Cricket: Otago allrounder Dean Foxcroft closes on Blackcaps selection as latest South Africa-born hopeful

As the latest South African targeting a Blackcaps spot, Otago allrounder Dean Foxcroft hardly has to look far for inspiration. 

At just 24, Foxcroft has begun to regularly stand out at provincial level, as he aspires to qualify for his adopted home.

A COVID-enforced exile, when he was stranded in South Africa for two years, has slowed Foxcroft's quest to play for New Zealand, but selection for the 'A' side against Australia 'A' shows he's on the right track.

He's hardly the first South Africa-born player to try his luck playing for another country, but at this time in their cricketing trajectory, he could be exactly what the Blackcaps are crying out for.

A capable batter, Foxcroft scored his maiden first class century at the end of February, with 159 runs against Wellington, while providing a genuine option with the ball.

In 16 first class matches, the offspinner has taken 28 wickets - in unfavourable Kiwi conditions - at an at average of just over 20.

What's more, Foxcroft was one of the top performers in this year's Twenty20 Super Smash, topping the run charts with 424 at an average of 47, along with nine wickets at 20.66.

ICC regulations mean he needs another season in New Zealand before he's available for the national side - a process his South African stranding hindered.

With his aspirations to play for the Blackcaps over South Africa dating back to his teenage years, Foxcroft isn't changing his tune.  

"I think it was 2015, when I played the U19 World Cup and played against New Zealand," Foxcroft told Newshub.

"I made a lot of friends who I'm still friends with now. It was about making sure I'm coming over to play club cricket and enjoy it.

"From day one, I've loved New Zealand - love the culture, love the people. Since then, I've called it home and [I'm] enjoying every moment of it.

"Hopefully, I can stay here for the future."

Dean Foxcroft bowls for Otago.
Dean Foxcroft bowls for Otago. Photo credit: Photosport

Foxcroft wouldn't be the first transplanted player called upon either. Devon Conway is a mainstay atop the NZ order in all three formats, while bowler Neil Wagner has been a key to the Blackcaps' test success over the past decade.

Grant Elliott's name will forever go down in Kiwi sporting folklore for his 2015 Cricket World Cup heroics, while the likes of Chad Bowes and Michael Rippon have recently made their first appearances in black. 

Others to make the move were BJ Watling and Glenn Phillips, after relocating as children.

Those who have gone before him give Foxcroft all the inspiration he needs to emulate his countrymen. 

"You can see the likes of Devon Conway and Neil Wagner, who've come through the steps, through the ranks," he continued.

"For me, it's about just making sure I'm doing what I need to do to be at that level, just enjoy it and be competitive.

"Hopefully, one day I can do the same."

Meanwhile, Foxcroft is in good company among New Zealand 'A' ranks. Of the 15-strong squad to face Australia 'A', six have already played for the Blackcaps, including captain Tom Bruce and spinner Ajaz Patel.

Dean Foxcroft.
Dean Foxcroft. Photo credit: Getty Images

With a core of Australian players hoping to press their cases for Ashes selection this year, the two four-day matches won't be a walk in the park. 

"Like everyone here, I just want to play at the highest level," continued Foxcroft. "For me, it's about making sure I'm enjoying every day and learning as much as possible.

"It's a good challenge for every one of us, playing a tough opposition. For us, it's about making sure we do the right thing, enjoy it, have a lot of fun and be competitive."