January 25, 2014

Australia's alert anti-foreigner squads

There comes a time when even the most tolerant country has to draw the line

"Did I just master the art of levitation?" © Getty Images

As we all know, Australia is a hospitable sort of place. Throughout history, the land of the big red rock has welcomed immigrants, whether they were 18th-century explorers, Victorian toddlers sentenced to 30 years hard labour for stealing a boiled egg, or refugees from Pakistan who can bowl a reasonably accurate legbreak.

But there comes a time when even the most tolerant country has to draw the line, and that time has come. Australia may look enormous on your map, but most of it is an inhospitable howling wilderness of dust, crocodiles and bad soap operas. Most Australians are crammed together along the coast, and with many of the nation's sheds, hotels and portable toilets already occupied by terrifying arachnids, there simply isn't any room for newcomers.

So why not crack down on the spiders? The vast majority of them are born and bred Australians, with as much right to remain as any other eight-legged, multiple-eyed, venomous-fanged citizen. They also perform a crucial role in the Antipodean ecosystem, keeping Australia's streets clear by eating all the stray cats and dogs.

An inundation of spiders is one thing, but an inundation of sports journalists is quite another. This summer Australia has been overwhelmed by swarms of economic migrants who sneak into the country under false pretences by claiming to be "writers", but who spend most of their time sitting around watching cricket, asking each other how many "l"s there are in Ballance, and complaining about the weather.

So it was good to see Australia's Anti-Foreigner Squads finally catching up with some of the worst offenders this week, most notably the gentlemen from the Daily Mail and the Sun, who - perhaps understandably - haven't been reading their own newspapers and so seem unaware that foreigners who outstay their welcome are the scourge of our times.

The authorities haven't just drawn the line at cricket hacks. Several weeks ago an influx of young men were granted temporary visas on the understanding they were in the country to "play cricket". Sadly, when put to the test many of the alleged cricketers showed only a basic understanding of how to play the game, and are currently being housed in various hotels until they can be repatriated next month.

A handful of select foreigners are allowed to stay, providing they can show they are performing work of vital importance to the Australian economy. It is for this reason that Dimitri Mascarenhas and Luke Wright have had their visas extended.

I'm particularly surprised that the Hurricanes have reached the important bit of the BBL, because in recent games they appeared to be picking their batting order with an 11-sided die. Poor Shoaib Malik has been asked to play a variety of roles from "Ineffective Opener" to "Ineffective Late-Order Slogger" and in recent matches Travis Birt has been hidden in the middle order like an embarrassing team secret.

After a run of four defeats in five, I feared for them on Thursday, but the nails of Hobart supporters remained entirely un-chewed as Dunk and Paine* did to Ryan Harris what no English batsman has been able to do to Ryan Harris. They bludgeoned 98 runs in nine overs, after which their team-mates completely failed to mess things up, enabling the purplest team in cricket to sneak into the semi-finals and earn the right to lose to Melbourne a week next Tuesday.

*A combination that deserves to be the title of a gritty basketball-themed police drama.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England. He tweets here