Falcons' loss is Kiwi gain

John Townsend

Dean Brownlie's decision to give up a promising football career with West Perth to concentrate on cricket has been vindicated after he made a half-century in his successful Test debut for New Zealand this week.

Brownlie, 27, played colts and reserves with the Falcons and dreamed of playing for West Coast but opted for cricket in his early 20s after being a regular selection in State junior teams.

A steady performer in club ranks for Mt Lawley but never a player who ventured on to the WACA's radar, Brownlie moved to New Zealand in 2009 after discovering he could qualify for the Black Caps because his father Jim was born in Christchurch. The powerful batsman has since been a strong performer for Canterbury and New Zealand A and was called up to make his Test debut in the one-off match against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo this week.

He made a century on first-class debut for Canterbury and, batting at No.6 this week, struck 63 in New Zealand's run feast at Queens Sports Club. He then claimed 1-13 in Zimbabwe's first innings.

Brownlie recently said he had no qualms about representing his adopted country and was not disappointed at his lack of opportunities in WA.

"To play international cricket would be a dream for me, especially for New Zealand," he said. "I consider myself very much a Kiwi."

Brownlie was steered to New Zealand by Mark O'Neill, the country's former batting coach who played for WA and NSW and is now working with Middlesex.

Brownlie is the third WACA club cricketer to play for the Black Caps.

Former South Perth batsman Aaron Redmond, whose father Rod famously made 107 and 56 in his sole Test before moving to Perth, played seven Tests in 2008.

And former Fremantle all-rounder Tama Canning played four one-dayers for New Zealand midway through last decade.