Top 5 England cricketers who were born in South Africa
- There have been many South African-born players who have gone on to represent England at the highest level instead of their native country.
Over generations and several years, the England cricket team has seen faces which have not grown up in their own country play their guts out for the Three Lions. There have been players who have gone on to represent the England team even though they have been brought up in other countries and had only switched to England after they could not get into their native country’s national team.
The Kolpak ruling which came into force in 2003 allows these players to represent the English team as the European Court of Justice had ruled that anyone with a work permit from a country which has an associate trading agreement with the European Union (EU) had the same rights as a European worker. This meant that the counties could sign cricketers from around 100 countries, including South Africa and Zimbabwe, without having to designate them as overseas players as long as they had not represented their country in the past year.
Kolpak players then only needed a working holiday visa to play. However, now that England has withdrawn from the EU, this can no longer be applied with the same effect. But there are some cricketers who benefitted from the ruling and went on to represent England at the highest level. We look at the top five cricketers who were born in South Africa but went on to represent England:
#1 Tony Greig
The legendary Tony Greig was born in Queenstown in South Africa and travelled to England in 1965 at the age of 19 where he had a successful trial at Sussex. Greig’s only motive of changing nations was that he wanted to play Test cricket, and he achieved his dream seven years later. The man who was later known for his subtle commentary was never known for his sound technique but still managed to score six hundreds in the 58 Tests he played for England.
The South Africa-born legend was also known for his bowling as he picked up a total of 141 wickets, getting ten wickets in a match twice. He is also known for his captaincy skills which led to him being adored as a player in India. However, after he retired from the game in 1977, the cricketer went on to become the man who brought fellow cricketers into the World Series Championships for Kerry Packer.
Greig was also famous for his commentary skills and was considered as one of the best commentators in history but he died at the age of just 66 because of heart attack on December 29, 2012 in Sydney, Australia. He is remembered for his contribution to English cricket with both the bat and the ball.