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Who Are the Black Players Who Played Cricket for England?

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Cricket is a largely white sport in England. If you aren’t aware of the game’s history, you might think that black players never played cricket. That said, only 21 have pulled on the Three Lions shirts. This blog post tells you who the black cricket players for England are. 

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1. Roland Butcher 

In 1980/81, Roland Butcher became the first black cricket player to play for England. He was born in Barbados but moved to England when he was 14. Coincidentally, his first game for Three Lions was played in his birth country during the tour of the West Indies. 

The batsman played three test matches and One Day Internationals (ODI) for England. At the domestic level, he represented Middlesex. After a 16-year career, Butcher retired and transitioned into coaching. 

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2. Norman Cowans 

Norman Cowans is another black cricket player who played for England. Born in Jamaica, he moved to England at 11. He made his debut for the team when he was 21 years old during a test match in Melbourne in 1982/83. He was the 500th cricketer to wear the England uniform. In his career, Norman played 19 test matches and 15 ODIs. Post-retirement, he became a businessman and DeeJays in his spare time. 

3. Wilf Slack 

Wilf Slack went to England when he was 11 years. He was spotted by Middlesex playing age-group cricket in Buckinghamshire. In 1985/86, he was handed his debut in a match against the West Indies. 

Despite all the promise he’d shown, he only played three tests and two ODIs for the Three Lions. Wilf Slack scored 13,950 runs, made 25 centuries, and 21 wickets. In 1989, the cricket world was thrown into shock following his death. 

He collapsed and died while playing cricket in the Gambia. To honor him, he was buried in an England blazer and a bat.

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4. Gladstone Small

Born in Barbados, Gladstone Small relocated to England at 14. He made his test debut in 1986 against New Zealand and his ODI debut the following year against Australia. 

One of the biggest moments in his career came in 1986/87 when he finally got a chance to play after being overlooked a couple of times. He played so well that he was awarded the man of the match. In his career, he played 17 test matches and 53 ODIs. He retired in 1999.

5. Phil DeFreitas

Phil DeFreitas is one of the most successful black cricket players for England. He played 44 test matches and more than 100 ODIs after his debut in 1986/87. By the time he retired, he’d made over 1,000 wickets, 10 centuries, and ranked 30th on England’s Men all-time test wicket takers. 

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6. David Lawrence

David Lawrence’s career as an England cricketer was cut short by injury. He made his debut in 1988, and only four years into it, he suffered a career-ending injury. He’d shown so much promise and would be a significant player, but sport can be cruel sometimes. He made a brief comeback for the Gloucestershire, but afterwards, he was done with cricket.

7. Devon Malcolm

Malcolm delivered one of the best games for England in the 1990s, a period when little was happening for the Three Lions. That said, he was not a one-hit-wonder. He left the sport as the third-best English batsman. He played in 40 test matches, 10 ODIs, scored 236 test runs, and took 128 wickets.

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8. Chris Lewis

It’s always a shame when a talented player doesn’t live up to all the hype around him. This was Chris Lewis. Despite his abilities, he didn’t become a prolific player in an England shirt. 

He was embroiled in a lot of controversy, which critics argue derailed his game. Apart from that, he found himself in the cold after he gave away the names of England cricketers who participated in match-fixing. That’s how his career fizzled out. 

9. Monte Lynch

Monte Lynch is one of the black cricket players who played for England. He only represented them in three test matches in 1988. Due to sub-par performance, he never made it into the team again. That said, he had a good career at the domestic level, where he played for Surrey and Gloucestershire

10. Neil Williams

Neil Williams played for Middlesex in the 1980s and was part of a very successful side. Two of his biggest moments in the game were going up against Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammed Azharuddin in 1990. Those were the only test matches he played. Unfortunately, he died in 2006, aged 43, from pneumonia.

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11. Joey Benjamin

Joey, one of the black cricket players for England, first played for the team at the age of 33. He was so good in the match against South Africa in 1994. Unfortunately for him, Devon Malcolm outperformed him, ending his international career. Joey played only two ODIs for the Three Lions. He passed on in 2021 from a heart attack.

12. Mark Alleyne

At 18, he’d scored his first century. Such was the talent of Mark Alleyne that he represented England in 10 ODI matches. In 2000, he was also named a Widen’s Cricketers of the Year. After his professional career, Alleyne became the first black head coach to lead a team in county cricket in England. He coached Gloucestershire and MCC. 

13. Mark Butcher

Mark Butcher is one of the most successful black cricket players for England. Like his father, he did well on the international stage and even bettered him. He played 71 test matches for England, scored 4,288 runs, and caught 15 wickets. His international career was cut short by injuries, and he was forced to retire in 2009. Today, he works as a commentator for Sky Sports and TalkSPORT.

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14. Dean Headley

Headley comes from a sporting family. His father and grandfather played cricket. That said, he had a relatively successful career. Headley played 15 test matches and 13 ODIs. One of his memorable moments was when he recorded three hattricks playing to Kent. He retired in 2001 due to a chronic back injury.

15. Alex Tudor

Alex made his England debut in 1998/99 and was one of those players people longed to watch. He’s best remembered for his 99-not-out score against New Zealand. Unfortunately, that was all fans saw from him as injuries hampered him. He represented England in 10 test matches and 3 ODIs.   

16. Ebony Rainford-Brent

A multitalented athlete, Ebony Rainford-Brent became the first black woman to play cricket for England. She achieved this in 2001 at the age of 17. However, she went for two years without playing for England due to a back injury but managed to return. 

In 2009, Ebony Rainford-Brent won the ICC Women’s World Cup and the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. She now works as a commentator for BBC and Sky Sports. She’s also the Director of Women’s Cricket in Surrey. Ebony is using her platform to bring in more black players in the game

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17. Michael Carberry

Michael joins the list of black cricket players to play for England. His career was hampered mainly by illness. In 2010, he was diagnosed with a blood clot in the lungs. In 2016, he was found to have a cancerous tumour. Although he continued playing after that, he eventually retired. Michael played six test matches for England.

18. Chris Jordan

Chris Jordan is one of the best bowlers in T20 cricket. He moved to England through a sports scholarship. He played county cricket for Surrey and Sussex. Internationally, he played 34 ODIs and eight tests for England. After his England career, he’s been heavily involved in the Big Bash League, Indian Premier League, and the Caribbean Premier League.

19. Tymal Mills

Tymal Mills is currently a player for the England cricket team. He was part of the team at the 2021 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. One of his arsenal in his cricket game is his speedy bowling. This was the thing that made him stand out. Mills plays in the Indian Premier League for the Mumbai Indians

20. Sophia Dunkley

Sophia Dunkley currently represents England’s women’s cricket team. She made her cricket debut in 2021 against West Indies and her first ODI start in the same year against India. She began playing cricket in school and plays in the Indian Women’s Cricket League with the Gujarat Giants.  

21. Jofra Archer

Jofra Archer has established himself as a reliable player for England. In 2019, he delivered one of the best moments in the history of England’s cricket. His bowl during the Cricket World Cup won the Three Lions tournament at Lord’s. Archer plays in the South African T20 and the Indian Premier League for the Mumbai Indians.

Those are the 21 black cricket players who’ve played for England. If you’d like to read more about the England cricket team, you can get some books on Amazon.  

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Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi is a sports enthusiast who enjoys sharing sports knowledge. Over the years, she has also written on different niches, and she now brings that experience at Spotcovery. She writes sports content and also, Arts & Culture, Recipe, Beauty and more.


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