Due to the evergreen presence of Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis as fast bowling all-rounders in the South African side, Ryan McLaren's chances of playing international cricket were blocked for a long time. His debut against Zimbabwe in 2009 came at the relatively older age of 26, and it turned out to be an unimpressive one.
Being an experienced domestic player, selectors persisted with McLaren to come good, handing him T20 and Test outings. McLaren's most impressive displays came in the emerging T20 format while on tour to West Indies when he took a five-fer, helping South Africa clinch the series 2-0. As a Kolpak player, he signed for Kent and helped them bag the 2007 Twenty20 final with a fantastic hat-trick. Then in 2009, an IPL contract with Mumbai came knocking on his door, a jackpot which many cricketers envy, though he failed to make any notable contribution in the lucrative tournament. He then went on to represent Punjab, followed by Kolkata in 2013 for the sixth edition.
Just when McLaren's career seemed to dwindle and find a habitat in the T20 format, as a freelance cricketer, ever-ready to represent any team that needed a foreign import, McLaren's career took a u-turn and in the right direction. Jacques Kallis' decision to isolate himself from the shorter formats in 2012, running into 2013, helped Ryan McLaren return to the Protea side in January 2013 and he made the most of it ending up as the highest wicket-taker for South Africa in 2013. McLaren's next aim will be to wipe-off the tag of a one-Test wonder, having played his only Test against England in 2010.