September 30, 2009

Anyone for England?

Should cricket adopt soccer's six-five rule, where the majority of the members of any national team would have to have been schooled in the country?
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It's a sobering thought. Had the selectors been flexing an unusually vigorous new broom, England could, in theory, be about to embark on a tour of South Africa with a first-choice XI culled solely from players born or schooled in South Africa: Andrew Strauss (capt), Stephen Moore, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Wayne Madsen, Matt Prior, Dawid Malan, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Faf du Plessis, Gareth Berg and Charl Willoughby. Now that Charl Langveldt and Ryan McLaren have re-committed themselves to their homeland, the side would certainly look a tad light on pace, granted, but given that 10 of those men have trousered first-class centuries, runs wouldn't have been too much of a problem.

Strauss and Prior, educated in Oxfordshire and Sussex respectively, should be exempt, of course, from any appraisal of suitability/eligibility, but would it really matter if they weren't? Or if they were joined by nine South Africa Under-19 graduates? More important, arguably, is another question: should it matter? Should it matter that Peter Roebuck attributed England's Ashes victory to "Durham and the Dominions"? Should it matter that Durham could soon be removed from the equation?

Nobody objects to an American running the London Tube, nor an Australian British Airways. Sport, though, is different. Academics have cited it as "the most emotive peacetime vehicle for harnessing and expressing bonds of national cultural affiliation". However, attest Toni Bruce and Belinda Wheaton in the latest edition of the journal Social Identities, "Although the saliency of nations has not diminished, globalisation has forced a shift in our understanding of them. Many commentators argue that the state has been decentred and is no longer able to impose a uniform sense of identity; instead multiple narratives and new identities are emerging, including transnational, diasporic and cosmopolitan forms of identity and citizenship."

This, though, falls down in team sports with a strong and entrenched spectator appeal, where the bond between public and team, and the importance of that team's fortunes to perceptions of national identity, is more apparent. Would Pietersen command such affection were he to represent South Africa and England? Put it this way: given the vituperative barracking that greeted his return there in 2004-05, it is not impossible to imagine his current injury problems persisting until the coming tour of South Africa has been safely concluded. If I was in his position I'd certainly give it a miss.

ACCORDING TO THE LAWS OF THE LAND, British employers cannot discriminate against someone according to their race, nationality, (dis) ability or sex. Nor should they. Yet we bend such strictures in sport simply by dint of having divisions for men and women in team and individual games alike, let alone fielding national sides. Wherein lies sport's innate contradictions. Nationalism is not an especially laudable pursuit; nothing that divides people can be. Yet international cricket, judging by crowds and satellite-TV subscriptions, still seems to be preferable in most eyes to the notion of the all-star, all-comers outfits that constitute the IPL.

Sport, unlike most areas of human endeavour, requires context and history to have meaning. Identification too. The Guardian devoted pages 1, 2 and 3 to cricket the day after England's Oval triumph. Not just in the sports section (in which the perpetual thunder of football, hallelujah, was all but drowned out) but in the main paper. The first four pages of the Times were similarly focused. Yes, it was a Monday in August, the height of the so-called silly season, and plenty of far less frivolous stories should have been afforded preferential treatment (such as the brewing storm over Libya), but none happier. It wouldn't have happened if Manchester United had just won the Champions League - too many English football fans despise all things Old Trafford.

But did anyone at Kennington last month give a damn that Trott had been groomed at the Afrikaner answer to Oxford University? Not by the sound and weight of the applause. Basil D'Oliveira, Tony Greig, Allan Lamb, Robin Smith and Pietersen all won spectators over by dint of performance, though many others have floundered. Succeed and you're "one of us", fail and you're "not English through and through" (as John Woodcock infamously wrote of Greig and some hinted of Graeme Hick). It isn't necessarily as stark a difference as that, but it can be. Because county cricket, in terms of numbers, remains the game's chief domestic employer by some distance, it is also primarily an English/British problem, though the relocations undertaken by Grant Elliott and Brendan Nash hint that it may not necessarily remain so.

