Scoring a maiden century during his eighth test, Perth-born Dean Brownlie is a humble hero to emerge from New Zealand’s recent disappointing test series against South Africa
After first innings collapses in the first two tests against South Africa, Dean’s 109 and 53 runs in the second innings of both matches follows on from his excellent first class average of 44, including seven centuries and 11 fifties from 34 matches.
Bringing up his first test ton with two sixes off spinner Robin Peterson was an unreal experience for Dean, who fought hard for his earlier runs.
“I wouldn’t have dreamed that [century] against my heroes and guys for the last 10 years who have dominated cricket, so it’s been amazing,” Dean told reporters.
According to captain Brendan McCullum, “Dean was brilliant. [His century] was a high quality innings and hopefully will be the start of a very successful career for him.”
After an unusual career move from Perth to New Zealand in 2009 courtesy of his father’s nationality, the steely middle-order batsman, who has been compared to Steve Waugh, was a century-maker on first class debut for Canterbury.
After just 11 months in first class cricket, he joined the NZ side and became one of only three Kiwis to score half centuries in their first three tests, joining NZ greats Bert Sutcliffe and John Reid. In the 2011 test series against Australia, he was the leading run scorer.
Making the most of his sporting talent has always been a top priority for Dean, who played for WA football club West Perth and was an AFL prospect, but he admits sport became too high a priority.
Raised by Christian parents, Dean preferred sport on Sundays as he felt church simply “got in the way” until he heard a remarkable message at a friend’s church in 2008.
“I always believed in God but always struggled in giving my heart to Him until I heard a preacher speak on doing great things for God,” Dean recalls.
“I was cruising through life but always felt God had something really special planned for my life.”
Now etched on his heart is the Bible passage he heard that day: “I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here I am! Send me’ ” (Isaiah 6:8).
“It was then I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ and submitted to Him as King over my life and Saviour from my sins.
“It wasn’t until I understood that God was my priority and sport was something He could use through me that cricket really flourished.”
Then aged 24, Dean says that for the next six months, “God placed a move to New Zealand on my heart,” before he hit another obstacle a month after this step of faith.
Struggling badly with illness and unsure about staying in New Zealand, Dean says that God confirmed it again.
Along with a daily regimen of Bible reading and prayer, Dean recalls, “I asked God whether He wanted me in NZ, even if it was not for cricket.
“The first page of my devotional book was titled ‘Holy fools’ and referred to God’s blessing on Abraham, “Go from your country and family… to the land I will show you… I will bless you… so that you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:1-2)
“After reading this I knew I was meant to stay and was truly blessed.”
Reported to be a ‘cool, calm and collected’ style of player” by teammate BJ Watling, Dean says that the key to his approach is trusting in Jesus Christ, whose promises have been confirmed by experience.
“As a born again believer I have a confidence that God has a plan for my life,” Dean concludes.
“No matter the opposition or result I am confident that God wants me here (in New Zealand) glorifying His name.”