End of African era for England
The third Investec Ashes Test will mark the end of an era for English cricket. For the first time since the fourth Test against West Indies in Antigua in 2004, 139 matches ago, England will take the field in a Test match without a player born in southern Africa.
When England returned from Antigua - the match in which Brian Lara broke the world record with his mammoth 400 not out - Johannesburg-born Andrew Strauss, who had been in the squad for the West Indies tour, was selected to open the batting against New Zealand at Lord's. From there, the southern African lineage has run from Strauss, through Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Jonathan Trott, Nick Compton right up to Gary Ballance, who was born in Zimbabwe, unlike the others, who are all South Africa-born.
In total, these six southern African-born players (all batsmen, interestingly) have won 359 caps in that period, scoring 66 centuries. Two of the coaches who capped these players - Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower - were both Zimbabwe internationals, although the latter was born in Cape Town. Strauss, Trott, Pietersen and Prior made up four of England's top seven in 30 Tests between 2009 and Strauss's retirement in 2012.
Ballance has been replaced for the Edgbaston Test by Jonny Bairstow, leaving Ben Stokes as the only player born overseas in an England XI often criticised over the years for the far-flung birthplaces of its charges.
Since Strauss debuted, England have also selected players born in Australia, Ireland, Barbados and even Denmark, while the likes of Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswetter, Jade Dernbach, Stuart Meaker and Jason Roy have all played white-ball cricket, having been born in South Africa. But the selection of English cricketers born in southern Africa is not just an 11-year-old phenomenon, with the likes of Basil D'Oliveira, Allan Lamb and Graeme Hick all born there.