SA’s gift to the world ... brilliant cricketers
Mount Muanganui and Brisbane might be 2 436km and a big chunk of the Tasman Sea apart, but very similar circumstances played out in both cricket venues last week.
Besides the hosts recording innings victories in both Tests, there was something else that stood out.
At the Gabba, Australia’s No 3 batsman was named man of the match against Pakistan for his superb 185.
Over on New Zealand’s North Island, the Kiwis’ wicketkeeper/ batsman scored 205 to earn himself the man-of-the-match honours.
Guess what? Both Marnus Labuschagne and BJ Watling are South African born.
Labuschagne – or Labooshane, as the Aussies call him – hails from Klerksdorp and Watling from Durban. And, quite ironically, they both left Mzansi with their parents at the age of 10.
And another fellow who actually stayed in South Africa into his 20s, Neil Wagner, was instrumental in the Black Caps’ demolition of England.
The left-arm seamer, who turned out for Northerns a dozen years ago, floored Joe Root’s side by taking 5/44 on the final day.
Proteas fans don’t need any reminding that the man who sent them home during the 2015 World Cup – Grant Elliott – was in fact a South African.
Not to mention wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk, who wore the gloves before Watling.
When it comes to England, we can discuss the number of South Africans who have turned out for them over the last decade until the cows come home.
Kevin Pietersen is the most notable, but don’t forget the likes of Jonathan Trott, Keaton Jennings and Jade Dernbach.
Hence the old joke: “Where do the England players stay when they tour South Africa? At their parents.”
Meanwhile, over in Ireland, ex-Griquas all-rounder Andre Botha had a hand in their glorious run at the World Cup in 2007, while ex-Affies man Thinus Fourie also turned out for them later that year.
Ryan ten Doeschate, Wesley Barresi and Roelof van der Merwe all turned out in orange colours for the Dutch.
Dewald Nel, another product from Klerksdorp, turned out for Scotland and former Proteas limited-overs seamer Rusty Theron is wearing the colours of the US these days.
Former Proteas Test spinner Simon Harmer is setting the county scene alight as a Kolpak player and its very likely he could play for England once he qualifies.
And it’s not only our players making names for themselves overseas.
South Africans coaches have been very active too.
Gary Kirsten is the best example, after winning the World Cup as India coach in 2011.
Another former Proteas coach Mickey Arthur has had stints with Australia and Pakistan, while counterpart Russell Domingo is in charge of Bangladesh these days and Lance Klusener of Afghanistan.
All these coaches have been part of the Proteas set-up – but there is no guarantee that the players would have even been considered for higher honours had they stayed on.
And therefore I’m not trying to beat the familiar old drum of suggesting that we erred somewhere by allowing them to slip through the net – but rather use them to illustrate what an influence South Africans have on world cricket.
So how the hell is our own back yard in such shambles?