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The foreign legion: Australia’s overseas XI

Khawaja (left) and Renshaw were both born outside Australia // Getty Images

Following Matt Renshaw’s Test debut, we’ve compiled Australia’s greatest foreign-born Test XI

The Test debut of Queensland’s Matt Renshaw in Adelaide not only signalled a new era of the Australian side, the left-hander also joined a group of just 24 foreign-born men to have worn the Baggy Green.

Born in Yorkshire and having grown up in New Zealand, Renshaw is now a proud Australian and last week became the 449th man to play Test cricket for Australia.

And with South African-born Keaton Jennings set to become England’s 66th foreign-born Test player next week, we’ve compiled Australia’s greatest overseas-born XI.

1) Charles Bannerman (born in Kent, England)

Australia’s Test player No.1, Bannerman created history when he struck the very first runs in Test cricket from the second ball of the maiden Test in 1877 against England, the country of his birth. Having moved to Australia as a child, Bannerman was a talented opening batsman who set a record in that maiden Test match that remarkably stands to this day. His score of 165 – a knock that ended only when he was forced to retired hurt – made up 67.3 per cent of Australia’s first-innings tally of 245, which is still the highest percentage of a team’s runs in a completed Test innings.

2) Kepler Wessels (born in Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Wessels first came to Australia from his native South Africa in the late 1970s when he was 21 to take up an offer to play in World Series Cricket. With little hope that his homeland would be re-admitted to Test cricket, Wessels played in the Sheffield Shield for Queensland and eventually qualified to play for Australia, making 162 on debut in 1982 and opening the batting in the Test side for three years. The left-hander eventually returned home to become South Africa’s first post-apartheid captain in 1992, but finished with an enviable Test batting average of 42.95 for his adopted country.

Kepler Wessels playing for South Africa against Australia // Getty
Kepler Wessels playing for South Africa against Australia // Getty

3) Archie Jackson (born in Rutherglen, Scotland)

A prodigious talent born in Scotland’s central lowlands before moving to Australia as a boy, Jackson gave a glimpse of his talent when he struck a 164 on Test debut against England in 1929. The elegant right-hander’s career was tragically cut short after eight Tests when he died from tuberculosis, aged just 23.

4) Usman Khawaja (born in Islamabad, Pakistan)

Khawaja became the first Muslim to play Test cricket for Australia when he received his Baggy Green in the final Test of the 2010-11 Ashes series. The Pakistan-born left-hander, who moved to Sydney as a child, arguably recorded his finest Test innings in the recent third Test against South Africa, finishing with a superb 145 on a tricky Adelaide Oval pitch.

5) Meg Lanning (born in Singapore)

Born in Singapore where her father Wayne was working at the time, the Southern Stars’ record-breaking captain has established a reputation as the most-feared female batter on the planet. Lanning’s 134 against South Africa in their recent ODI series saw her equal Charlotte Edwards’ record for the most women’s ODI tons, and Lanning is still just 24 years old.

6) Andrew Symonds (born in Birmingham, England)

Born in England, Symonds’ adoptive parents moved to Australia when he was a baby and he only ever had eyes for representing the country he became something of a cult figure in. A laid-back character who grated with Australia’s administration at times, the allrounder carved out a spot in the Test side of the mid-2000s but was better known for his prowess in the 50-over format. His 143 against Pakistan in Australia’s 2003 World Cup opener remains one of the tournament’s most memorable knocks.

Andrew Symonds moved to Australia from England when he was young // Getty
Andrew Symonds moved to Australia from England when he was young // Getty

7) Brendon Julian (born in Hamilton, New Zealand)

Born on New Zealand’s north island, Julian’s family moved to Western Australia when he was just seven-years-old. The allrounder played seven Tests and 25 ODIs for Australia in the mid-1990s and his brisk left-arm pace and hard-hitting batting helped lead WA to back-to-back Sheffield Shield titles in 1997-98 and 1998-99.

8) Sammy Carter (born in Yorkshire, England)

The Yorkshire-born gloveman once played in a Test for his adopted country against England where he was the only player on the field to be born in the famous cricketing county. Carter established a reputation as fine gloveman in his 28 Tests between 1907 and 1922 and in 1932, aged 54, he toured the USA and Canada with an official Australian side featuring Sir Donald Bradman.

9) Billy Midwinter (born in Gloucestershire, England)

The only cricketer to have played for both England and Australia in Tests against the other, Midwinter moved to Australia at the age of nine. In 1878, legend has it that he was virtually kidnapped by legendary batsman WG Grace, who took him to play for Gloucestershire – the county where he was born – instead of the touring Australians against Middlesex. A medium-pacer and handy batsman, Midwinter played 12 Tests for the two countries between 1877 and 1887.

Brendon Julian during Australia's 1993 Ashes tour // Getty
Brendon Julian during Australia’s 1993 Ashes tour // Getty

10) Clarrie Grimmett (born in Dunedin, New Zealand)

Dubbed the ‘Bradman of Spin’, the leg-spinner took 216 Test wickets in a decorated career, which puts him behind only Nathan Lyon – who took his 217th wicket in Adelaide last month – as well as Shane Warne and Richie Benaud as Australia’s most prolific spin bowlers. It could have turned out a lot differently for the New Zealand-born Grimmett though; he was named as an emergency for the Kiwis’ tour of Australia in 1913-14 but didn’t receive a call-up. He later moved to Sydney at the outbreak of the First World War before making his Test debut for his adopted nation in 1925.

11) Tony Dell (born in Hampshire, England)

The only Test cricketer to have fought in the Vietnam War, the Hampshire-born Dell played two Tests in the early 1970s. While he took five wickets opening the bowling alongside Dennis Lillee on debut, the left-armer’s Test career was hampered by the depth of Australia’s fast-bowling stocks at the time.


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