Many cricketers have ended up playing a majority of their cricket after emigrating to another country and have had success doing so. We look at some of the more interesting stories of players making it in a new land.
Born in Colombo, Gehan Mendis moved to the UK when he was 12. His prime as a cricketer coincided with Sri Lanka's ascent as a Test team, but despite his vast first-class experience and his widely regarded skill against fast bowling, Mendis never represented his country of birth. Part of that was because he held out hope of playing for England, but also, he did not want to lose his status as a local player in county cricket. Between 1974 and 1993, he played 366 first-class games and 313 List A games in England, for Sussex and Lancashire, scoring more than 20,000 first-class runs, with 41 centuries.
Professional cricket did not pick up in the Caribbean island of Anguilla until late 2007. The first competitive cricket recorded in the island was in 1977, so when an 18-year old Cardigan Connor decided to take his fast-bowling skills to England in 1979, the move made sense. Since Anguilla is a British overseas territory, he was eligible to play county cricket as a local, and he became one of the lesser-known feel-good stories from the 1980s. After making his first-class debut in 1984, Connor took more than 1000 wickets for Hampshire in all competitions, was briefly considered for an England one-day spot and walked away with £147,000 ($180,250) from his benefit year. Connor was much loved in Hove. Later in life, he coached Anguilla before becoming an administrator and politician there.
The poster child of modern-day migrant cricketers, Pietersen moved from South Africa to England in 2000, aged 20. When, in December 1999, he bowled 55.5 overs for KwaZulu-Natal against a touring England side, dismissing Michael Vaughan among four wickets, he would not have known what an important figure he would end up becoming for the opposition. Less than a year later, he signed for Nottinghamshire as a Kolpak player, and made his county debut in 2001.
Pietersen's decision was fuelled by worries that he may not get to represent South Africa due to their diversity targets. He found support in mentor Clive Rice, then director of cricket at Notts. His success in England paved the way for many other South Africans - Kyle Abbott, Simon Harmer, Rilee Rossouw and Duanne Olivier among them - to make the move to England in later years.
Before Kevin Pietersen, there was Basil D'Oliveira, whose journey from Cape Town to England's West Midlands made him one of the most important figures in cricket history. Being a Cape Coloured, D'Oliveira was not permitted to play for South Africa during apartheid, but on broadcast-writer John Arlott's insistence, Middleton, a Central Lancashire League club, signed him as a professional in 1960, when he was 29, rescuing his career. Worcestershire contracted him four years later, and in 1966 he made his Test debut for England.
The most significant moment in D'Oliveira's career came when, after scoring a match-saving 158 at the Oval in the 1968 Ashes series, he was expected to be a part of the MCC squad to tour South Africa in 1968-69. His initial omission sparked an outcry in the England, and when he was later picked as a replacement, the South African regime declared it a political move and said they would not admit the team's entry into their country. The MCC ended up cancelling the tour, and the cricket world boycotted South Africa until the end of apartheid.
D'Oliveira, who passed away in 2011, said he never intended to set so many wheels in motion. His on-field performances ensured he would be remembered for more than just the controversy that surrounded him. With nearly 2500 Test runs and 47 Test wickets to go with his 19,490 first-class runs and 551 first-class wickets, he is considered one of cricket's great allrounders.
An opening batsman and offspinner, Khalid "Billy" Ibadulla was born in Lahore but ended up playing more matches against Pakistan than for them. At just 17, he was picked in a Pakistan touring squad, but missed out on the 1954 Pakistan tour of India, which, according to Peter Oborne's Wounded Tigers, left him "bitterly disappointed". He sought a career in England and became Pakistan's first professional cricketer in the county circuit, debuting for Warwickshire in 1954. After success in England, Ibadulla did make his Test debut for Pakistan, in 1964, and scored 166 against Australia in Karachi. But he played just three more Tests for his home country, owing to first-class commitments in England and New Zealand, where he played for Otago.
He played many matches against Pakistan, as part of a Commonwealth XI tour in 1963, and one for Otago in January 1965 in the Plunket Shield. Just a month later, he switched sides and played for Pakistan in a Test against New Zealand. He repeated the feat during Pakistan's England tour in 1967, when he played for Warwickshire in a tour game and then for Pakistan during the Test series. He ended his career with more than 17,000 first-class runs and 462 wickets.
One of the hottest young talents in world cricket might have played for West Indies if Barbados-born England seamer Chris Jordan hadn't alerted Sussex to his abilities in 2013. By then, Archer had played three matches for West Indies Under-19 and seemed on track to play in the 2014 Under-19 World Cup. Instead, he moved to England in the spring of 2014 and declared his intention to play for his new country. Within five years, he would become one of the stars of the 2019 World Cup and make his Test debut for England too.