United Nations XI: The best players to play for England born elsewhere

It is oft stated by those of us who are not fans of the English cricket team that it is, at times, akin to playing a United Nations XI given that a number of English players over the years have been born, and in some cases played significant cricket, in countries other than England.  As a result of a discussion on this very issue this morning, off the back of an Irishman and Zimbabwean making their debuts for England today, I was set the challenge of naming a “best” English XI made up from those who were born somewhere other than England.

Let me get this out of the way now: I am abundantly aware that some of these players moved to England to play cricket because of political (apartheid), opportunity (their country was not in test cricket) or, indeed, they moved there with their families as children.  I am also not in any way seeking to be racist.  All I am pointing out is that a large quotient of England’s best players, for better or for worse, have been born elsewhere.

The method for picking this XI has been simple: I reviewed the records of the English players who have played the game filtered by from the most tests played to the least and then I looked at the place of birth of players I knew to have been born other than in England.  I may have missed a couple along the way but I reckon this XI is pretty spot on.  Finally: Wales, Scotland and Ireland and NOT part of England for the purpose of this exercise.

Here is the United Nations (English) XI (with country of birth in parenthesis) along with their test records:

Andrew Strauss (South Africa)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
100 7037 177 40.91 121

Mike Denness (Scotland)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
28 1667 188 39.69 28

Allan Lamb (South Africa)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
79 4656 142 36.09 1    1/6 23 75

Kevin Pietersen (South Africa)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
104 8172 227 47.78 10  3/52 86.9 62

Graeme Hick (Zimbabwe)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
65 3383 178 31.32 23 4/126 56.78 90

Basil D’Oliviera (South Africa)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
44 2484 158 40.06 47 3/46 39.55 29

Matt Prior (South Africa)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
75 3920 131 40.83 217

Tony Greig (South Africa)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
58 3599 148 40.43 141 8/86 32.2 87

Chris Lewis (Guyana)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
32 1105 117 23.02 93 6/111 37.52 25

Robert Croft (Wales)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
21 421 37 16.19 49 5/95′ 37.24 10

Norman Cowans (Jamiaca)

Matches Runs HS Ave Wkts BBI Ave Catches
19 175 36 7.95 51 6/77′ 39.27 9

That is a pretty fair XI I am sure you will agree.  It would be remiss of me though to not mention one of the most hated English players to grace these shores (not Stuart Broad for those of you who jumped to that conclusion), Douglas Jardine.  The captain of the Bodyline series and noted anglophile who was almost overt in his dislike for Australians was born in India.

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