Cricket: Sorry England, we take it all back

THE fun is over, Australia.

Remember the days when we could sit back and laugh in England's face, mocking its cricket team for constantly picking players born outside the motherland and still losing to us?

South Africa was, and still is, a breeding ground for some of the best talent to wear the Three Lions. Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Matt Prior, Jason Roy and Craig Kieswetter all come from the land of the Protea, as does recent Test debutant Keaton Jennings. The late Tony Greig rivals Pietersen as the country's most famous African import.

All-rounder Ben Stokes hails from New Zealand, as did former fast bowler Andy Caddick, and current Australian batting coach Graeme Hick was born in Zimbabwe. There are countless other examples we won't include because we want you to finish this article before 2018 rolls around.

But now we owe England an apology. We're heading down the same route.

With the announcement Zimbabwean-born Hilton Cartwright will make his Test debut in the third Test against Pakistan in Sydney starting on Tuesday, Australia will field four overseas-born players in the match - something we haven't done in well over a century.

According to stats guru Ric Finlay Australia has fielded five and six overseas-born players before, all the way back in the summer of 1876-77. But Sydney will mark the most foreign influence in our national side since then.

Usman Khawaja was born in Pakistan, opener Matt Renshaw comes from England, recalled tweaker Stephen O'Keefe originates from Malaysia and along with 24-year-old Cartwright, that makes four players born outside Australian borders.

All of those names have honed their skills in Australia, though, developing their games in state pathway programs and on our domestic scene. So we're happy to claim them as our own.

No longer can we sit on our high horse and make the gibe that all you need to play for England is a South African passport. We're internationalising our stocks, too.

Cartwright replaces Nic Maddinson - who managed a high score of just 22 in four Test innings - and will bat at No. 6 while providing support as the third seamer. Jackson Bird makes way for O'Keefe, who partners Nathan Lyon in the spin department on what is hoped will be an SCG pitch that favours the slow men.

The West Australian all-rounder's inclusion has divided opinion in cricket circles. In five first-class matches this season he's scored 330 runs at 36.6 and taken just four wickets at 74.75. He's played 16 first-class games in his career for a batting average of 44.5 and a bowling average of 41.93.

Former Australian fast bowler Rodney Hogg said the Australian selectors erred in not picking enigmatic all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for the final Test of the summer, especially with a tour to India coming up.

"This was perhaps a game where you should've picked him (Maxwell) to bat at six and be even your third spinner," Hogg told SEN radio on Monday. "It's an interesting one, it's an Australian team so you just don't give people the opportunity, but you're preparing for India.

"Maxwell can play spin and I would've had him in this Sydney Test match."

Hogg doubts Cartwright - who plies his trade domestically on the hard, bouncy WACA pitch in Perth - has the ability to play spin, so will be less helpful with the bat on the subcontinent.

Australia needs runs and wickets from Cartwright while Maxwell is desperate to return to the Australian fold.
Australia needs runs and wickets from Cartwright while Maxwell is desperate to return to the Australian fold. News Corp/Supplied

"Cartwright gets an opportunity. Interesting selection really in a sense we're two-nil up in this series, we go to India, so I'll bet my bottom dollar that Cartwright can't play spin," Hogg said.

"But if he gets runs up in Sydney people will say, 'You're a pretty good player, let's take him to India' and I don't think he's the bloke I would take to India.

"You might bat twice against (Ravi) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja coming in at No. 6 - mission impossible for a bloke from Western Australia who might be averaging 40 and played 16 first-class games.

"If Maxwell was coming in in that position you know he's the best we've got to be able to handle this situation. That's what you've got to prepare for when you're going to India."

Ricky Ponting came out recently and said Maxwell should definitely be on the plane to the subcontinent later this year, while his Melbourne Stars teammate Kevin Pietersen also backed the 28-year-old to display his best on the international stage.

But the Victorian has struggled this summer. He was left out of the Bushrangers' Sheffield Shield side to start the season on the back of a disappointing Matador One Day Cup campaign, then was fined for disparaging comments made about having to bat below his state captain Matthew Wade - a wicketkeeper - in the batting order.

He has two single figure scores and a 10 in five innings in the whites for Victoria in 2016-17 and has only registered one half century. However, he did guide his Big Bash franchise the Stars to a win in his first match with an unbeaten 58.



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