For as long as I can remember, English cricket has been the butt of every joke when it came to poaching players from other countries. From South Africans Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pieterson to the Irish Eoin Morgan and most recently Ben Stokes of New Zealand.
In the news this week, it’s been Australia who found itself giving the nod to an English born cricketer, one who only arrived in the great southern land nine short years ago. Matt Renshaw was born in Middlesbrough before he made his way first to New Zealand (aged seven), before landing in Australia four years later. The 20-year-old opened the batting for Australia against South Africa this morning.
So, this got me thinking, what of those who went the other way? Those born in England who then decided that the doom and gloom of Saturday afternoons in England were too much and thus made their name somewhere else.
To kick us off we have yet another Aussie cricketer who could very well have been bowling pies and stuffing streakers for the Poms. Andrew Symonds.
Although, he spent only the first three months of his life in England, fans of the game would surely have been salivating over the thought of ‘Roy’ Freddie Flintoff paired up together.
Second on the list is a bloke who made his mind up so late about who he wanted to play for, that he just said “stuff it” and then played for both. Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi was the rare English player to be born in one country, moved to England to play, then moved back to his country of birth, (India) to play for them. Talk about a trifecta.
He made his debut for the English cricket side back when bats were nothing more than a bit of taped up cardboard. In 1932, Pataudi notched a 102 in his first test innings against Australia, before playing two more games for his adopted country, the last of which was in 1934.
He then had to wait 12 long years before getting another crack at test level, this time though, he found himself captaining against the country he once called his own. To the English fan’s delight however, Pataudi didn’t fair very well in an Indian strip.
Down in the depths of the Championship, Ipswich Town sits a disheartening 17th, but what may be more disheartening for fans of the national team is the clubs plays host to a handy centre back who very well could’ve very well strengthened the English football team’s back four, had they not lost out to the ‘All Whites’ of New Zealand.
Tommy Smith (with an I) played for both the England Under 17 and 18 sides almost a decade ago, but it was the Kiwis’ sudden rise to the footballing holy ground in 2010 that lured him south. Just two years after the All Whites went undefeated in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Smith became the youngest player to captain the side. A ‘what if’ perhaps for English football? After all, he has an overall rating of 72 in FIFA ’17.
Last on this list of former England what if’s is ESPN’s, Shaka Hislop! The goalkeeper was so close to tasting first team action for England during the late 1990’s and early 00’s, garnering selection for the under 21 squad and even earning a spot on the bench for the full national team. He never quite could crack the hold that David James had on the keeper’s spot. Instead, Hislop used his eligibility for Trinidad and Tobago to his advantage and was able to take part in the country’s first ever world cup in 2006.
So, there you have it, definitive proof that the English aren’t just great importers of sporting talent, but they can export a little, as well. But, for the love of god, stop claiming Andy Murray as your own, he’s Scottish.
<Story by Riley “Caveman” Krause>
Feature Photo Credit: Geralt – Pixabay