(MENAFN) On February 4, 2023, Gary Ballance made his debut for Zimbabwe in a Test match at Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, marking the first time he represented his country of birth. While some cricketers have made their debuts at an older age, Ballance's story stands out as he had already played Test cricket for England on 23 occasions. This makes him one of only 16 male cricketers to play for more than one country in the 146 years of Test match history.
Considering the large number of players who have participated in Test matches since its inception in 1877, Ballance's achievement is a rare one. Only four of the 16 players who have represented two countries have done so in the last 50 years. Boyd Rankin, born in Northern Ireland, played for England against Australia in 2014-15, but his opportunities for further appearances were limited due to injuries. He was selected to play for Ireland's first-ever Test in 2019 after they became a full ICC member.
Political circumstances have disrupted the careers of South African cricketers between 1971 and 1994, with John Traicos playing just once in 1970 against Australia. He later played for Zimbabwe in 1991 at the age of 45, with the gap between his two appearances being the longest in Test history. Kepler Wessels settled in Australia and played in 24 Tests for them between 1982 and 1985 before retiring in 1986 and returning to South Africa. After the country's readmittance to international cricket, Wessels played 16 Tests between 1992 and 1994, captaining in each one, before retiring from Test cricket again.
Aftikar Ali Khan Pataudi is the only player to have represented both India and England. He scored a century in the first Test of the controversial 1932-33 body-line series in Australia, but his disapproval of England's captain's tactics led to him being left out of the final three Tests. Pataudi declined two invitations to captain India before finally accepting the role in 1946 at Lords.
In conclusion, Ballance's achievement is remarkable, given the rarity of cricketers representing more than one country in Test matches. His story adds to the small but significant list of players who have achieved this feat in the history of Test cricket.
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