To be born overseas is no problem for Test cricketers

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Part I: Overseas-born Aussie Test cricketers

It’s a funny world we live in. There are so many life-threatening and vitally important issues in this world today; a World War III in the looming, terrorism, domestic violence, poor getting poorer, climate change, education, housing, transport …

And what do our politicians think about?

  • A national plebiscite on same sex marriage and
  • Whether overseas-born or those with dual citizenship can hold positions in Australian parliament.

Fortunately such narrow-mindedness attitude on dual citizenship has not engulfed sports in Australia.

Four overseas-born cricketers played for Australia in the January 2017 Sydney Test against Pakistan. They are batsman Usman Khawaja (born in Pakistan), spinner Stephen O’Keefe (Malaysia), opening batsman Matt Renshaw (England) and debutant all-rounder Hilton Cartwright (Zimbabwe).

Khawaja and Renshaw are currently playing in the Test series against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Cartwright, became the 440th cricketer and the 25th overseas-born to play for Australia. This research involves only male cricketers.

Australia’s first-ever Test XI, who played England at the MCG in 1877, featured six players who were born overseas. They were the English-born quartet of Charles Bannerman, John Hodges, Tom Kendall and William Midwinter, along with Tom Horan (born in Ireland) and Bransby Cooper (India).

Below is a list of 25 Australian Test cricketers born overseas.

ENGLAND (11): Charles Bannerman, John Hodges, Tom Kendall, William Midwinter, Percy McDonnell, William Cooper, Henry Musgrove, Hanson Sammy Carter, Tony Dell, Andrew Symonds and Matt Renshaw.
SCOTLAND (1): Archie Jackson.
IRELAND (2): Tom Horan, Tom Kelly.
SOUTH AFRICA (1): Kepler Wessels.
NEW ZEALAND (3): Tom Groube, Clarrie Grimmett and Brendon Julian.
INDIA (2): Bransby Cooper* and Rex Sellers.
SRI LANKA (1): Dav Whatmore.

PAKISTAN (1): Usman Khawaja.

PORTUGAL (1): Moises Henriques.

MALAYSIA (1): Stephen O’Keefe.

ZIMBABWE (1): Hilton Cartwright.

*Barnsby Cooper was born in Dhaka, now in Bangladesh.

Charles Bannerman played the first ball in Test cricket on 15 March 1877, scored the first run (off the second ball) and went on to record the first Test century. His domination in that innings (165 retired hurt out of Australia’s total of 245, works out at 67.35 percent) remains a Test record, even after 140 years. His younger brother, the stodgy Alec Bannerman, was born in Paddington, Sydney.

Scotland-born Archie Jackson, a contemporary of Don Bradman, was an elegant batsman but died aged 23. While lying in hospital on what was to be his death-bed he got married. Knowledgeable critics opined that Jackson was as talented as Bradman and as elegant as Vic Trumper. What a tragedy that he died so young!

Billy Midwinter also played for England and Kepler Wessels for South Africa.

After scoring 1761 runs for Australia at an average of 42.95 in 24 Tests from 1982-83 to 1985-86 with four hundreds, South Africa-born left-handed bat Wessels played 16 Tests for his country of birth making 1027 runs at 38.03 in 16 Tests from 1991-92 to 1994 hitting two centuries (highest score 118).

When will Australia include an Indian in their Test line-up? In women’s cricket, however, Pune-born Lisa Sthalekar has captained Australia in Test cricket. Recently Singapore-born Meg Lannings has also captained Australia.

Unlike in politics, open-mindedness exists in cricket in Australia. May it continue!

[Part II will feature overseas-born cricketers to play for India and for England. To be published tomorrow.]

 

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