Aotearoa is a welcoming place. Most of us do our best to pay ultimate respects to those who found Aotearoa and in all honesty, that's the least we can do as most of our ancestors got a bit mean and nasty when immigrating (nicely put) to this wonderful land. When thinking of kiwi cricket, kiwi-Indians tend to stand out as offering some glorious diversity to the cricketing landscape and now we've got enough Kiwi-Africans (born in Africa) to build a Kiwi-African cricket team.
Just on the diversity first though; we kinda overlook the fact that one of Aotearoa's greatest batsmen ever holds it down for Polynesians in kiwi cricket. Ross Taylor is Samoan and there's a low key strong history of Polynesian cricketers in Aotearoa, although this could be a lot better at the moment and I'm predicting that we'll see far more Maori and Polynesian cricketers work their way through the domestic set up in the coming years - yes that's a prediction and it will be fun to revisit that in a few years.
Ish Sodhi (Inderbir Singh Sodhi) - Ludhiana, India | Aotearoa/Northern Districts via Auckland.
Jeetan Patel (Jeetan Shashi Patel) - Wellington | Aotearoa/Wellington.
Ajaz Patel (Ajaz Yunus Patel) - Mumbai, India | Central Districts via Auckland.
Tarun Nethula (Tarun Sai Nethula) - Kurnool, India | Aotearoa/Auckland.
Jeet Raval (Jeet Ashok Raval) - Gujarat, India | Aotearoa/Auckland.
Bharat Popli - New Delhi, India | Northern Districts.
Anurag Verma - Hamilton | Wellington via Northern Districts.
Aniket Parikh (Aniket Arpon Parikh) - Gujarat, India | Auckland.
Raja Sandhu (Rajvinder Singh Sandhu) - Auckland | Auckland.
Navin Patel (Navin Arun Patel) - Birmingham, England | Central Districts.
While we have enjoyed a strong kiwi-African presence over the past few years, strong enough for many of these blokes to earn Blackcaps selection, there has also been a sneaky young wave emerge that bolsters a kiwi-African XI.
Glenn Phillips has burst on to the domestic circuit with Auckland, Warren Barnes is making a few waves after moving from Auckland to Otago and if you asked the average cricket fan in Aoteaora about Canterbury's Chad Bowes, they probably have no idea that he A) made a move in his early 20s from South Africa to Aotearoa and B) scored plenty of runs last summer.
Of course, we're not only talking about South Africans here either. Colin de Grandhomme came to Aotearoa via Zimbabwe, as did Wellington's leg-spinner Peter Younghusband and Otago's Christi Viljoen has represented Namibia. There's also only one Cachopa brother in this Kiwi-African XI as there's Craig's the only brother still on the domestic circuit and this is only important because in the past, any Kiwi-African XI would have been filled out by having Brad and Carl Cachopa there. Sans two Cachopa brothers and we've still got a strong and deep Kiwi-African XI.
OG Veteran - Grant Elliott
Straight outta Jo'burg, Grant Elliott has been a staple of Aotearoa cricket since making his Blackcaps debut almost a decade ago. Not only is Elliott the perfect bloke for the OG Veteran role thanks to his cricketing experience and exploits, Elliott is the perfect cultural leader for such a team. Elliott has embraced everything about Aotearoa and leads the way in bridging two far-flung locations of Earth, plus now that he's a T20 voyager, Elliott interacts with different cultures and nations more than anyone else; Elliott was recently named in a World T20 team to play in Pakistan which is utterly fantastic.
Coach - Heinrich Malan
Central Districts Stags coach Heinrich Malan gets the coaching gig for our Kiwi-African XI as he has always been righteous in collaborating with the Niche Cache and does a fine job in leading a young Stags outfit. Malan has overseen a transition between an older, grizzly squad to a CD squad that oozes young talent and I'm sensing a slight shift in which domestic associations produce the strongest gang of Blackcaps. Over the past decade this has been Northern Districts, but with a wealth of young talent that are nearing their prime years, many Stags will earn Blackacps selection via CD and Malan has obviously played a role in that.
Glenn Phillips x South Africa
Bat: 36.33 (FC), 30.25 (LA), 39.15 (T20).
Tweet: Whacking boundaries all around the wicket from deliveries others would leave/defend.
Chad Bowes x South Africa
Bat: 28.50 (FC), 40.85 (LA), 27.50 (T20).
Tweet: One of a few youngins' to dominate Plunket Shield batting last summer as veterans did work.
BJ Watling x South Africa
Bat: 44.66 (FC), 37.92 (LA), 24.60 (T20).
Tweet: No wicket-keeping for BJ, he's a top-order bat for us.
Colin Munro x South Africa
Bat: 52.67 (FC), 37.67 (LA), 27.61 (T20).
Ball: 27.30 (FC), 54.50 (LA), 39.41 (T20).
Tweet: The most destructive batsman in domestic cricket, all formats.
Craig Cachopa x South Africa
Bat: 36.63 (FC), 26.42 (LA), 27.54 (T20).
Tweet: Talented cricketer, one to watch this summer as he returns with an Auckland contract.
Colin de Grandhomme x Zimbabwe
Bat: 35.26 (FC), 25.54 (LA), 25.15 (T20).
Ball: 29.65 (FC), 41.74 (LA), 33.50 (T20).
Tweet: 2nd most destructive batsman in domestic cricket, bowls better than Munro.
Donovan Grobbelaar x South Africa
Bat: 26.50 (FC), 25.81 (LA), 22.72 (T20).
Ball: 32.29 (FC), 35.39 (LA), 25.06 (T20).
Tweet: Ultimate utility who has done his job for Auckland without fanfare.
Christi Viljoen x Namibia
Bat: 21.94 (FC), 18.68 (LA), 14.10 (T20).
Ball: 26.19 (FC), 28.78 (LA), 20.88 (T20).
Tweet: Hit 77 and then took 2/55 and 3/58 through three games for Namibia vs Scotland in June.
Neil Wagner x South Africa
Ball: 27.24 (FC), 26.53 (LA), 26.14 (T20).
Tweet: If Wagnut keeps trending upwards, he could finish his Test career as a top-five Aotearoa seamer, ever.
Warren Barnes x South Africa
Ball: 28 (LA), 21.59 (T20).
Tweet: Hostile, hasn't played First-Class cricket yet but we need another angry seamer.
Peter Younghusband x Zimbabwe
Bat: 42 (FC).
Ball: 42.16 (FC).
Tweet: Don't buzz about the batting, it's all about the leg-spin for Mr Younghusband.
12th Man - Shawn Hicks x South Africa
Bat: 20.64 (FC), 13.63 (LA), 10 (T20).
Ball: 55.33 (FC), 37.60 (LA).
Tweet: Up and comer who could flourish with more game time for Otago, under Viljoen/Wagner guidance.
Appreciate the cricket yarns? Hit an ad (just once) to show your support to the Niche Cache.
Or head on over to Patreon and become a Niche Cache Patron - that's for the super GC homies.