Grant Elliott: The South African Who Knocked South Africa Out
Not a lot of people know that the hero of New Zealand's semifinal triumph in the World Cup. Grant Elliott is South African by birth and even played domestic cricket in South Africa.
Name: Grant Elliott. Age: 36. Occupation: Cricketer. Country of birth: South Africa. Best known for: Breaking South African hearts.
Suddenly a shy right-handed batsman has gone from New Zealand's surprise inclusion in their World Cup squad to a household name, pretty much across the world. However, not a lot of people know that Grant Elliott is South African by birth and even played domestic cricket in South Africa before migrating to New Zealand 14 years ago. So effectively, a South African has knocked South Africa out of the 2015 World Cup. (Elliott to Miss Sister's Wedding)
Talking about one of the biggest ironies in world cricket in recent times, Elliott said, "It's sad that I left South Africa when I did, and I had a lot of history there, went to school there, obviously played a little bit of cricket there and have got some good friends. But New Zealand is my home, and I'm pretty stoked to have got New Zealand to the final with that shot at the end."(New Zealand Deserved to Enter Finals: De Villiers)
NDTV World Cup expert and former India captain Sunil Gavaskar summed it up best perhaps, saying, "At least that's one South African who doesn't choke." Elliott, though admitted, "I really did feel the pressure."McCullum Hails New Zealand's Semifinal Win as 'Greatest Moment'
Before this World Cup, if a poll was conducted on the best finisher in world cricket, chances are Grant Elliott's name wouldn't even have featured on the options' list. Things now though are a little different. His unbeaten 73 ball 84 in the first semifinal versus South Africa didn't just take New Zealand to their first World Cup semifinal win in 7 attempts and their maiden final, it also changed the way people look at Elliott.Elliott, Take a Bow: Pietersen
Former India player VVS Laxman told NDTV, "Good players want to put up their hand in situations like these and say, this is an opportunity for me to do something for my country, this is an opportunity for me to actually be a match winner and be a star." (New Zealand in Final)
On Tuesday, a star was indeed born, and to think that he was not even part of the New Zealand ODI team for over 12 months till January this year.
When Elliott hit Dale Steyn for the winning six off the penultimate delivery of the innings, he generated the maximum tweets on Twitter per minute for this match. He was also the second most mentioned Kiwi player during the match on Twitter after Brendon McCullum. That one blow didn't just shatter South Africa's dreams of winning that elusive World Cup title, it also helped Elliott stamp his authority as a cool finisher in world cricket. It's probably the most famous six ever hit at Eden Park. The Man of the Match later admitted, "I was looking to hit that ball for six or four. I was just going to line it up and wherever it was, it was going over the boundary, hopefully." Despite that attitude and the fact that his plan worked to perfection, he made sure to stop and offer the crestfallen Steyn a hand. Elliott lifting a shattered Steyn up will perhaps be the most enduring image of this World Cup.
Gavaskar was all praise for Elliott's winning six that helped New Zealand cross the finish line and notch up a historic win. He told NDTV, "That was a terrific blow because it was the only time in the entire innings against Steyn that he actually moved across towards the off-side, otherwise his backfoot was going outside leg stump and the front foot was just going leg stump to middle stump. He just looked as if he was a little apprehensive, maybe a little scared of Dale Steyn, but when it mattered, his nerves were fantastic and he won the game. So credit to him for the way he batted."
In a team that has the likes of Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson, it's not easy to steal the limelight. Maybe at 36, Elliott has really come into his own. He has 2 centuries and 8 fifties in 66 ODIs, but it's safe to say that his unbeaten 84 vs South Africa at Eden Park will be the knock that will define him, maybe forever.
His superlative performance though has thrown up a personal problem. His sister is getting married on Friday and Elliott will now not be able to attend the ceremony, because the Kiwis are in the final and will have to travel to Melbourne. The semifinal hero, who incidentally is nicknamed Magic, though may not mind that too much. After all, if he can produce an encore in the final, he can maybe not only be part of the first New Zealand group to win a World Cup, but also achieve what every cricketer dreams of - immortality.