innings. Only New Zealand's Martin Crowe (119) and India's Rahul Dravid (120) have played more consecutive innings without a duck.
Among those still active, Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza (83), Pakistan's Sarfaraz Ahmed (77) and Australia's David Warner (75) are the closest to dethroning Wessels from the No. 3 spot on the list.
Wessels loved making a big impact on debut and did so in each of his maiden Test and ODI innings for both Australia and South Africa.
He made his debut in the second Test match against England in the 1982/83 Ashes series. Wessels opened the innings and scored 162 and was the last Australian wicket to fall, helping his side build a 112-run lead in the first innings. Chasing 190, Wessels yet again showcased his class with the bat, scoring 46, the second-highest score by an Australian batsman in the innings, and helped the visitors take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series. Wessels was named the Man of the Match for his stellar showing with the bat.
In his ODI debut for Australia against New Zealand in January 1983, Wessels scored 79 as Australia chased down 182 and won by eight wickets. Eight years later, in his debut for South Africa in ODIs against India, Wessels top-scored for his side with 71 runs, but could not help the Proteas chase 224, as India won the contest by 38 runs.
In his Test debut for South Africa against the West Indies, Wessels scored 59 in the first innings and 74 in the second.
Coach of Chennai
Former New Zealand captain and batting great Stephen Fleming has been Indian T20 League side Chennai's head coach for so long, that it’s hard to believe that the team had ever employed someone else to coach the team.
However, in the inaugural season of the Indian T20 League, when Fleming was still a player and represented the side that he would go on to coach for ten seasons and counting, Kepler Wessels was the head coach of the Chennai.
The team had an extremely successful first season, reaching the final where they were upstaged by the Shane Warne-led Rajasthan.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Torsten Blackwood