Had life panned out differently, Steve Crook could potentially have played for the country whose attack he despatched to all parts of Northampton’s county ground on Saturday.
The 32-year-old allrounder, who put the touring team to the sword with 142no from 96 balls with 24 boundaries and four sixes, earned a reputation as a promising young talent while growing up in South Australia.
Born in Adelaide to British parents, Crook represented his home state at Under-17 and Under-19 levels, impressing enough to earn himself a prestigious place at the Cricket Australia Academy alongside Shaun Marsh, Shaun Tait, Mark Cosgrove, Cameron White, Xavier Doherty and George Bailey.
"We had quite a good crop of players," Crook said following his innings.
"It's interesting to see how those guys have developed and gone on to play all over the world.
"They've got a good team, a good attack ... I really enjoyed it."
Crook’s cricketing life took a different turn in 2002, when the teenager took his British passport, packed his bags and headed to the United Kingdom to try his hand at County cricket – and ended up staying after earning himself a professional contract.
Crook, who did not play a first-class game in Australia before his move overseas, had his first taste of the County game in Lancashire, but after limited opportunities, made a permanent move to Northamptonshire in 2006.
After injury curtailed his ambitions at the club, Crook walked away from cricket at the end of the 2009 season, but his hiatus was a short one – in 2011, he signed with Middlesex and cemented himself in their limited-overs sides.
It was a yearning for red-ball cricket that led Crook back to Northamptonshire, where he has since become a key part of the club’s set-up and title ambitions.
While Crook was the cause of great frustration for a bowling attack featuring Mitchell Marsh, Peter Siddle, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Fawad Ahmed on Saturday, it is not the first time he has been credited with causing Australia pain.
Combining a love of cricket with a passion for music, Crook is the lead singer for the band ‘Juliet the Sun’ whose 2005 song ‘Time for Heroes’ was credited with helping inspire England to their drought-breaking 2005 Ashes victory.
Crook and his band earned widespread fame around the UK that summer, as tabloid newspaper The Sun reported James Anderson and Monty Panesar had been blasting the song in the change room between sessions to pump up their teammates.
However, it was his prowess with the bat, not microphone, that had the Australians talking on Saturday.
After play, Lyon joked that it was worth checking if Crook still held an Australian passport.
"You've got to give credit where credit is due. Crook played an unbelievable innings," he said.
"We probably didn't bowl our best, and in these games the batters tend to play with a lot more freedom and no fear, so they took their chances and he hit them pretty well."
Mitch Marsh has underlined his importance to Australia with a four-wicket haul in Northampton, but an Aussie-born allrounder stole the show on day two