However one feels about the merits or otherwise of professional patriotism, it is hard to blame the likes of Trott and Pietersen for taking the route they have chosen, not least since no fewer than 14 players have appeared in a Test for more than one national team, only one of whom, Kepler Wessels, could be said to have had his hand forced by non-cricketing politics. Dr Hilary Beckles may have been referring exclusively to Caribbean cricketers but his views have a universal application: "Today's cricket hero… now wishes to be identified as a professional craftsman with only a secondary responsibility to the wider socio-political agenda carried out by his predecessors. He does not wish to carry the responsibility for nationalist pride, regional integration and the viability of the nation-state. He sees himself as an apolitical, trans-national, global professional." And yet still we expect him to put nation before self.

One potential remedy might be for the ICC to bar any player who had played for his country's Under-19s from representing another nation, but that could well result in a rash of writs for restraint of trade. Indeed a test of such measures is currently in mid-flight. In introducing financial incentives for counties to field younger players (on top of those for fielding England-qualified players), the England and Wales Cricket Board is also aiming to reduce the influence of Kolpak players, yet the board has already been accused of ageism by the Professional Cricketers' Association (96% of whose members favour a meritocracy) and may yet be prevented from enacting what is a double-edged piece of legislation.

Nobody objects to an American running the London Tube, nor an Australian British Airways. Sport, though, is different. Academics have cited it as "the most emotive peacetime vehicle for harnessing and expressing bonds of national cultural affiliation"

THE QUESTION PERSISTS: should sport be allowed to stand unmolested, outside the law, to exist in its own hermetically sealed bubble? There is an argument that says, "Yes it should." Cricket is an industry-cum-business for which identification, and hence nationality, is important, so what harm is there in having stricter qualification rules? On the other hand, it would be nonsense to suggest that an England XI numbering constituents from Karachi, Cape Town, Perth and Port-of-Spain - let alone Dublin - is not representative of this multicultural nation. In any case, with all due deference to the cricketing aspirations of the Celtic nations, "England" is a nonsensical identifier. In terms of personnel, "England and Wales", "Britain" and "British Isles" would all be more accurate.

Other sports have similar issues. The All Blacks' success on the rugby field owes much to players lured from the South Pacific, undermining the islands' own aspirations. New Zealanders with fictitious Welsh grandparents have played for Wales. In an era of multinational club sides, and nowhere more so than in England, soccer has its own difficulties. Witness not so much the headline over Matt Dickinson's column in the Times on September 8 - "Wanted: an Englishman to coach England" - but the almighty hoo-ha that greeted the suggestion that Fabio Capello, England's Italian coach, might pick Manuel Almunia, Arsenal's Spanish-born goalkeeper.

Roused by its evangelical new supreme, Michel Platini, a Frenchman bent on instilling greater equality and reducing greed, FIFA has resolved to take action, proposing the introduction of the so-called "six-five" rule, whereby clubs would be obliged to field teams numbering at least six players qualified for the national side. This would not, insists a 2008 statement on fifa.com, contravene the European Labour Law on freedom of movement. Six months later, European Union ministers said it clearly broke EU rules, whereupon FIFA commissioned a report from the Institute of European Affairs, whose chairman, Professor Jürgen Gramke, was adamant that there was no such conflict. The IEA report claims that, under EU law, the "regulatory autonomy" of sporting associations is recognised and supported: "The key aim of the 6+5 rule in the view of the experts is the creation and assurance of sporting competition. The 6+5 rule does not impinge on the core area of the right to freedom of movement. The rule is merely a rule of the game declared in the general interest of sport in order to improve the sporting balance between clubs and associations."

Last year, the website explained the rationale thus: "We need to ask supporters around the world the following questions: are you in favour of a strong national team? Are you in favour of national team players playing for the top clubs in your country's league? Are you in favour of youth players being trained and then getting access to the first team at their original club? Do you want players who have come through the youth system at a club to sign their first pro contact with that club? If you answer 'yes' to all these questions, then like me you are in favour of the '6+5' rule."

