Michael Jeh August 25, 2009

What's with the lack of ethnic players in Australia?

The nature of Australian pitches lends itself to bigger, stronger physiques dominating senior club cricket
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In an interesting, perhaps even slightly provocative article today, the Sydney Morning Herald raised the issue of whether the Australian cricket team is “too white”.

I hesitated before deciding to writing this piece because I realise it is likely to engender polarised opinions that sometimes descend into unnecessary nationalistic vitriol that moves away from the original debate. I’m hoping that this time, the comments that inevitably flow will avoid the usual temptations to take an entrenched ethnic stance and view it instead as a friendly chat over the neighbour’s wall.

As a dark-skinned Australian who began his cricket career in Australia, I cannot claim any discrimination or disadvantage based on my ethnic background. Any bias that I’ve experienced has been down to the fact that I’ve been limited by this ridiculous obsession with picking the best players! I suffered from simply not being good enough.

The debate is one worth having though. Why has Australia lagged behind say England, South Africa and New Zealand in terms of players from Asian or indigenous origin pulling on the baggy green? I can think of a few very rational reasons to explain this anomaly, especially the Asian angle.

To begin with, many young boys from South Asian backgrounds have family expectations to deal with. Speaking from personal experience, I know that they come under immense pressure to follow academic pathways and ‘safe’ careers rather than chasing exotic cricket dreams. It’s ironic because these same families will watch every game of cricket and worship the stars but for their own sons, there’s a genuine desire to set them on a traditional career pathway that requires an emphasis on study. That will change but it might take a decade or so to show. Don’t ask me why this doesn’t manifest itself in England – I can’t figure that one out myself.

From a pure cricketing perspective, the nature of Australian pitches lends itself to bigger, stronger physiques dominating senior club cricket. You have to be strong and robust enough to hit the deck and get bounce, therefore more suited to the Anglo-Saxon body shape. In England and New Zealand, the nagging medium-pacers and spinners come into their own, thereby opening up the field to bowlers who may lack the pure ‘grunt’ but can do enough with the ball at 125 kph. Australian pitches need to offer more variety full stop. It will automatically create more opportunities for players with different body shapes and techniques. The added bonus is that it will allow our players to adapt better to foreign pitches too.

Put it this way; at 4 pm on a hot summer’s day when the pitch is flat and the ball isn’t swinging, players with my slender physique simply lack the power game to extract that little bit of extra bounce. Where I became cannon fodder late in the day, some of my stronger Aussie mates who were 15 kilos heavier, with strong buttocks and shoulders managed to hit the deck that little bit harder and get something out of the pitch. Ask yourself – how many wiry, Asian fast bowlers consistently dominated in Australia, especially after the new ball burst? Guys like Wasim Akram, Imran Khan, Safraz Nawaz, Kapil Dev and Ishant Sharma are strong chaps with height and bounce.

As a batsman, you need to be able to play the horizontal bat shots in Australia if you are going to make it into the top six of a Sheffield Shield team. Again, that has not traditionally been an Asian strength, although that too is changing slowly. If you can’t score off the short ball, you become too one-dimensional on these pitches. Give it a few years and the young lads from Asian descent will have been spoon fed on these shots from birth and they’ll be hooking and cutting instinctively. It’s certainly not an instinctive shot for my migrant generation.

Psychologically, it’s no secret that Australian club cricket is played hard and uncompromisingly, sometimes too much so perhaps. It’s easy enough to mistake some of the sledging as ‘racist’ but from my experience, I found most of it to be opportunistic rather than redneck. They’ll do anything to put you off your game and if you react to a jibe relating to colour or race, you’ve then got a reputation for taking the bait and the vicious cycle continues until it then becomes a bit personal or heated. That’s where the trouble really begins. Believe me, the white cricketers get sledged just as much but their sensitive points might be fat/ugly/cowardly/parentage/whatever. Don’t get me wrong – I find this whole sledging thing distasteful in the extreme but I cannot honestly say that any of the sledging I’ve experienced has been motivated by pure racism. Normally, I don’t bat long enough to hear the rest of the repertoire anyway!

That style of cricket may not come easily to players from Asian or Aboriginal descent so perhaps that filters a few youngsters out of the game. That will change too as more young kids are born and bred in Australia, rather than having learn to cope on the run as I did when I came here as a 15-year old. This abrasive style is not easy to get used to but once you accept that there’s generally no malice in it, you tend to laugh it off and they leave you alone. That’s been my experience anyway.

Of course there will be exceptions and individual tales of discrimination. That happens anywhere and it is a travesty of justice for the victim. But I cannot agree that it is systemic in Australia. I can only speak for myself but I cannot truthfully claim to have been disadvantaged for any other reason than a plain absence of talent.

Change will come but when it happens, I hope it happens naturally and to those who deserve it. Perhaps we need to make sure that we don’t lose talent to the game at a younger age for all of the reasons described above but I’m sure the Australian cricket team of the future will have an ethnic diversity to it that will one day make this essay redundant. It’s not a black and white issue – just shades of glorious colour!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Miroreseth on October 12, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    I bookmarked this link. Thank you for good job!,

  • Anonymous on September 15, 2009, 14:30 GMT

    Just off the top of my head: Sammy Morris - the first black test cricketer - played for Australia 1884. When did England play their first black man? What about South Africa? Grahame Thomas - the only American Indian to play test cricket - and he played proudly for Australia in the 1960's. Lenny Pascoe - Macedonian origin. Michael Kasprowicz - Polish origin. Hilfenhaus, Hauritz, Rackermann, Bichel, Nothling, Embling etc etc - German origin Ricky Ponting - Chinese extraction Jason Gillespie - Aboriginal and Chinese origin Dav Whatmore - Sri Lankan born Andrew Symonds - Jamaican Simon Katich - Croatian Phil Hughes - Italian origin Mike Veletta - Italian origin Brendan Julian - Polynesian extraction Shane Warne - German born mother

    What were you guys saying about Australia fielding only Anglo-Saxon origin players again?

