Luke Pomersbach in the dugout, waiting for his turn to bat in his only international match    Getty Images
Luke Pomersbach in the dugout, waiting for his turn to bat in his only international match Getty Images

December 11, 2007. Suspended by his state team Western Australia, Luke Pomersbach had turned up at WACA to watch a one-off T20I contest between Australia and New Zealand. With Brad Hodge declared unfit just before toss, Australian team management sent out a clarion call, and Pomersbach was drafted into international cricket for the only time in his career. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at one of the strangest debuts in the history of the sport.

A poor man s Jesse Ryder? Maybe, maybe not, but the similarities are unmistakable. When on song, few have been as breathtaking. Off the field, however, it is a completely different story, what with getting involved in many a controversy, from bans to out-of-court settlements to near-arrests for drunk driving, not adhering to restrictions and not taking the concept of abiding by the law too seriously.

Indeed, a seven-year career yielded Pomersbach a mere 39 First-Class matches, in which he averaged 40. The catch is, he scored them at a strike rate of 64. In T20 matches his strike rate was an astonishing 130, which tells a thing or two about his power-hitting abilities.

Lucky Luke

He was in good form that season, Luke Pomersbach, with a run of 0, 102*, 89, 28, 176 (395 runs at 98.75) in the domestic matches. Then he decided to have a drink too many with Shaun Marsh, breaching the regulations set by the team, and both were suspended till December 14.

He turned up against Victoria Second XI, and slammed a 97-ball 115. He also took 4 catches in the match as Western Australia Second XI romped home by an innings.

When the New Zealanders came over for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy that year, he played them for CA Chairman s XI, and smashed 88 in 65 balls. The tourists lost by 7 runs.

A one-off T20I was scheduled before the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. Since it was played at Perth, our hero thought it was a good idea to watch the match at the ground. So off he went to WACA.

By then the news had broken out: Brad Hodge had injured his back just before the toss. The game-plan had been to leave out Stuart Clark from the final XI. Now, with Hodge injured, the team management were left with the option of playing with Adam Gilchrist, four batsmen, and six bowlers. It was certainly not the perfect team balance.

The team management must have noticed Pomersbach s progress over the past couple of months. Given that he was available, they summoned Pomersbach, who had turned up to watch the match with his girlfriend.

The next few minutes passed in a blur. When a friend told him, Pomersbach thought it was a joke (what would you have done?). He rushed immediately to report to the dressing-room, and as he told Channel 9, he had probably forgot to lock his car.

His brother Gavin rushed with the kit, but was obviously too late. By the time Gavin arrived at WACA, Luke had borrowed some gear, and probably breathed a sigh of relief. By then Michael Clarke had won the toss and had opted to bat. Pomersbach made his T20I debut alongside Adam Voges, Ashley Noffke, and Shaun Tait.

The man who was banned by his state side was selected to play for his country.

The match

Jeetan Patel caught a scorcher at backward-point to send Gilchrist packing in the second over, but Clarke and Michael Hussey made sure runs kept coming. Once he was in, Andrew Symonds launched into the New Zealand attack, adding 80 with Voges in 7 overs.

When Pomersbach walked out, the score read 151 for 6. There were a mere 20 balls left, and there was only one way to go about it. He arrived at the crease with DODGE Hodge s nickname written on it.

He got off the mark by flicking Patel for a single. When Mark Gillespie bowled one slightly short, he pulled him into the stands for six. It was only the third ball he faced. He edged his fifth ball off Kyle Mills to third-man for four.

Four balls later he went after Gillespie, but only ended up skying it, and Ross Taylor caught him at mid-off. A livid Pomersbach returned for a 7-ball 15 with only 2 balls left in the innings. Australia finished with 186 for 4, Symonds muscling his way to a 46-ball 85 not out.

New Zealand were never in the hunt. Brett Lee removed Lou Vincent first ball. Brendon McCullum hit a six, but struggled before falling to Lee. Nathan Bracken held one end up, and the first 5 overs yielded a mere 29.

Then Tait sealed things, ending Jamie How s painstaking stay at the crease and removing Taylor with the first 3 balls of his T20I career. Mathew Sinclair did not last either, leaving New Zealand reeling at 31 for 5 in 7.5 overs.

Scott Styris played a few strokes, but wickets kept falling, and New Zealand were soon 69 for 8. Jacob Oram hit out lustily, especially off Symonds (whose 2 overs went for 39), but it was never going to be enough. He remained unbeaten on a 31-ball 66 as New Zealand collapsed to 132.

What followed?

– Australia won 2 matches in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. The second match, at SCG, was abandoned due to rain, but not before New Zealand were reduced to 30 for 3. Ricky Ponting decided the other 2 matches with 107* and 134*.

– Pomersbach never played another international match.

Brief scores:

Australia 186 for 6 in 20 overs (Andrew Symonds 85*) beat New Zealand 132 in 18.3 overs (Jacob Oram 66*; Ashley Noffke 3 for 18, Adam Gilchrist 4 catches) by 54 runs.

Player of the Match: Andrew Symonds.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry and CricLife. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)