The crucial difference between soccer and cricket is that international cricket matters far more than international soccer, spiritually, culturally and economically. Which is why the main question asked of England followers by the ECB, were the board to propose a clampdown on selecting players trained overseas, would be rather different: "Are you in favour of anyone, suitably qualified by residence and/or ancestry, playing for the national team?" The answer, one suspects, would depend on the respondent's view of success. If winning Tests and tournaments are the only things that matter, the response would almost certainly be, "Yes, so long as they're good enough."

Yes, but what if England were to field an all-South African-bred XI? Should cricket impose its own "six-five" rule, whereby the majority of the members of any national team would have to have been schooled in Britain? Of one thing we can be certain: the arguments will intensify before they abate.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sorcerer on October 2, 2009, 17:02 GMT

    How can anyone not doubt the loyalty of some of these imports after KP's casual yet insolent retort to a reporter published here in Cricinfo some months ago that a show of lack of morality should not be attribute to him: "It's your country mate!" was what he said about England.

  • Manush on October 2, 2009, 2:54 GMT

    It is a good strep taken by England in their selection policy with regard to palayers of foreign origin, which must be emulated by rest of the countries which are part of ICC. This must be made compulsory so that the right and good talents are not missed out or wasted, by any Country.

    One can think of restricting the numbers of such players in the playing eleven at a time, like what is being done T20 games so that local talents do not miss out.

  • historyman40 on October 1, 2009, 21:13 GMT

    I agree with the view expressed many years ago by Trevor Bailey. Players should only represent the country where they grew up and learned their cricket. Unlike the people running Lodon's Tube or BA these people are representing a country and it should be THEIR country. If we continue to pick foreigners the team name should be changed from England to Vodafone or whoever their main sponsor is.

  • RomanNoseJob on October 1, 2009, 20:09 GMT

    Rodstark, while I agree with your point, I think the problem is we're letting turn into a mercenary business against our will. Sport thrives as a form of entertainment, nothing fundamentally important is achieved by winning or losing a cricket match. Football is another sport where the game is being torn apart by money and a handful of clubs dominating the rest.

    England's team should reflect it's multi-cultural population. It should not reflect that it's easier to make more money by playing cricket in England, which is clearly what the inclusion of Pietersen and Trott represent.

    I think the EU needs to create some exceptions to the rule for high paying sport. Anyone can come and play in the county divisions (or premier league), but I hardly see someone being denied the oppertunity to make hundreds of thousands playing for an international cricket (or football) team as a pressing concern for EU law.

  • beyondthunderdome on October 1, 2009, 19:52 GMT

    The England rugby team is the most ridiculous example of this nonsense... Riki Flutey doesn't even have a British passport! Hape will soon find himself in the England team too if he's not careful. Anyone who tries to pad out their lazy journalism with references to the All Blacks mythical 'poaching' of Pacific Island players doesn't understand the NZ/Polynesian dynamic and isn't worth reading; I wonder what kind of research methods Mr Steen advocates on his Sports Journalism course?

  • RodStark on October 1, 2009, 16:37 GMT

    Well, I fully believe there's a big difference between players choosing between two full test-playing countries and choosing a test-playing country over a non-test-playing country. The Irish players for England have no opportunity to play tests for Ireland. I do think that they should continue to be available for Ireland when not required by England.

    But what would happen if a really talented player emerged from, say, the USA or France? Should they be allowed to pick a country and play immediately, to have to go through lengthy qualification periodfs, or not be allowed to play high-level international cricket at all?

  • StaalBurgher on October 1, 2009, 10:49 GMT

    @DanG - Jonathan Trott was in the Helshoogte Koshuis at Stellenbosch University. How do I know this? He was in the room next door to one of my mates. Although he might've moved to UCT for his final year as plenty of english-first-language students do when the course gets tough and they don't get dual-language class notes.

  • FattyP on October 1, 2009, 10:11 GMT

    Agree with Greevis here.

    I'm sick and tired of the English criticising the All Blacks for poaching players.

