Cricket and its Southern African imports
Harare – England retained the Ashes after completing a 3-0 triumph over old rivals Australia in a riveting contest in which the contributions of a Zimbabwean coach and a number of South African cricketers were priceless.
Andy Flower, the England coach, has now followed in the footsteps of his Zimbabwean counterpart, Duncan Fletcher, who also helped England retain the Ashes as their coach during his lengthy spell in charge of their cricket team.
Big-hitting batsman, Kevin Pietersen, played in all five Ashes’ Tests in England this summer and scored 326 runs, at an average of 36.22, with four catches, and the home team could have lost the Test matches at Trent Bridge and Old Trafford, which would have significantly altered the final result, were it not for his contributions.
Pietersen became England’s leading run scorer, in all formats of the game, during the final Ashes Test at the Oval after raking 13 320 runs in tests, ODIs and Twenty20 matches since he made his England debut in 2004.
The batsman, who was born in Pietermaritzburg to an English mother and an Afrikaner father and went for Maritzburg College before making his first class debut for Natal in ’97, aged just 17, and then moving to pursue a career in England just two seasons into his first-class career.
Matt Prior, the wicket-keeper batsman, did not have the greatest of Ashes series and scored just 86 runs, at an average of 14.33, but was very good behind the stumps with 16 catches and was a key figure, in the successful reviews that England launched, which had a huge bearing on the final result.
The key contributions of the English adopted sons to the country’s cause in the Ashes came at a time when Zimbabwe lost their most promising pace bowler, Kyle Jarvis, who at the age of 24 decided it was the moment to call time on his international career and signed a three-year deal with English county side, Lancashire.
It’s a move that has generated a lot of debate, and controversy, in Zimbabwe and Jarvis joined his former Zimbabwe Test teammate, Craig Ervine, who in June opted out of a central contract with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union to play club cricket in England.
Craig’s brother, Sean, who travels on an Irish passport, played five Tests and 41 ODIs for Zimbabwe before abandoning his career here to play for Hampshire in England and Western Australia and declaring he wanted to try and qualify to play for either England or Australia at international level.
Andrew Strauss, who captained England to their last Ashes win, was part of the Sky Sports commentary team and he also represents the group of cricketers who were born in this part of the world but then decided to represent another country in their professional cricket career. Not everyone agrees with this Southern African influence on English cricket and former England captain, Michael Vaughan, who won the Ashes when Fletcher was the coach, famously criticised it three years ago.
“It's a very tricky one. Someone like Kevin Pietersen made the decision very early to come over to England and he learnt a lot of his cricket here,” Vaughan told the Independent newspaper.
“I do have a problem when the likes of Jonathan Trott (playing for England), and (Craig) Kieswetter, who's played for the South African Under-19s.
“I think in Trott's case even played for the South African A team. Now that is where I have a problem, that we have almost got a 'ship-in' system of looking at talent, and a lot of them come over for the money.
“It's very, very difficult to stop them. I would like to see, in an ideal world, 11 complete Englishmen in the team but I don't think that's ever going to be the case.”
Vaughan, in his autobiography, Time To Declare, accused Trott, who was born in Cape Town, of celebrating with South Africa's players after England lost at Edgbaston in a Test match in 2008.
Not everyone is against the English imports into their national cricket team.
Legendary English cricketer, Ian Botham, who was also part of the Sky Sports commentary team during the recent Ashes series, believes they should be given a chance to play for a country of their choice.
“These guys have made their home here to play for England and I don't have a problem with that,” said the man they call Beefy.
“The biggest problem for me in England is Kolpak, and that's down to European law. What the Europeans have got to do with it, I don't know. They don't like cricket.”
But the Southern African cricketers are not only fuelling the English cricket machine.
Kruger van Wyk, who was born in Wolmaransstad, South Africa, has found a home in New Zealand and made his debut for the country in their one-off Test against Zimbabwe at home last year.
So, maybe we can do a possible Southern Africa XI and their coach who are plying their trades in foreign lands.
Coach – Andy Flower
Born in Cape Town, he went to Vainona High School in Harare and played 63 Tests and 213 ODIs for Zimbabwe, a team he captained, before being appointed coach of England in April 2009 and leading them to the ICC Twenty20 World Cup title the following year. In the 2010/2011 cricket season, Flower guided England to a 3-1 win over Australia, in Australia, to win the Ashes and his team retained the Ashes at home with a 3-0 victory.
Matt Prior – Wicketkeeper/Batsman
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to a South African mother and English father, he moved to England, with his family, at the age of 11.
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, he played for his provincial side and the South Africa Under-15 and Under-19 sides and in 2002 moved to play for Warwickshire in the English county and, after marrying the county’s press officer, Abi Dollery, chose to play for England.
Born in Pietermaritzburg to an Afrikaner father and an English mother, he made his first class cricket debut for natal in 1997, at the age of 17, but moved to England, two years later, and chose an international career as an England cricketer.
Born and raised in Durban to an English father and a Zimbabwean mother, he is the grandson of former Arsenal football great, Denis Compton, and his father Richard and uncle Patrick played first class cricket for Natal. He was named one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 2013 and last played for England this year in the home Test series against England. Occasionally plays for Mash Eagles in Zimbabwe.
Born in Johannesburg to an Afrikaner father and a Scottish mother, he grew up in South Africa and played for Western Province and, disappointed with the way he was being treated, he left to pursue a career in England after having played for the South Africa Under-19s in the World Cup in Sri Lanka. Plays for the England ODI team.
Born in Durban but moved with his family in England in 2001 and plays for the England ODI team and Twenty20 team.
Neil Wagner – born in Pretoria and played for Northerns, toured Zimbabwe and Bangladesh with the Academy sides and has been the 12th man in two Tests for New Zealand.
Grant Elliot – born in Johannesburg, he played for the South Africa A team against India A but then went to New Zealand and made his test debut for the Kiwis in 2008, in the third Test against England, as a replacement for Jacob Oram.
Kruger van Wyk – born in Wolmaransstad, South Africa, and played for Northerns before settling in New Zealand and made his Test debut for New Zealand in the one-off Test against Zimbabwe last year.