Grant Elliott forces South Africa to count cost of exodus

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Auckland, Mar 25: 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. (Elliot does a Dhoni)

Match Scorecard; World Cup Special; Semi-final schedule

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. (De Villiers, Morkel in tears)

Elliot celebrates after hitting the winning runs in semi-final

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.

'I wasn't enjoying my cricket much there'

"I always wanted to play international cricket," Elliott "I always wanted to play international cricket," Elliott told www.cricket365.

"I wasn't enjoying my cricket that much there, and I just needed a lifestyle change.

"I played for Gauteng, I had a contractual dispute with them, so that triggered me to look elsewhere as well."

In recent years, Elliott has been one of a number of South Africans to play for New Zealand. Wicketkeeper/batsman Kruger van Wyk, who played first-class cricket for Northerns, left for New Zealand after realising that he would never depose Mark Boucher as the Proteas' man behind the stumps.

Van Wyk figured in nine Tests for the Kiwis in 2012 but has not played at the international level since. Left-arm fast bowler Neil Wagner, born in Pretoria, has appeared for the Black Caps in 16 Tests since making his debut in 2012, taking 58 wickets.

He did break into the South Africa set-up on two occasions but only on the margins he was summoned to carry out 12th man duties in two Tests at Centurion. BJ Watling, who was born in Durban but has lived in New Zealand since childhood, is New Zealand's first-choice Test wicket-keeper having played 29 matches since his 2009 debut.

New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum summed-up Elliott's sudden breakthrough to national hero status on Wednesday when he revealed that when 20 players were sent to the scout the Melbourne Cricket Ground in October last year, the all-rounder wasn't even included in the group.

McCullum said Elliott reminded him of the omission after Tuesday's cliffhanger.

"He did say when I saw him at the end 'does this mean I get to come to Melbourne?'," said the captain.

"There's a bit of irony there, I suppose. He's shown how important he is to us so I'm sure he is looking forward to Melbourne."

AFP

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