CricX is delighted to announce Upper Hutt United Cricket Club’s signing of German international Dylan Blignaut for the 2023/24 season.

Blignaut is an accomplished batting all-rounder who has quickly become a key performer for the German national team, with whom he debuted in August 2021.

In only his third match, he produced a man-of-the-match performance against Spain, taking 2-22 (4) and guiding his side to victory with an undefeated 47 from 38 balls. He hasn’t looked back, and in October 2021, was a stand-out in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifiers helping Germany through to the final stages for their first time in history. In their final match against Italy, Blignaut became the 21st man in T20 internationals to take a hat-trick on his way to figures of 4-18.

His selection was courtesy of not only his German Passport but his exploits in both the UK and Australia in recent years. The South African-born batting all-rounder excelled for Brighton Districts in the Victorian Turf Cricket Association, and Cricket Southern Bayside competitions in Melbourne (2015/16-18/19), before success in the UK and Ireland for Walshaw (Greater Manchester Cricket League – 2017), Penzance (Cornwall Premier League – 2018-19), The Hills (Leinster League – 2021-22), and Ibstock Town (Leicestershire and Rutland League – 2023).

Arguably Blignaut’s best UK season came in the GMCL for Walshaw in 2017. He was the league’s Premier all-rounder, finishing inside the top 10 run and wicket-takers. His 812 runs at 42.74 included 3 centuries – the most in the Premier League. He finished 5th on the run charts behind ex Lancs/Derbyshire’s Gareth Cross (754), Johan Wessels (687), Usman Tariq (677), and Somila Seyibokwe (676), who all enjoyed more innings. With the ball, he again excelled, taking 53 wickets at 17.85 to finish 9th on the wicket charts, ahead of several notable first-class professionals.

In Australia, his four seasons produced 2,173 runs at 49.39 and 84 wickets at 17.96. In his first season (2015/16), Blignaut topped the division run charts (593 runs at 74.13) alongside 21 wickets at 21. He scored four centuries (157*, 114*, 103, 102*) from only 12 knocks and finished third on the VTCA run charts across all grades, marginally behind ex Windies batter Brenton Parchment and Praneth Jayasundera (Sri Lanka A) and ahead of several notable ex first-class stars including Matthew Innes (Northants, WA, VIC) and Gihan Dilruk (Saracens). He continued to excel since, with season tallies of 498 runs at 35.57 and 18 wickets at 15.28 (2016/17), 625 runs at 56.82 and 25 wickets at 18.44 (2017/18), 457 runs at 41.55, and 18 wickets at 16.44 (2018/19).

Blignaut’s move to Australia followed two prior stints in England (Vauxhall Mallards 2014; Shobrooke Park 2015) and a glittering junior career in South Africa’s Eastern Province. Regarded by many as a future Protea, Blignaut earned 58 caps for the prestigious Grey High School, one of the top cricketing schools in the country, alongside 34 caps for Eastern Provincial age-group sides.

He was an automatic selection at every age-group representative side up to, and including the Under-19s. Throughout his youth, his bowling was perhaps his stronger suit, albeit, over the past 24 months, his explosive batting has taken priority. Blignaut topped the wicket charts for Eastern Province during the 2012/13 CSA Under-17 Week – finishing fifth overall with 14 wickets at 10.78. His success culminated with not only the Eastern Province “Schools Cricketer of the Year” award but also selection, as captain of the South African Schools 3-Day Squad.

Blignaut finished his school career only 3 matches behind Graeme Pollock’s milestone as the highest capped first-team player in the 157-year history of Grey High School (other Old Grey’s include the likes of Dave Callaghan, Johan Botha, Rusty Theron, Wayne Parnell, and Colin Ackermann).

Over the years, Blignaut has attended many high-performance clinics for the top SA juniors hosted by Ray Jennings, Alan Donald and he receives regular correspondence from Gary Kirsten who was his SA team coach. He has also been a regular guest at Highveld Lions training sessions where Blignaut continues to be held in high regard.

Blignaut finished school then headed to play in England in 2014 for Vauxhall Mallards in the strong East Anglian Premier League. Whilst he didn’t set the world alight (206 runs at 14.71 and 17 wickets at 33.35), he showed plenty of promise in a League widely regarded as one of the strongest ECB Premier competitions in the country. He returned to Northern shores in 2015 to play in the B Division of the Devon Cricket League. Playing for Shobrooke Park, he scored 387 runs and took 31 wickets in the league. He also excelled in the North Devon League, slamming a highest score of 120 against Holsworthy.

Despite receiving full bursaries from UCT and NMMU (the top University team in SA), due to politics and the quota system, he headed to Australia for the 2015/16 winter and hasn’t looked back, racking up runs and wickets in Australia, the UK, and last season in Ireland.

He was a late pick-up by Leinster League club The Hills in 2021, but unsurprisingly Blignaut impressed hitting 273 runs at 34.13 alongside 18 wickets at 18.94. Given his success, both on and off the field, he returned to the Irish club for a second stint in 2022. He continued to excel hitting 731 runs at 43 and taking 39 wickets at 17.15.

We wish Dylan and everyone at Upper Hutt United all the best for their upcoming campaign.