  • Godfrey D'Souza, Toronto on September 3, 2009, 19:44 GMT

    Quite a few cricketers from the sub continent have played at at the highest level in Australia. Duncan Sharpe, an anglo indian from Rawalpindi, played test cricket for Pakistan and Sheffield shield cricket for South Australia. Mark Lavender and Rusi Surti have also played for state teams. Stuart Clark , from the present crop of aussi players, has his origins in India. Both his parents are anglo indians from Bangalore, and his grand father was standby hockey goal keeper for the Indian Olympic team of 1936- Berlin Olympics.

  • Perera on September 2, 2009, 2:16 GMT

    I don't know the correct answer to this, but I feel when it comes to key selections be it sports or be it showbiz it is totaly dominated by whites in Australia. I haven't seen many TV dramas or even talk shows that involve many from the asian origin. But the British and US tv programs televised in Aus has so many of them. Is this racism or not, I don't know for sure.

  • heath on September 1, 2009, 6:35 GMT

    "So statistically you would expect in Australias 6 1st class teams (72 players) 65 white, 6 Asian, 0-1 Aboriginal.".

    I think its important to remember that cricket is essentially an anglo game. If you look at the crowds, they're either white (british descent) or from other countries where the game is strong (India, sri lanka and pakistan in particular).

    Cricket is not good at engaging crowds outside its traditional market. 20/20 is working on this, but it is a real weakness of the game.

    Many aboriginals now play australian football and enhance the game. Often though, their primary skill is that they are fast runners, and that skill may not be relevant to cricket.

    Plus it costs money to get into cricket (more than other sports). This probably makes the game less open to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Some thoughts.

  • Paul on August 28, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    An interesting article, well debated. I feel the quality of comments is very high -- and reasonably calm:). As a follower of Yorkshire I have heard a range of weasel words on this subject over the years. Note however that Yorkshire has finally got to grips with this issue, with Rashid & Shahzad well-established -- and the academy having a strong Asian presence. I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Len Pascoe; short test career admittedly, but that was due to World Series. Perhaps a beacon for others of European descent?

  • Jamie on August 26, 2009, 9:18 GMT

    It will take a while, but we will eventually get a greater diversity of players, and our cricket will be better for it.

    Personally I hope some of the relatively new Sudanese take up cricket.

  • Praveen on August 26, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    The lack of ethnic players in the Australian team is due to the way structure is set up; at club level there is a greater presence of players with diverse backgrounds. But at State level it is a different story as the respective state teams select only the best players or those who have the right temperament to succeed at the top. That was how Australia came to dominate cricket for some time. Potentially Usman Khawaja, Theo Doropoulos and Moises Henriques might stake a claim to the Australian squad in the coming years. Only if they can consistently hold their own in a tough and competitive environment they are in to break into state cricket. But otherwise the players regardless of race or creed should be selected according to their cricket skills and nothing else.

  • Mavrick on August 26, 2009, 3:14 GMT

    What about Dav Whatmore?? He played for Australia and was a prolific run getter in the sheffield Shield for Victoria

  • Terry Jones on August 26, 2009, 2:49 GMT

    Comparing Australia to other countries is unfair, why not just compare Australia to say WI or SA and ask why no Asians or Aboriginals in Australian Team?

    The answer is SA is around 90% black, WI is fairly high as well and England have many immergrents from Africa and middle east. Australias population is over 92% white with around 7% Asian and 1% Aboriginals, thats 1 in 12 Australians arent white.

    So statistically you would expect in Australias 6 1st class teams (72 players) 65 white, 6 Asian, 0-1 Aboriginal.

    Looking around the state squads this is roughly what the odds are.

    To be honest race isnt an issue in Australia with anything, most people dont even put it down on a survey. I'm not black or white or Asian, I'm an Australian!

  • Miroreseth on October 12, 2009, 5:50 GMT

    I bookmarked this link. Thank you for good job!,

  • Anonymous on September 15, 2009, 14:30 GMT

    Just off the top of my head: Sammy Morris - the first black test cricketer - played for Australia 1884. When did England play their first black man? What about South Africa? Grahame Thomas - the only American Indian to play test cricket - and he played proudly for Australia in the 1960's. Lenny Pascoe - Macedonian origin. Michael Kasprowicz - Polish origin. Hilfenhaus, Hauritz, Rackermann, Bichel, Nothling, Embling etc etc - German origin Ricky Ponting - Chinese extraction Jason Gillespie - Aboriginal and Chinese origin Dav Whatmore - Sri Lankan born Andrew Symonds - Jamaican Simon Katich - Croatian Phil Hughes - Italian origin Mike Veletta - Italian origin Brendan Julian - Polynesian extraction Shane Warne - German born mother

    What were you guys saying about Australia fielding only Anglo-Saxon origin players again?

  • Godfrey D'Souza, Toronto on September 3, 2009, 19:44 GMT

    Quite a few cricketers from the sub continent have played at at the highest level in Australia. Duncan Sharpe, an anglo indian from Rawalpindi, played test cricket for Pakistan and Sheffield shield cricket for South Australia. Mark Lavender and Rusi Surti have also played for state teams. Stuart Clark , from the present crop of aussi players, has his origins in India. Both his parents are anglo indians from Bangalore, and his grand father was standby hockey goal keeper for the Indian Olympic team of 1936- Berlin Olympics.

  • Perera on September 2, 2009, 2:16 GMT

    I don't know the correct answer to this, but I feel when it comes to key selections be it sports or be it showbiz it is totaly dominated by whites in Australia. I haven't seen many TV dramas or even talk shows that involve many from the asian origin. But the British and US tv programs televised in Aus has so many of them. Is this racism or not, I don't know for sure.

