Australia v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hobart December 6, 2011

Australian export Brownlie thriving for New Zealand


The pavlova last year, Dean Brownlie this year - Western Australia's finest have been ripe for the poaching by New Zealand recently. Then again, from Russell Crowe to Keith Urban, from Ruth Park to Rebecca Gibney, Australians have been claiming New Zealand's best as their own for decades. It's about time a few went the other way.

Brownlie might have missed the news stories last December when the Oxford English Dictionary determined that pavlova was a New Zealand invention and was not, as Australians had asserted, created at Perth's Esplanade Hotel in 1935. If he hadn't caught up with those reports it would be understandable. This time last year, Brownlie was just settling in to his second season with Canterbury.

He had lived in Perth for the first 25 years of his life, his primary connection with New Zealand the fact that his father was born in Christchurch. Now, he is not only playing Test cricket against Australia, but thriving: in the first Test he was New Zealand's leading scorer, with a fighting 77 not out in the first innings and 42 in the second.

It was the kind of performance that made onlookers wonder how Brownlie had spent so long in Perth club cricket without earning a place in Western Australia's side. He played some junior cricket with Shaun Marsh, but by his own admission wasn't seriously in the reckoning for a state call-up.

"I don't think I was that close," Brownlie told reporters in Brisbane, before the team flew to Hobart for the second Test. "I was scoring a few runs, but given the quality of players in WA, probably didn't score enough runs to demand a spot. It was more a cricketing decision [to move to New Zealand]. I just wanted to give it a go and see what happened. If I got a first-class game - awesome."

Brownlie's efforts in the Gabba Test certainly left more of a mark on Michael Hussey than any grade performances in Perth over the past few years. Hussey said he didn't remember playing club cricket against Brownlie, but he was impressed by his work in Brisbane.

"I thought he played very well," Hussey said. "He showed great temperament, against some pretty hostile bowling there for a while, coming in for the second innings in particular when the team was under extreme pressure, I thought he applied himself really well. It is a shame we couldn't keep him in Australia ... but I thought he played really well, showed a great temperament and a good, solid technique as well."

Brownlie, 27, has now scored two half-centuries from his two Tests and appears to be one of the most stable parts of a faltering batting order. He hopes he can continue to thwart the Australians, his countrymen for most of his life, when the second Test starts at Bellerive on Friday.

"Two years ago I was playing club cricket in Christchurch. I never thought I'd be at the Gabba playing a Test match. It was awesome," he said. "I haven't really had too much to do with them [the Australian team], so it wasn't really a change of scenery. It was an awesome experience."

And it was one that wouldn't have come without gambling on a trip across the ditch.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on December 7, 2011, 22:52 GMT

    @HatsforBats - yep, just as an aside, I reckon Khawaja has the MOST OZZY accent I have ever heard! Normally/often people with parents born elsewhere, retain some touch of accent, I reckon Khawaja sounds more Ozzy than Paul Hogan circa 1980!!!

  • RandyOZ on December 7, 2011, 12:27 GMT

    @HatsforBats, you've hit the nail on the head. But when you have a pathetically weak county system they have to pay the pick bucks to recruit foreign players.

  • HatsforBats on December 7, 2011, 7:50 GMT

    @ zenboomerang, of course there are exceptional circumstances allowing for players like Symonds, Strauss & Khawaja who move at young ages and learn their skills elsewhere. I should clarify my earlier statement with that I don't like the idea of athletes learning their trades (and even representing their state or country at junior levels) in their birth country then moving to represent another. I find the concept baffling; how Trott for instance could choose to play for England when he would surely be picked for SA, I couldn't. There was an anecdote from Ed Cowan who recalled Kevin Pietersen saying "I'm not English, I just work for them" (or words to that effect).

  • zenboomerang on December 7, 2011, 5:12 GMT

    @HatsforBats... "I'm more of the opinion that you should play for the country of your birth"... I agree with that to some extent - if you spend your whole earlier years in that country (0-18), but many new-Aussies come out as children... Khawaja was around 4 years old so his memories are of Oz... gum trees, sun & surf, etc... plus his family immigrated - so to them Oz is home... What about all our olympic athletes in Oz who moved here for a better life?... Or refugees running from persecution... As far as Brownlie is concerned I see Aust & NZ as sister states... We can move freely between each country without work visas & set up home in either country without any bias... Hardly much more complicated than moving from Tasmania to the mainland...

  • Meety on December 7, 2011, 2:34 GMT

    @Mark Forrest - just as long as you take Quade Cooper! LOL!!!!!!

  • Chris_P on December 7, 2011, 1:57 GMT

    Actually, good luck to him. I saw the first test and he looked the most accomplished of the Kiwi batsmen. At least the Aussie cricket system is working! If our system couldn't recognize him, them all the best for him in his endeavours to be a test player. Our loss is definitely NZ's gain! It's not like he was poached, he does look the goods, although I may wait till to see how he goes on pitches that don't bounce and without pace, unlike WA & the Gabba pitches. But technically, he does look good.

  • RandyOZ on December 7, 2011, 1:19 GMT

    Cricketersd these days mainly come from 3 countries: SA, india and Oz. Everyone else just plunders the resources from these countries. We seriously need to put a stop to it.

  • Meety on December 6, 2011, 23:23 GMT

    @Richard Lambert - I think it is also proof that the Ozzy Grade system is fairly strong.

  • dummy4fb on December 6, 2011, 22:52 GMT

    The Aussies can keep Russell Crowe. They can take Steve Williams too if they like

  • HatsforBats on December 6, 2011, 22:21 GMT

    @ davidpk; Brad Thorne. There certainly is a lot of bed hopping in league/union, though I'm more of the opinion that you should play for the country of your birth (probably because I can't imagine feigning such love or loyalty to another) and I hope cricket doesn't reach the same levels.

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