• England’s other 1,000 Tests

    England’s 1,000th Test match is underway at Edgbaston, but we decided to highlight 1000 Tests played by their non-England born players! 

    In terms of experience, England’s 1,000 Tests puts them way ahead of South Africa, who lag behind on a mere 427 Tests… but size isn’t everything. After all, South Africa has a higher win percentage at 37.7%, compared to England’s 35.73%. It’s at times like this when South Africans like to trot out their best 11 South African-born (or SA-raised) cricketers who have made a major contribution to England. That number has risen to 12 South African-born cricketers who have played Test cricket for England, the most recent being Cape Town-born Tom Curran, brother of Northampton-born Sam Curran ― the latter Curran is playing in the 1,000th Test for England. Their dad, Kevin Curran, played 11 ODIs for Zimbabwe, so the family seems to enjoy the gypsy lifestyle when it comes to following their cricketing fortunes.

    Two problems here with the 12 available for a mythical South African team of England Test cricketers… the first being that Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen wouldn’t play together. We’d have a good man behind the stumps in Matt Prior, but a three-man attack of Sam Curran, the late Tony Greig and his boet, Ian ― with some gentle drifters from Dolly (Basil D’Oliveira) and a small serving of Pietersen pastry to follow ― would be fearsome only for retired piñata players, so this is a lineup that would clearly never see the light of day.

    We’ve sadly had to leave out Dawid Malan (who has played 14 Tests for England), as he was born in the UK but, um, surname. His dad was born in the Transvaal and played for WP B, so he’s a South African in spirit, in case we need to call on him to make up the Test numbers.

    In terms of England Test cricketers born outside of England, though, we’ve picked 15 from Africa and India who, combined, have played in 1,000 Tests for England. Pietersen, Strauss, Prior, Allan Lamb, Robin Smith, Tony Greig, Jonathan Trott, D’Oliveira, Graeme Hick, Phil Edmonds, Gary Ballance, Colin Cowdrey, Nasser Hussain, Vikram Solanki and Douglas Jardine make up 1,000 Test caps for England on the button.

    Flying their new flag: Robin Smith (middle) and Graeme Hick (second from right) fly the flag of their adopted country, encouraged by Graham Gooch’s best Magnum PI impersonation. Photo: Graham Chadwick/Empics via Getty Images.

    Here’s the full list of non-English England Test cricketers we’ve been able to identify… and they can pile up a combined tally of 1,126 Test caps for England between them.

    England Test cricketers born in South Africa

    Some great names among this list, and not short on England captains either. Mind you, if you add South Africa’s total Test matches to the Test caps of these SA-born English cricketers, it comes to 1,024 Tests… so you could say that South Africa is actually the most experienced Test nation.

    Player Place of birth Tests
    Kevin Pietersen Pietermaritzburg 104
    Andrew Strauss Johannesburg 100
    Matt Prior Johannesburg 79
    Allan Lamb Langebaanweg, WC 79
    Robin Smith Durban 62
    Tony Greig Queenstown 58
    Jonathan Trott Cape Town 52
    Basil D’Oliveira Cape Town 44
    Chris Smith Durban 8
    Keaton Jennings Johannesburg 7
    Ian Grieg Queenstown 2
    Tom Curran Cape Town 2
     Total Tests played 597

    England Test cricketers born in other parts of Africa

    Mostly Rhodesia/Zimbabwe… but seeing as Rhodesia used to play in the Currie Cup, they feel as South African as Ouma rusks, potjiekos and pap.

    Player Place of birth Tests
    Graeme Hick Salisbury, Rhodesia 65
    Phil Edmonds Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia 51
    Derek Pringle Nairobi, Kenya 30
    Gary Ballance Harare, Zimbabwe 23
    Neal Radford Luanshya, Northern Rhodesia 3
    Paul Parker Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia 1
    Total Tests played 173

    England Test cricketers born in India

    India is a prolific breeding ground for English Test cricketers, but few seem to have much longevity. Mind you, their top two are pretty special.

    Player Place of birth Tests
    Colin Cowdrey India 114
    Nasser Hussain India 96
    Vikram Solanki India 51
    Douglas Jardine India 22
    Bob Woolmer India 19
    K.S. Ranjitsinhji India 15
    Duleepsinhji India 12
    Nawab of Pataudi Sr. India 6
    Errol Holmes India 5
    John Jameson India 4
    Robin Jackman India 4
    Teddy Wynyard India 3
    Min Patel India 2
    Neville Tufnell India 1
    Norman Mitchell-Innes India 1
    George Emmett India 1
    Total Tests played 356

    Number of players used by each Test nation

    England has used the third-highest percentage of players out of all the Test-playing teams, and that lack of continuity might account for their relatively low win percentage. Mind you, with their broad base of cricketers to choose from, perhaps it’s simply a matter of picking more horses for different courses? Others might say the county game is weaker because of the number of teams involved.

    Australia has the best win percentage and, appropriately, the joint second lowest cap rate, giving a Test debut to a player every 1.8 matches. England hand out caps with relative abandon, with a new man joining the team every 1.46 Tests. Perhaps the difference is that Australia has usually been better at Test cricket than everyone else, so they haven’t needed to chop and changes their players around?

    Sri Lanka has the lowest cap rate at a new player every 1.86 Tests, which would have helped to build their somewhat more settled squads over the years, even though they’ve lacked depth in bowling to challenge for a higher win percentage. They are a smaller nation in terms of population, but only a million or so off Australia, so the smaller pool of players shouldn’t be a factor in their low cap rates.

    India has the second largest population in the world and has a massive cricket-playing population, but their cap rate is level with Australia’s, with a new player joining their ranks every 1.80 Tests.

    South Africa’s cap rate is pretty high at 1.28, which perhaps indicate that we don’t give players a chance to prove themselves, or that we pick the wrong players sometimes… or perhaps none of the above. Hard to tell with statistics, although they’re great for backing up an opinion!

    Sadly, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have the most ‘unsettled’ sides by some distance, with Zimbabwe blooding one player for every Test match they’ve played. Considering their results, perhaps they should think about sticking with their players a bit longer. It’s hard to imagine things could get much worse.

    And the grand total of Test cricketers? A total of 2,945 players have received caps for different countries (excluding the World XI, whose players were all Test stars already), and 15 of those players had played Tests for two countries, which leaves a total (open to auditing) of 2,930 Test cricketers… 23.4% of whom have played for England.

    Oh, one last stat: with England’s 1,000th Test being the 2,314th Test in history, it also means that ― on average ― every Test match played features 1.26 debutants. It just goes to show that there are always opportunities for new stars to break into the big league.

    Team Mat Players Cap rate Win %
    England 999 686 1.46 35.73
    Australia 812 452 1.80 47.16
    West Indies 535 315 1.70 31.96
    India 522 290 1.80 27.77
    South Africa 427 334 1.28 37.7
    New Zealand 426 273 1.56 21.59
    Pakistan 415 233 1.78 32.28
    Sri Lanka 274 147 1.86 32.11
    Bangladesh 108 88 1.23 9.25
    Zimbabwe 105 105 1.00 10.47
    Afghanistan 1 11 11.00 0
    ICC World XI 1 11 11.00 0
    Ireland 1 11 11.00 0

    Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

    Post by

    Simon Lewis