Alex Tudor’s test career was bookended by his debut and tenth and last Test at Perth in 1998 and 2002 respectively. The result was the same both times – England lost heavily in three days but Tudor’s own performances were very different.
In 1998, Tudor made an impressive test bow chipping in with 18 not out in England’s paltry first innings of 112 and then making a real mark with the ball taking 4/89 and the prize wickets of the Waugh twins and Ricky Ponting.
It seemed that at just 21 years old, England had found a fast bowler of real promise – quick, tall, pacy and with an ability to extract bounce. But despite displaying all-rounder credentials in the first home test of the following summer with 99 not out against New Zealand, Tudor’s career was more of a case of what might have been.
Injuries took their toll, but a lack of visible fire in the belly and a reputed unwillingness to play through pain – surely a key attribute of a fast bowler – meant that Tudor only shone intermittently. One highlight was at Trent Bridge in 2001 where his 5/44 was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing Ashes series for England.
Evidence of a promise that would forever be unfulfilled came in Tudor’s final Test – the aforementioned match at the WACA in 2002. He took two wickets but leaked 144 runs and 11 no balls in 29 wayward overs. Then as England limped to an innings defeat, Tudor was felled by a Brett Lee bouncer. Now it must have hurt, but let’s just say that Tudor’s response was not in the same school of stoicism as Brian Close displayed in 1976 against Michael Holding or Colin Cowdrey with Jeff Thomson in 1974.
Tudor certainly lived up to his Bambi nickname as he reeled away like he had been pummeled with bullets by a trigger happy hunter. Tudor is obviously not a zero for his reaction here – who could say how they would respond to being hit in the head by a cricket ball delivered at 90mph unless they have experienced it – but the incident epitomised the stop-start career of an immensely talented cricketer that promised so much but delivered so little.
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