  • heath on September 1, 2009, 6:35 GMT

    "So statistically you would expect in Australias 6 1st class teams (72 players) 65 white, 6 Asian, 0-1 Aboriginal.".

    I think its important to remember that cricket is essentially an anglo game. If you look at the crowds, they're either white (british descent) or from other countries where the game is strong (India, sri lanka and pakistan in particular).

    Cricket is not good at engaging crowds outside its traditional market. 20/20 is working on this, but it is a real weakness of the game.

    Many aboriginals now play australian football and enhance the game. Often though, their primary skill is that they are fast runners, and that skill may not be relevant to cricket.

    Plus it costs money to get into cricket (more than other sports). This probably makes the game less open to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    Some thoughts.

  • Paul on August 28, 2009, 7:59 GMT

    An interesting article, well debated. I feel the quality of comments is very high -- and reasonably calm:). As a follower of Yorkshire I have heard a range of weasel words on this subject over the years. Note however that Yorkshire has finally got to grips with this issue, with Rashid & Shahzad well-established -- and the academy having a strong Asian presence. I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Len Pascoe; short test career admittedly, but that was due to World Series. Perhaps a beacon for others of European descent?

  • Jamie on August 26, 2009, 9:18 GMT

    It will take a while, but we will eventually get a greater diversity of players, and our cricket will be better for it.

    Personally I hope some of the relatively new Sudanese take up cricket.

  • Praveen on August 26, 2009, 6:31 GMT

    The lack of ethnic players in the Australian team is due to the way structure is set up; at club level there is a greater presence of players with diverse backgrounds. But at State level it is a different story as the respective state teams select only the best players or those who have the right temperament to succeed at the top. That was how Australia came to dominate cricket for some time. Potentially Usman Khawaja, Theo Doropoulos and Moises Henriques might stake a claim to the Australian squad in the coming years. Only if they can consistently hold their own in a tough and competitive environment they are in to break into state cricket. But otherwise the players regardless of race or creed should be selected according to their cricket skills and nothing else.

  • Mavrick on August 26, 2009, 3:14 GMT

    What about Dav Whatmore?? He played for Australia and was a prolific run getter in the sheffield Shield for Victoria

  • Terry Jones on August 26, 2009, 2:49 GMT

    Comparing Australia to other countries is unfair, why not just compare Australia to say WI or SA and ask why no Asians or Aboriginals in Australian Team?

    The answer is SA is around 90% black, WI is fairly high as well and England have many immergrents from Africa and middle east. Australias population is over 92% white with around 7% Asian and 1% Aboriginals, thats 1 in 12 Australians arent white.

    So statistically you would expect in Australias 6 1st class teams (72 players) 65 white, 6 Asian, 0-1 Aboriginal.

    Looking around the state squads this is roughly what the odds are.

    To be honest race isnt an issue in Australia with anything, most people dont even put it down on a survey. I'm not black or white or Asian, I'm an Australian!

  • theothersteve on August 26, 2009, 2:34 GMT

    Good article Fox and some interesting comments. As an Anglo with a "traditional" background in the game but with an interest in the multicultural/indigenous side of things, it is fair to say that progress is going to be generational rather than overnight. But the Indigenous players are trickling through - Josh Lalor from NSW, Preston White from Qld, Darcy Short from NT - are just a couple who might be able to break into top rank cricket in the next few seasons. As for Usman Khawalja - he's easily the most impressive young batsman I've seen in the past year. Should be a special to play for Australia imo. Those individuals I've mentioned begs the question though - do we need to create "high profile" heroes to get the cut through into the communities that don't follow cricket? With the influx of recent African immigration, will that be the next area to target? And the same with the growing Polynesian populations? Will it be a "hero" who lifts cricket, or concerted development programs?

  • arnab on August 26, 2009, 1:10 GMT

    great article! im an australian born bangladeshi, who played rep cricket all until gr11 and 12 when the parents decided enough was enough and that study came first. teams from 15yrs and under were littered with people of south asian heritage, but once you get older they are all forced to choose safer career options, something that will as you say take a generation to change.

  • Chohdry A Sandhu on August 26, 2009, 1:06 GMT

    Asians playing cricket in Australia, is actually a smaller dream than Asian playing cricket in Asia!

    At least in Australia, one can play grade cricket at all. Forget being able to do that anywhere in Asia unless you are ‘privileged’. Nepotism, corruption, poor cricketing facilities, social implications (if you play cricket, you are a loser, smart people go to the Uni), and poverty (Not everyone can afford to buy the gear) are only some of the challenges prevailing in Asia.

    One can argue that there are issues relating to cricket in Australia, but none ‘unfair’. There are always factors such as, someone mentioned in this thread, “Booze Culture”, that isolate an individual in the club environment which results into the player either not enjoying his cricket or quitting the club altogether.

    I do not like the word “adapt” in a sense that a person can only adapt within a sphere made up of his background, culture, religion, family and socio-economic background. So, “adaptability” is always an equation naturally biased towards the majority. So, numbers is they key here. For example, a traditional Muslim cricketer will always have a tough time fitting in an Australian cricket club because he is in the minority. I used the word ‘traditional Muslim’ because Muslims like Shoaib Akhtar do not fit in an All Muslim Pakistani team either (He is Roy of Pakistan)!

    Asian cricketers in Australia, have unlimited potential, but then who doesn’t. Being an Asian myself, I’m worried that Asians in general play cricket as a sport of passion only. Quite a few of them at times, lack commitment, professionalism, grit, and perseverance. This is all because they don’t believe that they can make a living out of this sport, they do not treat it as a possible profession!

  • Andrew on August 26, 2009, 0:36 GMT

    It's so simple. The reason there are more white people in the Aussie team is because the majority of the population is white. How many white people are in the West Indies team, the Sri Lankan, the Indian or Bangladesh teams? Why isn't it an issue that India doesn't have any white people in the team?

