Monday, 28 February 2011

National Identity Part Three

OK, third time lucky. I've already written two blogs in a matter of minutes about nationality and such, and missed the point I wanted to make. So this time, I'm definitely going to mention it.

In doing my research for the one of the earlier blogs about George Dockrell (yes, I do research sometimes), I stumbled across this. "Birth Country No Bar at the CWC". I suggest you read it, as it's far more interesting than anything you'd read on this site.

The nations at the World Cup can be (and have been, many times) split into two camps - the Big Boys and the Minnows. Players will want to play for the Big Boys, because it increases their chance of success, and for associate players, increases their chance of playing in tests. (As well as a heap of other reasons, seen in the second of my three-parter) And every nation will want to best players at their disposal to play for them.

So Big Boys England have recruited Trott and Pietersen (as well as Irish Joyce and Morgan turning out for them as well). South Africa have got Imran Tahir in. And New Zealand got Grant Elliot (must be gutted that Tendulkar doesn't have a second-cousin in Dunedin). They are able to attract players who are good enough to be playing internationally for their nations of birth for whatever reason to play for them.

The Minnows, however, have it differently. As seen with the Morgan / Joyce / Dockrell issue, the associates will struggle to keep hold of their best and brightest. So they will look to find anyone with even the slightest heritage of the nation, or the slightest inclination to live in their country for an allotted time. Hence the Indian and Pakistani Canadian side, South African heavy Dutch, and antipodean Irish team.

While I, and plenty others don't like it, it's in the ICC rules for players to move around, so countries are well within their rights to get in the foreign legion. It shouldn't be, but that's by the by.

Of course it must be difficult for Ireland and the rest to see their best players being lured away by the bright lights of test cricket. So with smaller player pools and their best local talents being lost, no wonder they're turning overseas. Add on top of that the advantages that having good experienced imports can bring.

Cricket Ireland's Barry Chambers said
"In Ireland's case, the players have helped to take Irish cricket to a new level... The players brought a professionalism to the game which has rubbed off on the younger players coming through. Ireland keep producing real gems - Eoin Morgan before he switched to England"

And Dutch Ed van Neirop said players from overseas had lifted the standard of cricket "enormously".

While this could be stopping local talent from emerging, it could also be improving the skills of the guys around and helping them compete. It's a difficult situation. The Minnows want to keep their best players, and their best players want to play for the Big Boys.

There are three groups of adopted nation-ites. Group 1 - the foreign national brought in to improve a side (see here Trott, Pietersen, Trent Johnston). Group 2 - the associate player who wants more (see here Morgan, Joyce). And Group 3 (the "have your cake and eat it" bunch) - the guys from the big nations who aren't picked for their country, but try and get picked at home. (see here Dirk Nannes playing for Holland in the 2009 T20 World Cup before playing for Australia). Were I in charge of the ICC, I'd immediately outlaw all of 1, 2 and 3, but sadly I'm unlikely to become president in the next few years, so the situation will continue. The foreign legion in cricket is a growing problem, and ultimately devalues the notion of "inter-nation" cricket.

I don't really know what to say about this anymore, I've been writing about players applying for new passports solidly for a few hours now, and I have nothing else to add. So there's my conclusion - inter-nation cricket should be between the people of one nation and another. Not people of various countries all wearing one shirt, facing off against a team of players for other disparate countries wearing another.

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