South African born cricketers have had a good time recently. Marnus Labuschagne just scored a Test century at the Gabba, Neil Wagner picked up key wickets with a broken toe, and the Glenn Phillips-Devon Conway have been on fire for New Zealand.
Brydon Carse just debuted against Pakistan in England’s new-look second string team (originally born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa but has English ancestry).
That got me thinking – can we make a current World XI out of South African players that play internationally for other countries? And how many such players are there?
In total there have been 42 South African born cricketers who played for other countries, 21 of whom have already retired and 21 are still playing. 19 South African born players played for England (4 current, 15 former), 7 for New Zealand (5 current, 2 former), 6 for Netherlands (5 current, 1 former), 3 Australia (2 current, 1 former), and 7 from other nations (Zimbabwe, Scotland, Namibia, Ireland, and USA)
Table of Contents
- Today’s Twist
- The Catch
- Current South African Emigrant World XI
- 1. Keaton Jennings (England)
- 2. Jason Roy (England)
- 3. Colin Munro (New Zealand)
- 4. Marnus Labuschagne (Australia)
- 5. Devon Conway (New Zealand)
- 6. Glenn Phillips (New Zealand)
- 7. Curtis Campher (Ireland)
- 8. BJ Watling* (New Zealand) – WK
- 9. Tom Curran (England)
- 10. Michael Neser (Australia)
- 11. Neil Wagner (New Zealand)
- 12. Ryan Ten Doeschate (Netherlands)
- All Time South African Emigrant World XI
- A Bit of Philosophy, Of Course
- Variations: Make YOUR OWN World XI
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
*Note: Underlined & Bolded links are videos. Underlined without bold are links to other articles.
Also Read: For other South African cricket articles, check out the following:
- 12 Kolpak South African Players Eligible for National Comeback – Can You Guess How Many Players SA Cricket Missed Out In 20 Years?
- Top 11 Cricketers Who Retired Too Early – The Lost Generation of Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, AB De Villiers, Hashim Amla, and Michael Clarke
- Netflix ‘Bad Sport’ Fallen Idol Review: Must Watch for All Cricket Fans – How Will History Judge Hansie Cronje?
Build Two World XIs: (1) A current World XI and (2) World XI composed of former players who were born in South Africa but played internationally for another country.
*Note: This does not include Kolpak players or Johan Botha (who moved to Australia permanently and became an Australia citizen, but never represented them internationally. Now plays domestic cricket and BBL)
*Note, Dawid Malan was born in England and grew up in South Africa, so he is not included in the lists below.
The XI needs to have five bowlers & a wicketkeeper. While there are several players in the current circuit who can bat, can you find at least four others who can accompany Neil Wagner?
Current South African Emigrant World XI – South African Born Cricketers Who Play for Other Countries
1. Keaton Jennings (England)
- Born: Johannesburg, Teams: Gauteng (SA), Durham (Eng), South Africa U-19, England Lions, England
- Why Did They Move: English citizenship through mother, Age When Left SA: 20
- Where Are They Now: 17 Tests as English opener so far (last in Feb 2019)
2. Jason Roy (England)
- Born: Durban, Teams: Surrey (Eng), England Lions, England
- Why Did They Move: Moved with family to England, Age When Left SA: 10
- Where Are They Now: World Cup Winner as an England opener. 5 Tests, 96 ODIs.
3. Colin Munro (New Zealand)
- Born: Durban, Teams: Auckland (NZ), New Zealand A, New Zealand U-19s
- Why Did They Move: Moved to NZ at an early age
- Where Are They Now: Has played over 100 matches for the Kiwis. Currently out of favor and employs his trade in T20 leagues around the world.
4. Marnus Labuschagne (Australia)
- Born: Klerksdorp, North West Province, Teams: Queensland (Aus), Australia
- Why Did They Move: Father got job in mining industry, Age When Left SA: 10
- Where Are They Now: Scoring centuries, chirping at forward short leg, screaming ‘No Run’, and taking the world by storm. #4 in ICC Test Rankings currently. Oh and by the way, this is how you currently pronounce his name (funny video).
5. Devon Conway (New Zealand)
- Born: Johannesburg, Teams: Gauteng (SA), Lions (SA), Wellington (NZ), New Zealand
- Why Did They Move: Was not making an impact in first class cricket in South Africa. Wanted to start afresh so he sold his property & car in South Africa with encouragement from friends who took similar path, Michael Nofal & Michael Rippon, Age When Left SA: 26
- Where Are They Now: Wonderful story this. Three years after leaving South Africa, Conway debuts for New Zealand after dominating first class cricket. 14 T20Is later, 4-50s, best of 99*, 75.00 average in ODIs (1-100), and a magnificent Test double century on debut at Lord’s.