  • redneck on August 26, 2009, 0:24 GMT

    oh please give me a break! why dont you go and write an article on why white men cant jump or why anglos arent ever in the 100 meter final of the olympics or how there are so few in the NBA! what crap! australia have always had a strong cricket team and we are obviously physicly more cut out for cricket and no need to look out of our backyard for players coming through! this is just a poor attempt to paint australians as racisit, our culture is to play hard, give the opposition a bit of lip, then go laugh about it over a few beers in the club rooms after. why should we change our culture because certain asian cultures dont drink or change our pitches because asian spinners dont get any assistance from the pitch! if aussies were immigrating by the thousands to india would india change their cricket set up and make their pitches more pace friendly??? i dont think so! and any asian bowler copying the style of murali wont make any inroads here because we view the technique as illeagal!

  • Michael Jeh on August 25, 2009, 21:17 GMT

    Thanks for the excellent comments. Really enjoyed reading them. To those bloggers who disagreed with my comment about "physical strength and body shape", I'm not saying that it's not hot and tough in other parts of the world. What I am saying is that the nature of Australian pitches make it essential for a fast bowler to have to hit the deck and extract bounce. "kissing the wicket" is generally not as successful here as in other parts of the world. For that reason, I think it might be another decade or so before we start producing fast bowlers from Asian stock with slightly bigger physiques (as we are now seeing from India, Pakistan etc). I think the bottom line is that most people seem to agree that we should be selecting on merit rather than quota at the top level. Perhaps the junior levels may need some encouragement for indigenous lads but at the highest level, I'd like to see the best team rather than the most "balanced" team (in that sense of the word). Peace...

  • Damien on August 25, 2009, 20:56 GMT

    before we all get to worked up about the state of race in our cricket side, i think anyone who knows aust cricket would agree the best players are in the squad, right? So do we then turn to our asian neighbours and ask 'hey where are all your anglo players in you soccer or table tennis squads?' its all a bit silly isn't it. Sport is to big a business to not win with petty rasicm, and if you seriously think we have a rasicm problem in any of our nation codes (and I don't mean the one off incidents, that will happen in society the same as sport) well have a sit down with a cup of tea and go over all the facts for ALL sports. As soon as someone is good enough to get in they will get in. Simple.

  • Anton on August 25, 2009, 20:27 GMT

    Players of German extraction have not only been prevalant in the Queensland side, but also other states, but I mentioned Queensland because they have had far mor ethan others,

  • jawad khan on August 25, 2009, 17:12 GMT

    i don't know a lot about cricket and the racial politics in australia, but i do know i am a physician who expressed interest to work in australia and i was told by the recruiter that the australian hospitals thought i was underqualified for the job. I would challenge anyone in the world to review my curriculum vitae and decide if by any parameter i am not OVERQUALIFIED rather than UNDERQUALIFIED for the job I do. I am living happily in the USA, which probably is the best country in world to live in at this point in time. All the comments here seem to reflect Australia as the hotbed of racial equality. I though have heard otherwise. I think this calls for serious reconsideration.

    My point of view: despite having inadequate information on the issue from not having visited Australia ever, racial issues might be in play here.

  • AussieDesi on August 25, 2009, 16:52 GMT

    Michael, Sorry but I think you missed the point on this one. Have to agree with some other posters - physical attributes are not the be all and end all of success in Oz (although Perth-bred Dimi Mascarenhas is not your usual Sri Lankan!). And do you not think Bopara, Afzaal, Shah et al had a smooth ride when it comes to racism.

    My view: The white Australia policy was only abolished by Whitlam in 1975. Large scale Asian immigration only occurred after that time. Chee Quee and Khawaja notwithstanding - here come the bananas (white inside, yellow outside), coconuts (brown outside, white inside) - together with the proudly Indo-Ozzie, Pak-Ozzie, Somali-Ozzie etc etc.

    Watch this space.

  • Anton on August 25, 2009, 15:55 GMT

    It depends on what you mean by ethnic. I am guessing you mean players who are non-white. I suppose this may take a while because a lot of the Indian, African immigrants into Austrlia have been very recent.

    If the term 'ethnic' is taken to mean non-Anglo-Saxon, then, the trend of cricketrs coming through is a lot stronger. Like someone earlier said, grade cricket has plenty of cricketers with Greek, Italin, East European names, and a few of them have and are coming through to state cricket and even the national team such as Katiuch, Kaspa, Hughes, Pomersbach, Henriques, etc.

    Players of German extraction have been prevalant in the Queensland (owing to the fact that many initially immigrated to the Gold Coast) and the national teams for many decades.

  • Steve I on August 25, 2009, 14:51 GMT

    Nice article with some interesting comments and without the expected vitriol. Personally, I think it is a matter of time. Immigration of people from the major cricket nations outside UK is a relatively recent phenomena to Australia. Over the next 10-15 years I think we can expect to see an increase in the number of first class cricketers from Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani descent.

  • Michael on August 25, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    Watch out for Usman Khawaja.. he played a fair bit for NSW last season and made quite a lot of runs.. I think he is a massive chance to make the Australian team in the next few years.

  • Nick on August 25, 2009, 14:08 GMT

    Steve is right. Most migrants didn't risk everything to come to Australia so that they, and their children, could play sport. It often takes a generation for any migrant group to become "Australian". I am sure Hilfenhaus and Langer's ancestors received a much more hostile reception when they arrived in Australia than any Asian does now. I don't imagine Germans were rushing to the Grey Nicholls store when they arrived in Australia at the turn of the century. Now we regard Langer and Hilfenhaus as "Anglo" players, even though Germans would not consider themselves Anglo Saxon! Ditto the parents/ancestors of Katich, Kasprowicz, Klinger, Nannes, Henriques, Noffke, Clingleffer, Krezja, Pomersbach, Ronchi and Doropolous - that is some serious racial diversity or are all Europeans "the same"? I played club cricket for 26 years with some terrific players from the subcontinent - all were either migrants or first generation - give it some time. It will happen. Watch out for Usman Khawaja!

