John Traicos remains the only one to play Test cricket for two countries outside his place of birth © Getty Images
John Traicos remains the only one to play Test cricket for two countries outside his place of birth © Getty Images

Kevin Pietersen’s retirement made me ponder over the long list of ‘imported’ England cricketers. Things have indeed changed over time. Over a hundred years ago, there was a long list of Englishmen who settled down in Australia or South Africa; they (or their sons, who accompanied them) ended up playing Test cricket for their adopted nations. Similarly, sons of British citizens posted in the Indian subcontinent returned to England.

The tides have turned over the past four decades, presumably with Britain offering career opportunities, both cricketing and otherwise. However, it has not been only about England: West Indies-borns have played for New Zealand and New Zealand-borns for Australia and Australia-borns for West Indies; and Zimbabwe-borns and South Africa-borns for each other; and so on. Add the non-Test cricket world to the mix, and you get some really exotic ‘imports’.

Add to that the curious case of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Probir Sen, born in Comilla, played for India. Comilla was a part of India when Sen was born, but by the time he made his Test debut, it became a part of Pakistan — and is currently in Bangladesh.

The Partition of 1947 changed a lot of things. The conundrum of cricket statisticians will not feature at the top of the list, but it is a real problem.However, this is not the only special case, as we will find out.

Before we analyse, let us lay down some rules:

1. Cricketers born in Wales and playing for England will not count as ‘imports’. This may make some Welshmen angry, but I really cannot help if they play Test cricket for England.

2. Cricketers born in any West Indian country will be classified as West Indies-borns.

3. For India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, the current location of the birthplace will be considered.

4. All places will feature current names.

5. If a player has played for his homeland as well as one overseas country he will be included in the list of ‘imports’.

6. If a player has played for two overseas countries he will be counted twice. John Traicos is the only example of this: he was born in Egypt but played for both South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Birthplaces of cricketers who have played Tests for another nation
Teams → Aus Ban Eng Ind NZ Pak SA SL WI Zim Total
Birthplaces ↓
Total 26 0 83 15 25 35 47 1 5 6 242
Afghanistan 1 1
Australia X 10 6 1 17
Bangladesh 1 X 1 2
Bermuda 1 1
Brazil 1 1
Denmark 1 1
Egypt 1 1 1
England 12 X 6 22 2 42
Germany 2 2
Hong Kong 1 1
India 1 16 X 3 31 3 54
Indonesia 1 1
Ireland 2 7 2 11
Italy 1 1
Kenya 1 1 1 3
Kuwait 3 3
Malaysia 1 1 2
Mozambique 1 1
New Zealand 3 2 X 5
Norway 1 1
Pakistan 1 2 10 1 X 2 1 17
Panama 1 1
Papua New Guinea 1 1
Peru 1 1
Portugal 1 1 2
Scotland 1 8 1 1 11
South Africa 1 13 5 X 3 22
Swaziland 1 1
Sri Lanka 1 X 1
West Indies 12 1 1 X 14
USA 1 1 2
Zambia 2 1 3
Zimbabwe 1 3 1 10 X 15

Note:

1. Every single Bangladesh Test player was born in what is currently Bangladesh. Sri Lanka have only one born outside the country, Jehan Mubarak.

2. Englandhave 83 imports, the most. However, they also have 42 exports, the most if one ignores the 31 India-borns who have played for Pakistan.

3. Scotland have produced 11 Test cricketers, the most for a non-Test-playing nation. Ireland have also produced 11, but they are a Test nation now.

4. Outside the British Isles, the ‘record’ of three lies with the unlikely trio of Kenya, Kuwait, and Zambia.

5. If one ignores the India-borns who have played for Pakistan, the most ‘imports’ from one country to another has been 22, from England to South Africa (no, not the other way round). This is followed by the 16 India-borns who played for England and 13 South Africa-borns who played for England.

West Indies cricketers playing for other countries
Teams → England India New Zealand Total
Birthplaces ↓
Barbados 3 3
Dominica 1 1
Guyana 1 1
Jamaica 2 2
St Kitts and Nevis 1 1
St Vincent and Grenadines 2 2
Trinidad and Tobago 2 1 1 4
Total 12 1 1 14

Note:

Seven out of 15 countries are represented here. If one thinks of it, of all Test-playing nations, Afghanistan and Ireland included, over half play for West Indies.

India-borns who played for Pakistan
Indian state Birthplace Count
Punjab Jullundur 9 4
Amritsar 3
Hoshiarpur 1
Ludhiana 1
Uttar Pradesh Lucknow 6 2
Aligarh 1
Bareilly 1
Meerut 1
Varanasi 1
Gujarat Junagadh 5 5
Delhi Delhi 3 3
Maharashtra Mumbai 2 2
Goa Goa 1 1
Haryana Karnal 1 1
Himachal Pradesh Shimla 1 1
Madhya Pradesh Gwalior 1 1
Rajasthan Ajmer 1 1
Telangana Hyderabad 1 1
Total   31

Note:

1. Do note the dominance of the states closer to the Pakistan border — Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. The Partition was significantly responsible for the switch.

2. Four of the five cricketers from Junagadh were the Mohammad brothers — Hanif, Wazir, Mushtaq, and Sadiq. The fifth was Mohammad Farooq.

Indian Test cricketers born in pre-Partition India, now not in India
Current country Birthplace Count
Bangladesh Comilla 1 1
Pakistan Karachi 10 5
Lahore 5
Total   11

Note:

All numbers are updated till March 21, 2018.