Elliott forces South Africa to count cost of exodus
Auckland: Kevin Pietersen may be South African cricket’s most high-profile expatriate talent, but Grant Elliott’s World Cup showstopper left the Proteas once again cursing another of their lost sons.
Elliott, born in Johannesburg and schooled at the same St Stithians College in the city which also nurtured England’s Cape Town-raised Jonathan Trott, dealt the blow that killed off South Africa’s latest attempt to win a World Cup in Tuesday’s semi-final epic in Auckland.
The 36-year-old Elliott, known to teammates as “Shunt” and “Magic”, left his home country in 2001 and seven years later made his Test debut for New Zealand.
His Test career has since stalled — the last of his five caps came back in 2009 — but he has thrived in one-day internationals even if his selection for the World Cup came as a surprise for those expecting the more flamboyant Jimmy Neesham to get the nod.
“I came for a lifestyle change and also for my cricket. As soon as I arrived in New Zealand and made it my home, I had aspirations of playing international cricket for New Zealand,” Elliott told local media when he was first called into the squad.
“It’s a really tough move because you always grow up thinking you’re going to be a Springbok or a Protea.”
Elliott’s undefeated 84, topped with the match-winning six off the penultimate ball of the last over at Eden Park, gave the Black Caps a four-wicket win and a spot in Sunday’s final against either Australia or defending champions India in Melbourne.
Whereas other South Africans have left to pursue international cricket under a different flag because of the quota system in operation, Elliott insists his move to New Zealand was purely contractual.