  • William on August 25, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    Australians along with other white skinned teams are ethnic in their own right, if you look at the Sri Lankans, Indians, Pakistan and Bangladesh teams they are usually of all one skin colour and there are far more people living in those 4 countries than in England, Australia, New Zealand who are the 3 main teams consisting of white skinned players, so ethnicity is a moot point as the asian based teams don't have white players in their national sides. Australia had an Aboriginal team 1800's and recently had Jason Gillespie who was essentially a non white so who cares about colour etc, lets just worry about fair honest games and get on with life.

  • Steve Shadbolt on August 25, 2009, 11:47 GMT

    The comment you make about the expectations of parents and why it doesn't manifest itself in Britain is interesting. The reason I suspect is that here in Britain we are now on the second generation of Asian players actually born in the UK. My contempories were the first generation and my Asian friends were put under a lot of pressure to succeed academically, my current Asian friends don't put the same pressure on their children and give them a lot more freedom. Asian players in county cricket is a realtively new thing and I suspect that the reason they are coming through is that their parents are more influenced by British than Asian cultures. In 20 years you may find the same in Aus.

  • Harry Akkers on August 25, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    This sort of thing goes on in England as well. The percentage of Asian kids going forward is very low. The reason for this is that asian parents know that their kids will get rough treatment when it comes to selection at any level. And then at selection bias does take place; happens time and time again. Unfortunately there appears to be some kind of hidden quota in which very few asian kids get through. They pick just so many to tick the boxes. Also they have ingenious methods of keeping those kids out of the game - give them less competitive games, not pick them for key games, discourage them etc. This goes on all the time. Having said that, some asian kids are just damn lazy and want to be spoon-fed (I know, I am asian). On the whole, asian kids are getting no less opportunities in the Uk than they would get back in India/Pakistan where a whole host of other factors cme in.

  • imran on August 25, 2009, 11:33 GMT

    I am an australian from pakistani background. I played cricket at a good level in pak at school & club & U-19 level with likes of Shahid afridi. When i came here in 2001, i plyed for a UWA perth . It was a shocker from culture & playing conditions point of view. But after a few years , i made the necessary adjustments & had no problems apart from some onfield incidences which i learnt to deal with. I think talent wise , asian players are good but there is a lack of professionalism i have seen which you can get away with in asian countries but not in Australia. From coaching point of view, i think there is a need to not discourage unorthodoxity like we see in players like Mendis, shohail tanvir etc . Also a more diversity in types of pitches on offer would help future players become better at playing spin & reverse swing . Need encouragement& more overs :)to be given to young spinners at club levels & also top level.I hope my soon to be born SON will one day play for australian team.

  • Ian Whitchurch on August 25, 2009, 11:20 GMT

    I look at the best-ever teams for rugby league or Australian Rules or rugby union, and I see a bunch of Aboriginal players.

    I look at bagy green caps, and I se Dizzy Gillespe and Andrew Symonds.

    I'd like to be relaxed at this point, but I think things go deeper.

  • Rev on August 25, 2009, 9:26 GMT

    Racial analysis in sport boils down to one thing, in my opinion - look at the junior demographics. Ice hockey is played mostly by white kids in the Northwest US/Canada/Russia. Hence, the NHL is populated by whites. I played cricket for roughly 15 years growing up - a team would be 11 white kids, or 10 whites and 1 black/brown/yellow/purple/whatever. It is pure percentages - more white kids playing, more white cricketers. Take a look at rugby league and AFL in Australia - indigenous players are 'over-represented' (only by demographic, they certainly have the talent) several times when compared to the national indigenous population. Why? Because if you go watch junior rugby league, there will usually be half-a-dozen young Aboriginal/Islander kids on the team. More indigenous kids playing, more indigenous NRL/AFL players of the future.

  • sidos on August 25, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    I came to the country aged 3, from India. I entered the milo have a go program and my interest in the sport just flourished. Before I knew it, I was making representative sides each year. Quite often I was the only ethnic in the league, but I have never really thought about it. I just adapted to Aussie cricket culture I guess. Yeah I cop a bit of racist taunts, but you have to develop a thick skin over here. Interestingly the bouncy wickets have made my develop my game into a better square of the wicket shot maker than the quintessential sub-continent "wristy" batting. I guess if Asians grow from a young age playing the sport, they will adapt quickly and become very good. In my experience, I've seen some brilliant young Asian players who could go very far. As for me? I just wasn't good enough by the time I was 18 :(

  • Anonymous on August 25, 2009, 8:58 GMT

    Its hilarious to suggest the players from ethnic backgrounds are not strong or robust enough, or by association, Anglo-Saxon body type is better suited. If ethnic Asian players with genes to cope with extreme heat are viewed as not being tough enough, then there's obviously something wrong. To suggest cricket is softer in the subcontinent is a rabid - just checkout the level of talent and competition in cricket tourneys in parks in Mumbai.

    Aussies seem to believe sledging makes them tough - the last few years to losses at international level should give them a second think coming.

  • sudzz on August 25, 2009, 8:40 GMT

    This is an issue that I have brought up a numerous number of times on various blogs.

    I don't agree with the author on just the physical aspect of the game, for starters West Indies is no different when it comes to heat and we have had some excellent players of Asian origin in their team as well.

    Like the poster Fraser Neele has pointed out, its more to do with people of colour not graduating to the next level even from Club Cricket.

    I cannot believe that a second or third generation immigrant of any origin cannot fit both physically and psychologically. For god sake are we now saying Croatian's and Serbian's etc can fit in but not a Indian or Pakistani or Srilankan or for that matter a Zimbabwean etc?

