While being a kid, the moniker of Connor Williams fascinated me always, given the fact that he was new blood in a burst of controversies that surrounded India in a particular series. Unfortunately, fate did not side with him and his career came to a screeching halt even before it hit the road.
Cricket, being a religion in India, is always placed in the highest regard. Hence, when a cricketer makes it to the playing eleven of the national team, it is not just massive for the youngster but the entire nation stays intrigued to see him battle the superior likes of India’s counterparts.
One such name who achieved his dream of featuring in the Test team for India was an unheralded Connor Williams from Baroda, the state that has given India countless players including the likes of Vijay Harare, Zaheer Khan Irfan, and Yusuf Pathan.
Despite managing to chronicle this herculean feat, the number of Tests next to his name is zero. This is not a mistake of some statistician or Google, but a rare fact that took away the most prestigious chapter of Connor’s life.
In India’s 2001-02 tour of South Africa, match-referee, Mike Denness booked Shiv Sundar Das, Deep Dasgupta, Virender Sehwag, and Harbhajan Singh for excessive appealing. After the inquest, they were handed a one-match ban.
The hammer fell even heavier on Indian captain, Saurav Ganguly as he was banned for a Test and two ODI’s for failing to control his team members’ behaviour. It seemed that this was just the tip of the iceberg as even a bigger chunk of stone struck India with Sachin Tendulkar being handed over a ban for a single match, allegedly for ball-tampering.
As all the decisions went against India, this infuriated the entire nation and the apex board of cricket in India, BCCI decided to give it back to Denness in the same coin. Under the leadership of Jagmohan Dalmiya, BCCI sought for the fact that Denness should not be allowed to continue as a match-referee in the Centurion Test.
Surprisingly for the Indian fans, Cricket South Africa sided with India and ensured the fact that Mike Denness didn’t get to enter the stadium for the third test at any cost. To make the woes further deplorable for Denness, he failed to back his own reason for pulling off such an antique.
It was during this legendary controversy that the current Indian gaffer, Ravi Shashtri chose to cite the renowned remark, “If Mike Denness cannot answer questions, why is he here? We know what he looks like.”
Given the fact that Sehwag was banned for a Test, India opted for Connor Williams to replace him as the opener in the Centurion Test. The youngster failed to battle out the formidable South African bowling and was skittled out for a paltry 5 in the first innings. However, he took a resolute stand in the second innings and stitched together a fine 42 that showcased a few exemplary boundaries against the mighty Proteas pace-attack.
ICC, however, came to the aid of Denness and rescinded the third test as unofficial, thereby imparting the series to South Africa, as they took a 1-0 lead in the very first Test.
With the record of Williams’ solitary Test being expunged from all possible sources, the youngster from Baroda couldn’t crack himself another opportunity. He did get selected to play in the India England series in 2002, but couldn’t make inroads to the playing eleven.
Williams was supposed to be the 240th Test player to receive the Indian cap but Sanjay Bangar took it away as he got his debut against England.