I’ve made up my mind – David Bedingham picks South Africa over England

Durham’s David Bedingham is making it his mission to win a Test call-up for his native South Africa, putting an end to speculation that he is hanging on to qualify for England.

Bedingham is about to start his fourth season at Chester-le-Street, meaning another two years of residency would allow him to switch allegiance and pursue an international career with England.

There is no doubt he has the game for it, averaging 48.92 in the first-class arena and a shade more across 30 appearances for Durham.

Back in 2021, his first full season in the county game, he was nominated alongside Joe Root for PCA player of the year.

But with his 29th birthday hovering into view next month, Bedingham is unwilling to let his peak years pass without giving his all to make it on the biggest stage.

While a British passport is still on the agenda as he and partner Jenna look to settle in the United Kingdom, he is clear that his professional priorities lie with the Proteas.

“I’d qualify as a local here in another two years but by that stage I’ll be 31, and while I’d still have some time left I think my best years are now,” he told the PA news agency at the Seat Unique Riverside.

“That’s why I’m committed to playing for South Africa, I’ve made up my mind. Another two years just seems too late.

“If I am doing well and scoring runs and I can’t play for England or South Africa, that’s just a waste. I’m not sure if I’ll do well at that level, nobody can be sure, but I want to give myself that chance.

“You don’t want to be 33 looking back wishing you’d given it a shot rather than waiting, waiting, waiting and finding your best years are gone.

“It’s about saying I gave it a shot. Just getting to that stage and seeing if I can handle the pressure, the glamour, the lights.”

Bedingham admits Brexit has played a part in his thinking, with changes to employment law seeing a handful of high-profile South Africans in county cricket returning to the international fold.

“It’s been frustrating. Because I’ve been on an ancestral visa and I almost signed as Kolpak player before Brexit happened. I think a lot of the South African public, and maybe the selectors, thought ‘oh, he’s English now’,” he said.

If I can’t play for England or South Africa it’s a waste. It’s about saying I gave it a shot. Just getting to the that stage and seeing If I can handle the pressure, the glamour, the lights

David Bedingham

“But as soon as Brexit happened it changed things, for people like Duanne Olivier, Simon Harmer, Wayne Parnell. I was planning to stay here my whole life basically but things happened, Brexit happened, and it opens up other doors. I think everyone is aware now that I wasn’t so it’s up to me to enjoy myself and score some runs.”

Bedingham recalls allowing himself to entertain the idea of turning out for his adopted nation while socialising with friends from club cricket but is now dreaming of facing off against his county colleagues rather than playing alongside them.

“I’ve got a lot of friends in Nottingham, where I played in 2013/14, I went back over in 2019 and we were speaking about playing at Trent Bridge in England shirts, singing the national anthem…but that was the beer talking,” he added with a smile.

“I would love to play (for South Africa) against lads like Ben Stokes, Matthew Potts and Brydon Carse. Maybe not Woody (Mark Wood), he’s a bit quick! That’s an exciting thing to think about it.”

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