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Wait for me
Not many people have flown over the ground and watched a Test they were playing in, but this happened to the great West Indian batsman Weekes in March 1948: brought back for the fourth Test in Kingston after originally being dropped, Weekes ran into problems with airport delays, and spotted the match taking place as he finally flew into Kingston. Expecting to be 12th man, he was surprised to learn on arrival that he was actually playing: it did not go down well with the home crowd when Weekes eventually replaced his local Jamaican substitute. "I walked on amidst loud boos and what seemed like a lifetime of jeering... it was not a very pleasant entrance," he recalled. But he shut them up when he batted, with his first Test century.
Late in 2008, Vijay achieved the unusual feat of winning his first Test cap while a match he was playing in was still going on. Vijay scored 243 for Tamil Nadu against Maharashtra on November 3-4, sharing an opening stand of 462 with Abhinav Mukund, who went on to 300 not out. Vijay was cutting a cake to celebrate his double-century when news came through that he'd been called up to play Australia, as Gautam Gambhir had been banned for one match. By the time Tamil Nadu completed victory in Nasik on November 6, Vijay was facing Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson in the fourth Test in Nagpur - and putting on 98 for India's first wicket with Virender Sehwag.
The umpires are usually among the first on the scene for a big match, to ensure everything is in order: Dickie Bird famously used to turn up at around 6am. But Orchard of South Africa miscalculated during a one-day international at Old Trafford in 2002: he thought it was a day-night game, and turned up just in time for a hearty lunch... only to discover it was a daytime match and he'd missed the start. Jeremy Lloyds deputised for the first four overs.
A member of the famous Middlesex cricketing clan, Hearne received a late call-up to make his first-class debut against the touring Philadelphians at Lord's in 1908. But the match was all over on the first day - the Americans made 58 and 55, and Middlesex 92 and 24 for 3. Hearne is shown as "absent" in Middlesex's first innings, and as Keith Walmsley suggests in his recent booklet Brief Candles, it seems possible that he was not actually present at the ground at any time during the match. Since he never played again, he may well have missed his entire first-class career.
The Guyana fast bowler Bess missed the start of his first Test - against South Africa in Bridgetown in June 2010 - because he didn't know he was playing. After a late injury to Nelon Pascal (himself a late replacement for Darren Sammy), the lanky Bess was whistled up from the High Performance Centre a few miles away in Barbados. West Indies batted first, so he wasn't greatly missed. Bess bowled 13 expensive overs in the match, for the wicket of nightwatchman Paul Harris, and hasn't played again since.
When England ran into familiar injury problems on the 1990-91 Ashes tour, one of the replacements called up was the Worcestershire fast-medium bowler Newport. He'd been doing well for England A in Sri Lanka just days before being rushed to Perth for the final Test, a fact Tony Greig was passing on to TV viewers as Newport came out to bat on the first afternoon. He tickled his first ball through to the keeper, and Greig erupted: "He's gone... goodnight Charlie... back to Sri Lanka!"
One of the few instances of a "timed out" dismissal in first-class cricket occurred during a South African domestic match in East London in 2002-03, when the Barbadian fast bowler Drakes failed to report for batting duty during Border's first innings against Free State. This wasn't altogether surprising, as he probably wasn't even in the country at the time: his flight from Sri Lanka, where he'd been playing for West Indies in the Champions Trophy, was severely delayed. He arrived in time to take two wickets next day.
If you're going to go missing mid-match, you might as well make a splash, which is exactly what legspinner Peebles did during a minor game at the end of England's 1927-28 tour of South Africa. "As our batsmen were well entrenched I went with a couple of local lads to bathe in a nearby river," he recalled. "The time passed more quickly than we had calculated, and when I got back, we were in the field and I was soundly and properly berated by Ronny [Stanyforth, the captain]. However, no one was more amused than he when next day the Cape Times in their score of the match had a line: 'Peebles absent bathing 0', an entry surely unique in the scorebooks of the world."
The burly, bearded Queenslander Ogilvie was unlucky to miss out on initial selection for Australia's 1977-78 tour of the West Indies after a fine domestic season in which he'd scored six centuries. But injuries meant the call soon came anyway, and he was included for the tour game against Barbados. "This caused some consternation amongst the press boys," recalled tour captain Bob Simpson, "as he was not to arrive in Barbados until the second day." Luckily, Simmo won the toss and fielded first, and Ogilvie was able to stroll in next day and score 50.
England's seemingly perennial problems with injuries led to several replacements being required during the 2011 World Cup. The last of them was the Yorkshire legspinner Rashid, who hot-footed it to Sri Lanka... just in time to queue up for the flight home. England lost their quarter-final the day before he arrived.
The Australian legspinner MacGill's last Test match, against West Indies in Antigua in mid-2008, was a memorable one - for the wrong reasons. First, he overslept on the second morning, and missed the team bus, leading to a fine. "I was late for work," he deadpanned. The following day, while the Test - the second of the four-match series - was still in progress, MacGill announced his immediate retirement, blaming the effects of injuries: "My time is up." It was a sad end for a bowler who reached 200 Test wickets in fewer Tests than anyone except Clarrie Grimmett, Dennis Lillee and Waqar Younis.
Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2012.