Dirk Nannes – one of few people to play for two countriesThe biggest dream for any sportsperson is to represent their country at the national level. The feeling of wearing a jersey emblazoned with the national colours and being on the sport field is a different level of excitement from domestic matches. For a cricketer, getting your first cap is a matter of great pride. Playing for your country is an honour that very few ever get. But it is not always that a sportsperson plays for a country they were born in.Nowadays, one of the most common things on a cricket field is to see players who were born in one country play for a different one. Take for example, Kevin Pietersen. Born and raised in South Africa, Pietersen made his first class debut over there. But after repeatedly failing to get a chance in the first team, he decided to try his chances in England and met with immediate success. Also born in South Africa was all-rounder Grant Elliott. Now, he plays for New Zealand and was a key factor in the Kiwis making their first ever ICC World Cup final earlier this year.But there is also another category of players – those who have played international cricket for two countries. Fast bowler Dirk Nannes would be a good example. After getting only limited recognition in Australia’s domestic league, Nannes was selected for Netherlands’ squad in the 2008 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier. Two months later, he was also selected for Australia’s T20I team in 2009, making him the first player to play for Netherlands and Australia. Another relatively unknown player is Gavin Hamilton, who played one test for England and 38 ODIs for Scotland.Here, we take a look at some other players who played international cricket for two countries, and in some cases, were the first to do so for their country:
#5 Kepler Wessels - Australia and South Africa
If there is anyone who has achieved success with both the countries he has played for, it has to be Kepler Wessels. To this day, he remains to be the only person to score 1000 runs in test matches for both the countries he has represented. He has also played 50 matches for both countries, in addition to being the first person to play for two full members of the ICC.
Wessels was introduced to the game at the age of 6, and he took to it immediately. If not for a lucky escape with deadly nephritis, Wessels might well have become an international swimmer. After that incident, he regularly played cricket for the South African U-13 side, scoring a string of half-centuries. It was soon the 1970s, and the Kerry Packer World Series happened. Wessels was lured away to Australia, and he made his international debut for them. He scored 123 and 137 for the domestic teams, and his inclusion was sealed.
Wessels faced the WSC World XI in his first ever international game, but only made 20. His first hundred came against West Indies, where he scored 126. His best came in the one-day series as he scored 136, 40 and 70 which helped Australia win the tournament. He was brilliant in tests, with 162 against England, 141 against Sri Lanka and 179 against Pakistan. He was rightly one of the new faces expected to take Australian cricket to the next level. But disaster struck. Australia was dismantled by the West Indian fast bowlers and he was dropped. Though he was back in form in the home series, he was unable to maintain it and soon lost his place in the national squad despite playing some of his best cricket.
It was 1991, and South Africa was eligible to play test cricket and ODI cricket. Wessels was asked to captain their tour to Australia and he readily agreed. His experience in playing international cricket overshadowed the protests of the local fans and he was duly named captain. He proved his critics wrong as he led South Africa to a victory over the Australian team. His conservative approach to the game led to many losses and he was heavily criticized back at home. His poor ODI numbers 109 matches with only an average of 34 and a strike rate of 55 did not help either.
Wessels last tour came in 1994, where he scored a terrific 105 at Lords, helping South Africa to a memorable win. He thus became the first batsman to score two centuries for two different teams. After the series, Wessels retired and was replaced by Hansie Cronje. Post retirement, he delved into coaching and took over the reins of Northamptonshire and the Chennai Super Kings, leading the latter to two consecutive victories in the IPL.
Though he never achieved the level of consistency he once did for Australia, Wessels did his best to play well for his home country. His record for both countries is equally good, though his tenure in Australia was a tad better. But Wessels remains the best ever cricketer to play for two countries, and it will be very tough to knock him off that position.
#4 Eoin Morgan - Ireland and England
Eoin Morgan was one of the cricketers who made a traditional entry into international cricket playing for the U-15, U-17, U-19 and finally the ODI squad of the Irish cricket team. Morgan played for Ireland in the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, where Ireland managed to qualify for the Super Eights. Though he did not make much of a mark, it was his first taste of truly competitive cricket. He had earlier scored 99 on debut for Ireland against Scotland.
He signed for Middlesex and scored his maiden first-class century for them in 2008. His talent was quickly noted and he was picked for their T20 side as well, which they won the same year. Morgan was also named captain for the side. But Morgan wanted more. He wanted to fulfil his childhood dream playing international cricket for England. His dream came true in 2007 when he came on for Matthew Hoggard as the 12th man in an international match. It was not exactly a selection, but it was gratifying. Morgan was picked for Englands 30 man probables for the ICC 2009 T20 World Cup, which was the end of his Irish tenure.
Morgan was picked for the ODI series against West Indies and later in the T20 World Cup. N the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy, he scored 62* and 67 from 34 balls as he helped England to the finals of the tournament. He also scored 112 against South Africa in a later series. Due to his good form, Morgan was also selected for test matches. Morgan made consistently good scores over the year, which strengthened his position as one of Englands middle order. He was appointed captain in 2015 after Alistair Cook decided to step down.
