Ashton Agar's Test career got off to a spectacular start.
Ashton Agar's Test career got off to a spectacular start. Ryan Pierse

Ashes in the Pan: They shone brightly but briefly

AS Australia gets set to take on England in the first Test, we look back at some of those players who shone brightly, but briefly, in the Ashes arena.

Ashton Agar

A surprising inclusion into the 2013 Ashes squad, Agar was given a chance in the first Test ahead of incumbent off-spinner Nathan Lyon and leg-spinning bolter Fawad Ahmed. Outside of some useful spells in Twenty20 cricket, Agar's bowling didn't set the world on fire. His batting, however, took everyone by surprise. He remains the world record holder for highest Test score by a No.11, falling just two short of a century on his debut. He has since played a few more Tests on spin-friendly wickets.

Jack Iverson

Here's a blast from the distant past. Iverson's entire Test career spanned the 1950/51 Ashes series, and he finished with a bowling average of just 15. Making his debut in his mid-30s, he confounded England with his variety of spinners, and bent middle-finger grip. Primarily a leg-spinner, he could also bowl offies without a change in action. Iverson finished with 21 wickets in the series, prompting fellow prominent leggie Richie Benaud to later hold him in the same regard as Shane Warne. Praise comes no higher in the spinner's fraternity.

David Steele

Unfashionable and unorthodox, David Steele was anything but unpopular with the British public when he came into the England team in 1975. Decked out in big glasses and possessing an awkward technique, Steele endeared himself to crowds with some bold counter-attacking against the best fast bowling duo Australia's ever had - Lillee and Thomson. He was later named BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He finished with a Test average of 42, despite averaging only 32 in county cricket.

Australian fast bowler Rodney Hogg (centre) in action during the 6th Test against India at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai (Bombay), 3rd-7th November 1979. (Photo by Adrian Murrell/Getty Images)
Rodney Hogg burst onto the scene in a blaze of glory. Adrian Murrell

Rodney Hogg

Hogg's claim to fame was not so much about being great in a good team, but being great in an awful team. The 1978-79 Ashes was more or less decided before a ball was bowled as Australia's best cricketers had all signed with Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. Consequently, the establishment's Test team was littered with unknown youngsters. One was Rodney Hogg. In a team handsomely beaten, Hogg stood out for his attacking fast bowling. His Test career lasted seven years, and a third of his overall Test wicket tally was taken in this series (41).

Bob Massie

The only problem with a good start is that there's only one way to go after that. Massie's inclusion in Australia's XI for the second Test of 1972 was justified in no time. Massie took eight first-innings wickets at the home of cricket, Lord's, immortalising himself on the famous honour board in the process. If that wasn't enough, he took eight more second-innings wickets, more than anyone has ever taken on debut. Curiously, Massie played only five Tests in his career, and two years after his Test debut, wasn't even playing state cricket.