    Cricket is probably the only Aussie sport where its an exclusive Anglo Saxon club and it probably will remain so till there is a significant shift in the people that run the game.

    But then again I don't think the public in general will allow it to happen remember Cathy Freeman?

  • Phil S. on August 25, 2009, 8:31 GMT

    Fraser Neele hit a nail on the head with a mention of the old boy's club. It seems to be a big problem in the bush, at least here in Victoria. Opening up to different races/cultures is exactly what the game needs to add diversity. Where would be today without the great Ranji for example? And yet you still see those who think that his wristy play is only good on low, slow subcontinental wickets (perhaps ignoring that Sangakarra is rated number 1 in the world for good reason). I think those sort of blinkered ideas by local experts who have seem to have little idea who Ranji was, put too many potentially good players off. In recent times the South Africans were accused of being too samey. Now their batting has Duminy and Prince coming on and looks better for it. Australia is in danger of becoming the new South Africa, the team that is always there or thereabouts without the diversity to be truly the best.

  • adam on August 25, 2009, 7:37 GMT

    Bull there are so many contadictions here i dunno where to begin, indigenous australians are good enough to make a name for tyheselves in AFl, both codes of rugby, boxing however according to the the author above are not physically capable of taking on massive Ango boys, rubbish ok lets see brian lara sachin tendular both did ok in aus in their time. Mate ur experience in australia and definition of what constitutes discrimination is ur business but calling a person of color black/indian/abo so an so is not sleging it's racial vilification so i dunno how u justify it otherwise in ur article. I gather ur form asuian background if someone calls u a black so and so on a sporting field it's racisim SIMPLE yet since u don't consider it racist and are not offended when these things are directed at u, mate it's still racist. Personally i am not white but have played footy/cricket among anglos ever since my early childhood and there is a signifincant minority with racist views most harmless

  • muppet arms on August 25, 2009, 5:54 GMT

    I've played senior cricket in a country comp for the last twelve years and on any given day the team sheet has a distinctly cosmopolitan look to it. A quick glance down the batting list will reveal a mixture of Greek, Italian, Croatian, German and Sikh names complementing the "usual" anglo monikers. The encouraging thing I have noticed is that almost all of the ethnic named players I have come across, with the exception of the indians, are first generation cricketers. This would lead me to believe that while their parents or grandparents came to australia with no knowledge of the game these players have still been attracted to the game and become actively involved. As for a lack of indigenous players, I just don't know. Mike Coleman and Ken Edwards tried to explain this in their book about Eddie Gilbert saying that most indigenous kids these days spend 12 months of the year kicking the footy around emulating any number of AFL or NRL heroes and that is a hard cycle to crack.

  • Ben on August 25, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    This question was posed to me when I was in the UK working: the answer is cultural. Many Indians, Pakistanis and English of Asian decent do not understand the migrant intake into Australia over the years and how it impacts sport in Australia. Aboriginals follow AFL and rugby league and over represent both sports. European Australians follow and play football, though Katich and Kasprowicz are excpetions probably because they are 2nd and 3rd generation. Asians from SE Asian play football and basketball and tend not to follow cricket. Indians, Pakistanis and Africans are more recent arrivals and the former as students more than families. Therefore, the ability for younger Asians to flow through has not emerged as say in the UK where many families arrived in the 60s and 70s. Therefore, the answer is cultural more than anything. Cricket has always been the game for Australians of Anglo Saxon heritage though this will change in time as the migrant mix changes. It is def not due to race.

  • Ben on August 25, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    This question was posed to me when I was in the UK working: the answer is cultural. Many Indians, Pakistanis and English of Asian decent do not understand the migrant intake into Australia over the years and how it impacts sport in Australia. Aboriginals follow AFL and rugby league and over represent both sports. European Australians follow and play football, though Katich and Kasprowicz are excpetions probably because they are 2nd and 3rd generation. Asians from SE Asian play football and basketball and tend not to follow cricket. Indians, Pakistanis and Africans are more recent arrivals and the former as students more than families. Therefore, the ability for younger Asians to flow through has not emerged as say in the UK where many families arrived in the 60s and 70s. Therefore, the answer is cultural more than anything. Cricket has always been the game for Australians of Anglo Saxon heritage though this will change in time as the migrant mix changes. It is def not due to race.

  • Aby Mathew on August 25, 2009, 5:17 GMT

    I am an asian myself, & the aus. team has produced some of the finest batsmen & bowlers over the history of test cricket( warne, bradman, ponsford, chapell, waugh, gilchrist, lillee, benaud etc., the list is too damn long isnt it.), I just want to see the best XI on the cricket field, irrespective of the color or ethnic background. Australia is a huge country . The wickets are absolutely brilliant there. Its windy and cold in hobart, turns square at SCG, Extreme pace and bounce at WACA, flat pitch at adelaide & u have fast & true australian pitches at the Gabba and MCG. Damn these aussies produce stunnin pitches .We have to accept that these guys take their cricket seriously and work bloody hard on such tracks, they play good shots . All blokes who cry & brood about selection policies should go back & find out exactly what they are doing wrong and work their backsides out.Unlike asian nations,cricket is rofessionally structured and the results prove y they ruled cricket for lst 20 yrs

  • EN on August 25, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    I think it depends on what you mean by ethnic. The colonisation process in Australia was originally done by the British and Irish, who made up the original test players. The first major group of non-British immigrants were the Germans in SA and Qld, and this was reflected in the test team from the late 20s [guys like Nothling right through to Hilfenhaus - obviously a German name, but I doubt he identifies as being if German descent].The South European influx post WWII can be seen in this team with the likes of Katich and Hughes. Large scale Asian immigration has only been a factor in Australia since the 60s or 70s. The process of Asian immigration started earlier in Britain, but the impact on the test team was not really felt until the 90s. I think it is only a matter of time until the Australian team more generally reflects its populace and its cricket community.

