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He got suspended from school for watching World Cup!

February 19, 2015 10:38 IST

Grant Elliott

Grant Elliott of New Zealand celebrates. Photograph: Rob Jefferies/Getty Images

Watching the 1992 World Cup got New Zealand's Grant Elliott suspended from school but also set him on the path to a career as a professional cricket.

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Twenty-three years on and the all-rounder has the 2015 version of the global showpiece to thank for bringing an end to a two-year suspension of his international career.

Elliott was a wide-eyed 12-year-old South African school boy watching on television the last time the World Cup was held in New Zealand and Australia.

He had been given permission by his mother to take the day off school to watch his country of birth make their return from international sporting isolation.

Unfortunately, his school had not been told.

"I got suspended from school and from cricket that week for it," Elliott told the Dominion Post newspaper last month after he had been the surprise selection in New Zealand's World Cup squad.

Shifted to New Zealand in 2001

From left, Tim Southee, Grant Elliott and Trent Boult share a laugh

From left, Tim Southee, Grant Elliott and Trent Boult share a laugh. Photograph: Martin Hunter/Getty Images

"But the tournament left quite an impression on me. It was then that I decided I wanted to be a professional cricketer."

A talented batting all-rounder, Elliott attended St Stithians College in Johannesburg, which has also produced fellow international cricketers Michael Lumb and Jonathan Trott.

Elliot was born and bred in South Africa but a contractual dispute with Gauteng and a desire to play international cricket saw him shift to New Zealand in 2001.

He made his international debut against England in a Test match in Napier in 2008 but developed more of a reputation in the limited overs game.

He had been in line to be selected for the last World Cup, having spent nine months in the team, but was surprisingly not taken to India, with James Franklin and Jacob Oram the all-rounders.

Water cooler moment

Grant Elliott

Grant Elliott of New Zealand warms. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Elliott spent all of 2013 back in the team but was then discarded after the tour of Sri Lanka before he became the selection discussed around office water-coolers last month.

Many had expected Jimmy Neesham to be named with Corey Anderson as the recognised all-rounders in the team.

Neesham's Test form, however, was not translating into the limited overs format, while the decision not to include the controversial Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum's subsequent move to the top of the order opened the number five spot.

Coach Mike Hesson had said he wanted at least one of the top five to be able to bowl a few overs and Elliott's form in domestic cricket and his experience in Australasian conditions tipped it in his favour.

His career batting average in 60 matches is a touch under 34, but in New Zealand it is 47.36 and even better in Australia, where he averages 52.50.

He also memorably scored a 61 not out in early 2009 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground - the venue for next month's final - that highlighted the calm and composed manner in which he could end games.

Since his return to the side he has scored 344 runs at an average of 57.33, including one century and one half century and was now relishing being back in the side.

"I set my sights really high previously and put a little bit of pressure on myself," he said.

"It's now about enjoying it and that comes with experience."

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