One of the Australian cricketers who faded away almost instantly after a staggering Test debut was bowler Jason Krejza. The off-spinner took 12 wickets in his first Test against India in Nagpur -- including eight in the first innings. However, Krejza played only one more Test in his career, and eight ODIs.
Even as he conceded 215 runs in the first innings, Krejza picked up the wickets of some of the stalwarts in the Indian Test batting lineup, like Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly.
A delivery which is often listed in one of the greatest balls in Test cricket at the turn of the century is that to VVS Laxman in the second innings of the Test. Now, Krejza has revealed how it was Michael Clarke who urged Ricky Ponting to back Krejza.
“At the start of the Test I started getting taken apart a little bit because the Indians went quite hard at me. I didn’t start doubting myself but those thoughts almost start creeping into your mind,” Krejza said in an interaction with the ESPNCricinfo’s ‘The Cricket Monthly’ column.
“But when Shane Watson got Murali Vijay, I remember hearing Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting talking and Punter was going, ‘What do I do?’ and Clarkey just said, ‘Mate, you’ve got to back your spinner, just bowl him.’ When I heard that I was pretty sure I’m going to get a decent crack here to find my feet and keep bowling.”
During the fourth day of the Test, Krejza said that the ball had started to assist the spinners. He called his delivery to Laxman a ‘fluke’.
“By that stage there was a little bit of rough, and I was thinking, ‘Right, I’ve got some assistance now, I can start trying to throw it out into the rough and let it spin.’ We set the fields for that, with quite a straight cover,” Krejza recalled.
"I call it a fluke because I think it was a fluke, like Warney’s ball of the century was a fluke,” Krejza said. “In my whole career you could probably count them on two hands, those deliveries where everything just comes out perfectly.”
The Indian batting line-up at the time was one of the strongest in world cricket, as the side became the no.1 in Test cricket in the same year. The 37-year-old former Australian spinner said that it was an ‘incredible’ experience for him.
“It’s really that ‘pinch yourself’ moment when I talk back over it with people. These guys were my heroes, watching them destroy spinners and destroy quicks all over the world, then all of a sudden I was there bowling against them and getting them out,” said Krejza.
"It was a hard thing to feel like you belonged, because these were the people you watched on TV. It was a great experience, incredible.”