  • Ross on August 25, 2009, 4:59 GMT

    Hi Fox,

    I think it is a question of numbers. At the last census in 2006, there were 150000 Indian born Australians. By comparison, there were over a million Indian born Britons.

    More strikingly, in 1986, there were 48000 Indian Australians. In 1981, there were 680000 Indian Britons.

    Its a guess, but I think there aren't many 18-25 year old Australian boys of Indian/South Asian heritage. The total population of Indian Australians is less than 1% of Australia's total. Our migrant population would skew younger than the total population, but it would still be less than 1%.

    With only 100 or so first class cricket 'jobs' in Australia, a fair representation for Indian/South Asian cricketers would be about 1 player.

    Usman Kuwaja played quite a bit for NSW last year, and I know there are a few other players in development squads around the states, so I think there really isn't a problem to fix.

    cheers,

    Ross

  • Paulimus_Prime on August 25, 2009, 4:46 GMT

    I'm from NZ and at the international level NZ has only had a couple of Maori or Polynesian players and at club level it's very much 80% or more white players. Cricket just ins't very popular with the Maori & Polynesian families/communities as they prefer physical sports like rugby or league, heck cricket struggles enough for popularity with the white population in NZ I have no idea how it would break into the Maori/Polynesian communities.

  • Doug on August 25, 2009, 4:24 GMT

    Well, our WOMEN'S side is much more multi-cultural. But it is also not as professional. We do produce some exceptional male players -ROY for one, but he has been treated shabbily. Couldn't imagine that 2nd XI we sent to England folding so pathetically if he had been batting. And fielding. And bowling. There are a handful of players in NSW - Henriques and the Muslim guy. Give it time. And if the 'Test' side keeps playing like this, well ANYBODY could get to play.

  • Henry B. on August 25, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Firstly, congrats on bringing up an issue that may be controversial to some. But honestly I think the end result may just be another flaming of us Aussies for being racist, arrogant, evil-doers. As for the lack of Indigenous players, didn't an Indigenous team tour England in the 19th century? But I do believe we're missing out on a huge pool of talent there. Growing up near an Aboriginal community, with a large Sikh community in the local town, I hardly ever saw individuals from either community playing cricket. By far the more popular sport was rugby league. As for physique, you can't honestly say McGrath or Bruce Reid are robust figures. It was their height on bouncy pitches which made them successful, like Sharma, who by no means has a sturdy physique (I remember Buchanan advising he put on some muscle). As for needing Indigenous/ethnic stars? Jason Gillespie might have something to say about that.

  • Paul G on August 25, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    Michael.

    As you are well (or should be) aware most indigenous lads prefer the football codes in Australia. For example Aboriginal players make up 11% of all players on AFL lists yet only comprise 2.5% of the population. Indigenous players make up 11% of NRL ranks as well (not to mention players of Polynesian ethnicity making up 29%). I think you will find that is why few Aboriginal lads have made it to first class or senior club level in Australia. Jason Gillespie is part Aboriginal and Richard Chee Que played some Shield cricket for NSW in recent times. Players of Aboriginal or Asian background are rare but as you correctly point out in the case of Asians have other priorities (study) or are not physically suited to Australian conditions (or perhaps the boozy culture of Australian sporting clubs). Indigenous lads, as I have suggested, are not interested prefering other sporting pursuits.

  • fraser neele on August 25, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    im an 18 yr old english born australian and i've oened the batting at A-grade for the town of tatura for two years. in the area i live we have many sri lankan, indian, afghani and congolese/somali inhabitants. i play against many of them and some are VERY good bowlers and batsmen yet for some reason they never quite make it to the next level. i think it could well be partly that specially in country aus it is a bit of an old boys club. u consistently see the same family names in rpresentative squads and teams and also as micheal said that wickets and techniques are exceedingly different. although as an opening bat iv found that of the four top openng bowlers three are of african descent and with quite a large african comunity it is a wonder we don't see more of these players who suit the conditions in higher leagues.

  • David on August 25, 2009, 2:54 GMT

    There really is no answer to this question. Its likely a combination of all those things you have mentioned. While I was at university I would often invite the asian players to my local club. There was never any lack of talent but I dont think they ever adapted to the culture. However over the years I have encountered a great deal of asian players in the local melbourne comps. I think once people get over the initial shock they are fine. The mental aspect of playing Aus cricket is very demanding. It can be very confronting when not used to it. I played football and basketball and while they are more physical games, cricket was always a more taxing affair. Cricket is taken so seriously and the game is played ruthlessly, sometimes to a fault.

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  • David on August 25, 2009, 2:54 GMT

    There really is no answer to this question. Its likely a combination of all those things you have mentioned. While I was at university I would often invite the asian players to my local club. There was never any lack of talent but I dont think they ever adapted to the culture. However over the years I have encountered a great deal of asian players in the local melbourne comps. I think once people get over the initial shock they are fine. The mental aspect of playing Aus cricket is very demanding. It can be very confronting when not used to it. I played football and basketball and while they are more physical games, cricket was always a more taxing affair. Cricket is taken so seriously and the game is played ruthlessly, sometimes to a fault.

  • fraser neele on August 25, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    im an 18 yr old english born australian and i've oened the batting at A-grade for the town of tatura for two years. in the area i live we have many sri lankan, indian, afghani and congolese/somali inhabitants. i play against many of them and some are VERY good bowlers and batsmen yet for some reason they never quite make it to the next level. i think it could well be partly that specially in country aus it is a bit of an old boys club. u consistently see the same family names in rpresentative squads and teams and also as micheal said that wickets and techniques are exceedingly different. although as an opening bat iv found that of the four top openng bowlers three are of african descent and with quite a large african comunity it is a wonder we don't see more of these players who suit the conditions in higher leagues.