6. Glenn Phillips (New Zealand)
- Born: East London, Eastern Cape, Teams: Auckland (NZ), New Zealand
- Age When Left SA: 5
- Where Are They Now: Partner in crime with Conway. Just scored a 108 against the West Indies in a T20I. Here to stay in their T20I squad. Coincidently, replacement for Colin Munro.
7. Curtis Campher (Ireland)
- Born: Johannesburg, Teams: Gauteng (SA) U-13s,U-15s, U-17s, South Africa U-19s, Ireland A, Ireland
- Why Did They Move: Qualified to play for Ireland through grandmother – Mentioned to Niall O’ Brien that he held an Irish passport and was fast-tracked.
- Where Are They Now: Meteoric rise for Curtis. Eye catching 59* on debut, starred in the famous chase against England (2019) and now has a full-time contract.
8. BJ Watling* (New Zealand) – WK
*has since retired after the victorious World Test Championship campaign.
- Born: Durban, Teams: Northern District (NZ), New Zealand U-19s, New Zealand
- Why Did They Move: Family moved to New Zealand, Age When Left SA: 10
- Where Are They Now: One of the cogs of New Zealand’s test line up in their rise to No.1. Ever dependable, under-rated, and starred in several back-to-the-wall gritty knocks.
9. Tom Curran (England)
- Born: Cape Town, Teams: KwaZulu-Natal Under-19s (SA), Surrey (Eng), England Lions, England
- Why Did They Move: Family/Schooling. Born in SA, moved to Zimbabwe (father’s origin), played in SA for some time, before moving to England
- Where Are They Now: In-and-out of the competitive England limited overs squad. Quite effective at the death in T20Is. His brother Sam Curran, born in England, is also pretty good.
10. Michael Neser (Australia)
- Born: Pretoria, Teams: Adelaide (Aus), Australia
- Why Did They Move: Family moved to Australia, Age When Left SA: 10
- Where Are They Now: In the reserves for the Australia seam attack. Currently in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy squad against India.
11. Neil Wagner (New Zealand)
- Born: Pretoria, Teams: Northerns (SA), Otago (NZ), New Zealand A, New Zealand
- Why Did They Move: Was not getting enough opportunities due to the ‘quota system.‘ Age When Left SA: 22
- Where Are They Now: Part of the greatest NZ pace generation with Boult-Southee-Jamieson. Now a cult-hero of sorts. Bowls his heart on placid pitches, short ball stock (but can also swing it), Steve Smith-outer specialist, and even bowled recently with a broken toe. What a guy.
12. Ryan Ten Doeschate (Netherlands)
*has since retired after the disastrous T20 World Cup.
- Born: Port Elizabeth, Teams: Western Province (South Africa), Essex (England), Netherlands
- Why Did They Move: Graham Gooch spotted him with a touring Essex team to South Africa; EU citizenship due to Netherlands descent
- Where Are They Now: At an ODI average of 67.00 after 33 ODIs, his talent is unquestionable. He has travelled in T20 leagues around the world and is sought after as an allrounder. At 41 and having last played in 2019, his international career is coming towards an end. He has made the 2021 T20 World Cup squad nevertheless.
*CaptainEmbed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
- 13. Roelof Van der Merwe (born – Johannesburg) – played for both South Africa and Netherlands
- 14. Stephan Myburgh (born – Pretoria) – plays for Netherlands
- 15. Colin Ackermann (born – George) – plays for Netherlands
- 16. Michael Rippon (born – Cape Town) – plays for Netherlands
- 17. Brandon Glover (born – Johannesburg) – plays for Netherlands
- 18. David Wiese (born – Roodepoort) – played for both South Africa and now Namibia
- 19. Ruben Trumpelmann (born – Durban) – plays for Namibia
- 20. Brad Wheal (born – Durban), 21. Chris Greaves (born – Sandton, Johannesburg) – play for Scotland
- 22. Brydon Carse (born – Port Elizabeth) – plays for England
- 23. Rusty Theron (born – Potchefstroom) – plays for the United States of America (USA)
Come to think of it, this is actually a decent T20 XI that could potentially play in a league somewhere around the world. Roy-Munro-Phillips are dangerous T20 players, while Labuschagne-Conway can steady the ship. Tom Curran and Neser lead the bowling line up along with Neil Wagner and all-rounder Campher. If dibbly dobbly Munro and leggie Marnus can chip in with a few overs as the 5th/6th bowler, this is a well-balanced team.
