Scotland has produced many fine things over the years, such as a wide range of whiskys, the bird from the band Texas and Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher. Plus there’s probably some other stuff, although nobody in the office could think of anything off the top of their head and the work experience boy was too busy watching television. Of course, that just goes to show how uneducated we all are, completely missing perhaps Scotland’s greatest cricketing export. A man so good at our favourite game that he managed to complete Test cricket in a single match, before moving on to conquer the world of ODI cricket with an entirely different international side. He is, if the title of the article hasn’t already made it bloody obvious, the one they call…
Gavin Hamilton’s Test debut is the stuff of legend. If we were to liken it to a film, it’d have to be 1995’s Braveheart, with the enduring image being that of Hamilton standing in a Johannesburg field, faced streaked in white and blue, facing up to the prospect of battle against the mighty South African side of 1999. And unlike Braveheart it didn’t end with him being tried for high treason and condemned to public torture and beheading, so that’s a bit of a result, especially considering how badly it went.
Following 1999’s lowest point for English cricket – losing at home to New Zealand to slip to the bottom of the Test rankings – the tour of South Africa the following winter saw the beginning of the rebuilding process. After impressing in the 1999 World Cup for Scotland, particularly in making 76 against Pakistan and 63 against Bangladesh in losing causes, Hamilton found himself part of the squad. He played all five warm up matches, making some typically bits and pieces contributions (117 runs at 39, 10 wickets at 32) that proved enough to earn his place in the side for the first Test in Johannesbury, alongside Chris Adams and Michael Vaughan. Unfortunately, said side made the worst start to anything ever, stumbling to 2/4 in the blink of an eye. While Adams made a pugnacious 16 and Vaughan an elegant 33, Hamilton managed just a six ball duck, nicking Allan Donald through to Mark Boucher.
Despite batting at number eight, Hamilton was England’s fifth choice seamer, trundling through 15 utterly inoffensive overs as South Africa piled up 403 in reply to England’s pathetic 122, the 15th time in consecutive Tests that England had been behind after the first innings. The highlight for Hamilton was a single maiden over; six perfectly on the spot deliveries, each more worthy of a resounding dot in the scorebook than the last. He finished with figures of 0/63.
England’s second innings was marginally less of a disaster, Atherton falling for a second duck of the match before Alec Stewart’s 86 and Andy Caddick’s 48 helping the tourists limp to 260 and defeat by an innings and 21 runs. Hamilton’s contribution? A three ball duck, completing his own truly amazing pair.
Hamilton was never seen again in England colours. He and Alan Mullally were replaced by Phil Tufnell and Chris Silverwood for the second Test while the cavalry truly arrived for the following ODI tri-series in the ample form of Mark Ealham, truly the king of the bits and pieces allrounders.
Hamilton did eventually reappear to play ODI cricket for Scotland, after sitting around twiddling his thumbs until 2004 to requalify for the land of his birth. By then he’d given up bowling altogether, although he did make two ODI hundreds (against Ireland, apparently in front of a crowd of less than 200 people, and Canada). Just to put that into perspective, that’s more ODI hundreds than the likes of Geoff Boycott, Ravi Bopara and Neil Fairbrother. And only 47 less than Sachin Tendulkar.
Hamilton continued on until 2010 before retiring to sit at home, eat highland toffee and admire his one England cap. No, he didn’t take any wickets. And no, he didn’t score any runs. But he became a great trivia question for the future, and isn’t that what it’s all really about?