  • Paul G on August 25, 2009, 4:05 GMT

    Michael.

    As you are well (or should be) aware most indigenous lads prefer the football codes in Australia. For example Aboriginal players make up 11% of all players on AFL lists yet only comprise 2.5% of the population. Indigenous players make up 11% of NRL ranks as well (not to mention players of Polynesian ethnicity making up 29%). I think you will find that is why few Aboriginal lads have made it to first class or senior club level in Australia. Jason Gillespie is part Aboriginal and Richard Chee Que played some Shield cricket for NSW in recent times. Players of Aboriginal or Asian background are rare but as you correctly point out in the case of Asians have other priorities (study) or are not physically suited to Australian conditions (or perhaps the boozy culture of Australian sporting clubs). Indigenous lads, as I have suggested, are not interested prefering other sporting pursuits.

  • Henry B. on August 25, 2009, 4:10 GMT

    Firstly, congrats on bringing up an issue that may be controversial to some. But honestly I think the end result may just be another flaming of us Aussies for being racist, arrogant, evil-doers. As for the lack of Indigenous players, didn't an Indigenous team tour England in the 19th century? But I do believe we're missing out on a huge pool of talent there. Growing up near an Aboriginal community, with a large Sikh community in the local town, I hardly ever saw individuals from either community playing cricket. By far the more popular sport was rugby league. As for physique, you can't honestly say McGrath or Bruce Reid are robust figures. It was their height on bouncy pitches which made them successful, like Sharma, who by no means has a sturdy physique (I remember Buchanan advising he put on some muscle). As for needing Indigenous/ethnic stars? Jason Gillespie might have something to say about that.

  • Doug on August 25, 2009, 4:24 GMT

    Well, our WOMEN'S side is much more multi-cultural. But it is also not as professional. We do produce some exceptional male players -ROY for one, but he has been treated shabbily. Couldn't imagine that 2nd XI we sent to England folding so pathetically if he had been batting. And fielding. And bowling. There are a handful of players in NSW - Henriques and the Muslim guy. Give it time. And if the 'Test' side keeps playing like this, well ANYBODY could get to play.

  • Paulimus_Prime on August 25, 2009, 4:46 GMT

    I'm from NZ and at the international level NZ has only had a couple of Maori or Polynesian players and at club level it's very much 80% or more white players. Cricket just ins't very popular with the Maori & Polynesian families/communities as they prefer physical sports like rugby or league, heck cricket struggles enough for popularity with the white population in NZ I have no idea how it would break into the Maori/Polynesian communities.

  • Ross on August 25, 2009, 4:59 GMT

    Hi Fox,

    I think it is a question of numbers. At the last census in 2006, there were 150000 Indian born Australians. By comparison, there were over a million Indian born Britons.

    More strikingly, in 1986, there were 48000 Indian Australians. In 1981, there were 680000 Indian Britons.

    Its a guess, but I think there aren't many 18-25 year old Australian boys of Indian/South Asian heritage. The total population of Indian Australians is less than 1% of Australia's total. Our migrant population would skew younger than the total population, but it would still be less than 1%.

    With only 100 or so first class cricket 'jobs' in Australia, a fair representation for Indian/South Asian cricketers would be about 1 player.

    Usman Kuwaja played quite a bit for NSW last year, and I know there are a few other players in development squads around the states, so I think there really isn't a problem to fix.

    cheers,

    Ross

  • EN on August 25, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    I think it depends on what you mean by ethnic. The colonisation process in Australia was originally done by the British and Irish, who made up the original test players. The first major group of non-British immigrants were the Germans in SA and Qld, and this was reflected in the test team from the late 20s [guys like Nothling right through to Hilfenhaus - obviously a German name, but I doubt he identifies as being if German descent].The South European influx post WWII can be seen in this team with the likes of Katich and Hughes. Large scale Asian immigration has only been a factor in Australia since the 60s or 70s. The process of Asian immigration started earlier in Britain, but the impact on the test team was not really felt until the 90s. I think it is only a matter of time until the Australian team more generally reflects its populace and its cricket community.

  • Aby Mathew on August 25, 2009, 5:17 GMT

    I am an asian myself, & the aus. team has produced some of the finest batsmen & bowlers over the history of test cricket( warne, bradman, ponsford, chapell, waugh, gilchrist, lillee, benaud etc., the list is too damn long isnt it.), I just want to see the best XI on the cricket field, irrespective of the color or ethnic background. Australia is a huge country . The wickets are absolutely brilliant there. Its windy and cold in hobart, turns square at SCG, Extreme pace and bounce at WACA, flat pitch at adelaide & u have fast & true australian pitches at the Gabba and MCG. Damn these aussies produce stunnin pitches .We have to accept that these guys take their cricket seriously and work bloody hard on such tracks, they play good shots . All blokes who cry & brood about selection policies should go back & find out exactly what they are doing wrong and work their backsides out.Unlike asian nations,cricket is rofessionally structured and the results prove y they ruled cricket for lst 20 yrs

  • Ben on August 25, 2009, 5:35 GMT

    This question was posed to me when I was in the UK working: the answer is cultural. Many Indians, Pakistanis and English of Asian decent do not understand the migrant intake into Australia over the years and how it impacts sport in Australia. Aboriginals follow AFL and rugby league and over represent both sports. European Australians follow and play football, though Katich and Kasprowicz are excpetions probably because they are 2nd and 3rd generation. Asians from SE Asian play football and basketball and tend not to follow cricket. Indians, Pakistanis and Africans are more recent arrivals and the former as students more than families. Therefore, the ability for younger Asians to flow through has not emerged as say in the UK where many families arrived in the 60s and 70s. Therefore, the answer is cultural more than anything. Cricket has always been the game for Australians of Anglo Saxon heritage though this will change in time as the migrant mix changes. It is def not due to race.