Before we move on to the All-Time South African XI, feel free to check out other World XIs with Twists – Unlucky Cricketers XI, Underrated cricketers XI, Best Fielders XI, etc.Embed from Getty Images
All Time South African Emigrant World XI
Here is a similar line up made up of retired international players. Several English players of the great 2011-2013 Test team as well as several who left South Africa during the apartheid suspension. The details are left as an exercise for the reader.
- Andrew Strauss* (England)
- Kepler Wessels (Australia 1982-92/South Africa 1992-94): First South African Test captain upon return from apartheid
- Craig Kieswetter (England)
- Jonathan Trott (England)
- Kevin Pietersen (England): Dream first series against South Africa (2004) – 5 innings, 454 runs, 3 centuries, Player of the Series. Started the series with boos and ended with standing ovations.
- Andy Flower (Zimbabwe)
- Grant Elliot (New Zealand): Famously Knocked South Africa out of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Superman.
- Matt Prior (England) – WK
- Basil D’Oliveira (England): England-South Africa Test series Trophy is named after him.
- Tony Greig (England)
- Jade Dernbach (England)
*CaptainEmbed from Getty Images
Squad: 12. Allan Lamb (England), 13. Stuart Meaker (England), 14. Ian Greig (England), 15. Michael Lumb (England), 16. Nick Compton (England), 17. Chris Smith (England), 18. Robin Smith (England), 19. Kruger van Wyk (New Zealand)
Jade Dernbach is the only out-and-out fast bowler, with Tony Greig, Basil D’Oliveira, & Grant Elliot as key all rounders. Part-timers Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott will be needed to complete the overs. Maybe fast bowler Stuart Meaker can replace a batsman for a more balanced line-up.
“Go try something new. Embrace change. Embrace others. Embrace diversity.”
If you like this, check out all the other articles in World XIs – With Twists section.
A Bit of Philosophy, Of Course
England famously won the 2019 World Cup with key contributions from opener Jason Roy, captain Eoin Morgan (Ireland), lead fast bowler Jofra Archer (Barbados), and player of the final Ben Stokes (New Zealand). Similarly, the 2018 FIFA World Cup was won by France, a team whose 23 member squad consisted of 15 members of African descent with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba.
In either case, diversity won. Globalism and international travel have come to a halt in times of COVID & lockdowns. In these times, the stories of someone like a Devon Conway lightens the mood. Left everything, took a risk, worked hard, and fulfilled his dream.
Embrace change. Sometimes you have to leave from your birthplace in order to prosper, whether that is for education, work, or family. Go try something new.
Embrace others. Learning from others & learning about new cultures can only be a good thing.
If you like these philosophy bits, go check these two featured articles below.
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Variations: Make YOUR OWN World XI
Fun exercise, wasn’t it? If you want to have more fun, you can create more variants.
Australia in 2017 fielded Usman Khawaja (Pakistan), Matt Renshaw (England), Steve O’Keefe (Malaysia), and Hilton Cartwright (Zimbabwe). Speaking of Zimbabwe, did you know New Zealand’s Colin de Grandhomme is born in Zimbabwe?
Here are some fun ideas to create World XIs with Twists:
- You can also make an unusual XI of cricketers born in non-Test playing countries.
- For example, Moises Henriques (Aus) for born in Portugal, George Headley (WI) in Panama, Geraint Jones (Eng) from Papua New Guinea, (Pak) Shan Masood from Kuwait, (Pak) Imad Wasim from Wales, and many more!
- With the completion of Brexit, the Kolpak deal is all but over. Kyle Abbott is back with the Titans. Can you make a South Africa Exodus XI? Here are some ideas
- Kyle Abbott, Duanne Olivier, Wayne Parnell, Marchant de Lange, Rilee Rossouw, Simon Harmer, Colin Ingram, Dane Piedt (USA)
- Imran Tahir is a Pakistan-born immigrant to play for South Africa. Can you make an All-Time South African immigrant XI? Or a Pakistan Emigrant XI?
- Usman Khawaja, Imran Tahir, Owais Shah
Once you have an XI, comment below, and we will post it here! Any opinions about South African cricket?
Copyright – @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – firstname.lastname@example.org
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
In total there have been 40 South African born cricketers who played for other countries, 21 of whom have already retired and 19 are still playing. 19 South African born players played for England (4 current, 15 former), 7 for New Zealand (5 current, 2 former), 3 Australia (2 current, 1 former), and 11 from other nations (Netherlands, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Namibia, Ireland, and USA)
South African born cricketers who have represented New Zealand include Grant Elliot, Neil Wagner, Devon Conway, & Glenn Phillips.
South African born cricketers who have represented England include Jason Roy, Tom Curran, Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Basil D’Oliveira, Tony Greig, Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswitter, and several more!
South African born cricketers who have represented Australia include Marnus Labuschagne, Kepler Wessels, & Michael Neser.