A thread to look at players whose Test careers should've been much more considerable than they were, and the reasons why they weren't.
Here's a few seam bowlers:
Ken Higgs - never truly fathomed his case. 15 Tests in 3 years, in which he took 71 wickets at less than 21, and a First-Class career of 22 years (1958-1979, plus a few games thereafter) in which he scarcely had a bad year (averaged over 30 just 3 times). England had more than a few good seamers around this time, but Higgs might well have been as good as all and was almost certainly better than most.
Bill Bowes - similar. Between 1932 and 1939, England played 51 Test matches. Bowes featured in just 14 of them, but took 67 wickets at 21.58. Of course, there were Larwoods, Voces and Allens, plus the small matter of Hedley Verity, but Bowes (First-Class average of under 17 between 1929 and 1947) was surely better than almost any seam-bowler of his time, possibly including Larwood after his injury.
Fanie de Villiers - 29 years old when he made his Test debut, having been 27 when South Africa were readmitted, de Villiers made-up for lost time by taking 75 wickets at 25.45 in his first 16 games. Nonetheless, he still missed 7 in this time, and sure enough, that was basically that. He played just 2 more games in 1997/98. Why was this? I've never been totally sure. Neil Manthorp mentions "physical setbacks, language prejudice and the blinkered view that his talents were fit only for limited-overs cricket", all of which seems a crying shame.
Bruce Reid - well-known case, suffered cruelly from injuries.
Mike Hendrick - I just don't understand this at all. Hendrick played around a time when there was no shortage of high-quality seam bowlers in England (Snow, Willis, Arnold, Old, latterly Botham). Yet his average was the best of them. Why did he not play more?
Damien Fleming - another Australian of the 1990s who suffered cruelly from injuries, but was also of times demoted below the likes of Paul Wilson and Adam Dale, which, frankly, beggars belief.
Gary Gilmour - between '73/74 and '77, Gilmour played 15 Tests, taking 54 wickets at 26. But that was it. Nor was he someone lost due to Kerry Packer, though he did join the schism. He simply suffered injury, and his lackadaisical attitude didn't allow recovery.
Len Pascoe - debuting just before the Packer schism, aged 27, he immediately defected there, and ended-up playing just 14 Tests, in which he averaged 26.06.
Shane Bond - little need be said here.
Geoff Dymock - like Pascoe, a late debutant (aged 28), and after 4 ineffective games that seemed to be that. But after good performances for Australia while Packer players were out, he earnt the right to start as a first-choice after it, and performed with excellence that home summer ('79/80). But after an ineffective series in Pakistan, that was it.
Khan Mohammad - was Fazal and Khan potentially Pakistan's former-day Sarfaraz-Imran or Wasim-Waqar? We'll never know, as Khan played just 13 Tests (3 disposable ones against New Zealand), succombing many times to various muscle strains and pulls.
Winston Benjamin - after a brief but successful foray into the West Indies team between 1987/88 and 1989, playing 8 Tests, you wouldn't have expected Benjamin to have to wait another 4 years for his next Test cap. But this he did, and though he again let no-one down in his first 6 games of this streak, his last 7 were shockers and that was it. Even though the high tide of West Indian seam-bowling excellence had ebbed by the time of his career (he was less unfortunate than the likes of Wayne Daniel and Sylvester Clarke) he still had a fair few bowlers to contend with, and his poor fielding may have counted against him. However, to have his namesake Kenneth and the likes of Anderson Cummins preferred must have grated.
Dean Headley - an England bowler who suffered injuries, how unusual is that? Headley suffered worse than most, however - he managed just 2 years of a Test career, and was a late developer, not debuting until the age of 27. His record, however, equalled Fraser and ended-up surpassing Gough, Caddick, Cork and DeFreitas.
Harold Larwood - after his debut in 1926, surely one of England's greatest ever bowlers was in for a long Test career? It proved not to be. He was in and out of the side between then and 1932, and his (entirely understandable) refusal to apologise for Bodyline, coupled with a serious injury in 1933, meant his career was over at 28.
Dion Nash - not quite of Bond's calibre, but an excellent bowler who suffered horrific injuries more than once.
Tibby Cotter - be good if Sean (either one) or someone could inform me as to why he played so little Test cricket.
Ken Farnes - it was bad enough that war was declared just as England's premier seam-bowler of his time was entering his prime years. Tragically, Farnes lost his life not long into the conflict.
Simon Doull - like Bond, and Nash, a Kiwi seamer who could unquestionably bowl, but whose career was cut short by serious injury.
Neil Hawke - a fine Australian seam bowler, backing-up Garth McKenzie, but whose health was always dubious
Shayne O'Connor - a talented Kiwi seamer who suffered from multiple injuries. Where've we heard this before...?
Reon King - injuries, yet again. He could've been the new Walsh, but he ended-up a sorry tale.
Let's have some others.