Politics July 23, 2008

International chancers ridicule the sport

Should a cricketer be denied an international career by the inconvenience of birth or upbringing? Last week brought us the differing cases of Danish Kaneria and Darren Pattinson. Both are disturbing.

Kaneria is flirting with the idea of qualifying for England if Pakistan continue to ignore him. He denies any immediate intent, of course, but the fact that the thought lives with him betrays the mentality of an opportunist.

Representing your country at international level should be a badge of honour not a badge of convenience. These are tough times in Kaneria's international career but he must choose fight not flight--and both Pakistani and English cricket boards can help with an unequivocal message that any transfer of allegiance will not be welcome.

Pattinson, meanwhile, has flirted with his English heritage to take his career from obscurity to the international arena. The dilemma is not entirely of his making, however. European legislation, a spate of injuries, and a seriously misguided selection policy have thrust him into an uncomfortable controversy.

The concerns of some England cricketers are understandable. What is the point of a national cricket structure if it can be subverted by a stroke of crass opportunism by England's selectors? The ECB will say it is playing by the rules but there are bad laws as well as good ones. People in positions of seniority are paid not only for their adherence to regulations but also for their judgment.

Danish Kaneria may harbour a plan B that sees him join forces with the ECB but he is united with them prematurely in the club of international chancers who ridicule the sport and the cricket fans of their respective countries.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here