Morgans captaincy has been refreshing and dynamic. His attitude towards the game seemed to change after he took on the post, and he seems to be enjoying each innings he plays. Morgan has scored 13 scores of fifty or more in his first 26 matches as captain the most for any man in the history of the game. He also scored the highest runs by an England captain in a bilateral series against Australia 278 runs in 5 innings. Morgans renewed approach to the time seems to have done the fancied New England a lot of good, and England will want him to remain that way.
#3 Nawab of Pataudi Sr. - England and India
Born into the prestigious family of the Nawabs of Pataudi, Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi later called the Nawab of Pataudi Sr. was coached in England by none less than the great Frank Woolley himself. Much like Maharaja Ranjitsinhji, the Nawab wanted to make his mark in English county cricket, but chose Oxford over the formers Cambridge. In 1931, he scored 1307 runs for Oxford and led the batting charts in terms of average, two years after he won the prestigious blue.
With the racial grudge against Indians playing for England lessening, the Nawab had a chance to play for England. His brilliant knock of 238* and his innings of 165 for the Gentlemen in the next year earned him a place in the 1932-33 Ashes series the infamous Bodyline series. Under captain Douglas Jardine, the Nawab scored a century on debut like Ranjitsinhji , which helped England win the match. His constant and vocal admonishment of Jardines ruthless bodyline incurred the latters wrath, and he was promptly dropped after the second test.
The Nawab Sr. continued his dominance in the domestic tournament, scoring runs mercilessly. His poor health caught up to him and he was only able to play one full season after his international debut. He could only manage two more games for England, and soon returned to India. He was chosen to captain the India squad twice, but he turned it down both times due to his poor health. He finally accepted the honour in 1946, thus making him the first and only player to play for England and India.
The Nawab was often a vocal man, preferring to put forth his own opinion of others, like the time he remarked of Douglas Jardine that he (Jardine) has his good points, but I am yet to see them. He was also a good hockey and billiards player, and his son the Nawab of Pataudi Jr. would later captain the Indian cricket team.
#2 Luke Ronchi - Australia and New Zealand
The joke in the Australian continent is that the best way to make a New Zealander angry is to mistake him for an Australian. While the rivalry between the two countries might be laughed off, it was virtually unheard of to represent both Australia and New Zealand in international cricket until Luke Ronchi came along.
Though born in New Zealand, Ronchi started out by playing cricket for Australia. Debuting for Western Australia, he impressed with his keeping skills and quick scoring ability. To boost his international repertoire, he signed on for IPL side Mumbai Indians in the first edition of the Indian Premier League, but he made no impact. Not to be deterred, he continued to score heavily in the domestic circuit, but was never seriously considered. His chance came in 2008, where he was picked to play against West Indies. He scored 36 off 22 runs in the T20I and smashed 64 off 28 balls, becoming the third fastest Australian to score a half-century.
But luck was not on Ronchis side. With the emergence on Tim Paine, Graham Manou and Matthew Wade, he was sidelined to domestic tours. In 2012, Ronchi announced that he would go back to play for his home country New Zealand, making him the first to play for both those countries. His comeback to cricket in Kiwi colours has been a revelation for him. He has found his form as New Zealands finisher and has won many matches for them.
He made 49 off 26 balls against Sri Lanka, and then 99 and 79 in South Africa both times rescuing New Zealand from collapse at 68-5 and 69-5 respectively. His best performance came against Sri Lanka again as he smashed 170 off 99 balls the highest score by a No. 7 in ODI history in a record 267 run partnership for the sixth wicket. With a highly innovative technique and good wicket-keeping skills have made him a regular in the team, and not for one moment does he regret choosing New Zealand over Australia.
#1 Billy Murdoch - Australia and England
Billy Murdoch made his first-class debut in 1875, where he quickly garnered attention because of his good wicket-keeping skills. He was picked for the second Test match in history and played England his future team at the MCG. His record in Australia was impeccable, as he rose to be the captain and led several successful tours. He wasnt bad in England either, scoring 153 not out and 211 in two different tours the second of which was called the Ashes. His double century was also the first in international cricket.
Murdoch only played one test for England, scoring 12 runs and effecting a single stumping. But his records as an Australian was enough to make him respected even in England. He was invited to captain Sussex, which he did, playing alongside C.B. Fry and was one of the people who persuaded Maharaja Ranjitsinhji to play with them which led to the latter leaving India and returning to England. He was regarded as the best Australian batsman of that time, and second best in the world only behind the legendary W. G. Grace.
Murdoch was only the second player after Billy Midwinter to play cricket for two countries, but he achieved more success than the former. Murdoch would go down in history as one of the finest batsmen to have graced the game in the 19th century.