    In the current squad, just five of them weren't BORN in NZ (Rokocoko moved when he was 5, Muliaina when he was 2 - the other three - Toeava, Kaino and So'oialo all went to school in NZ, so moved when they were teenagers at the latest) and that's out of 30-odd players.

    Compare that to the English team - you have Ricky Flutey (NZ) - moved to England at age 25, after playing NZ reps at age group. Delon Armitage (Trinidad) - tried to play for France at age group level before coming back to London at age 17. Dylan Hartley (NZ) - Moved to England age 18ish Simon Shaw (Kenya) - Moved to England age 17ish Steffon Armitage (Trinidad) - same as his brother, but a year older. And the suspended Matt Stevens (South Africa) - moved when he was 20.

    SO, England have way more overseas born rugby players than the All Blacks... and they all moved when they were considerably older!!

  • don69 on October 1, 2009, 10:05 GMT

    would like to add regarding the Irish players: had England stuck to the guideline that sportsmen who represented another country internationally have a "cool off" period of 4 years, this couldn't happen. With Petersen this was never a problem - he never represented SA. However the Irish players who chose to play for England were former internationals. Now, if you told them - "you are going to be losing 4 years on an international career if you want a chance to play for England, and no guarantee you will be be picked then" - that would make it a major choice. That was the kind of choice some of the SA players had to make. As to loyalty to country, sorry, but living in England for 20 years doesn't make you a "better" or "more loyal" Englishman than one immigrating (for whatever reason). Just look at what Petersen has to endure when he comes back to his "homeland". If you are willing to commit to a country, and pay the price of moving,you are equal to one born there.

  • popcorn on October 1, 2009, 9:12 GMT

    England is a true melting pot.The ONLY Country to have descendants or migrants selected to play for England SOLELY on merit - not on Anglo -Saxon lineage. To this end, England deserves credit.

  • Sorcerer on October 2, 2009, 17:02 GMT

    How can anyone not doubt the loyalty of some of these imports after KP's casual yet insolent retort to a reporter published here in Cricinfo some months ago that a show of lack of morality should not be attribute to him: "It's your country mate!" was what he said about England.

  • Manush on October 2, 2009, 2:54 GMT

    It is a good strep taken by England in their selection policy with regard to palayers of foreign origin, which must be emulated by rest of the countries which are part of ICC. This must be made compulsory so that the right and good talents are not missed out or wasted, by any Country.

    One can think of restricting the numbers of such players in the playing eleven at a time, like what is being done T20 games so that local talents do not miss out.

  • historyman40 on October 1, 2009, 21:13 GMT

    I agree with the view expressed many years ago by Trevor Bailey. Players should only represent the country where they grew up and learned their cricket. Unlike the people running Lodon's Tube or BA these people are representing a country and it should be THEIR country. If we continue to pick foreigners the team name should be changed from England to Vodafone or whoever their main sponsor is.

  • RomanNoseJob on October 1, 2009, 20:09 GMT

    Rodstark, while I agree with your point, I think the problem is we're letting turn into a mercenary business against our will. Sport thrives as a form of entertainment, nothing fundamentally important is achieved by winning or losing a cricket match. Football is another sport where the game is being torn apart by money and a handful of clubs dominating the rest.

    England's team should reflect it's multi-cultural population. It should not reflect that it's easier to make more money by playing cricket in England, which is clearly what the inclusion of Pietersen and Trott represent.

    I think the EU needs to create some exceptions to the rule for high paying sport. Anyone can come and play in the county divisions (or premier league), but I hardly see someone being denied the oppertunity to make hundreds of thousands playing for an international cricket (or football) team as a pressing concern for EU law.

  • beyondthunderdome on October 1, 2009, 19:52 GMT

    The England rugby team is the most ridiculous example of this nonsense... Riki Flutey doesn't even have a British passport! Hape will soon find himself in the England team too if he's not careful. Anyone who tries to pad out their lazy journalism with references to the All Blacks mythical 'poaching' of Pacific Island players doesn't understand the NZ/Polynesian dynamic and isn't worth reading; I wonder what kind of research methods Mr Steen advocates on his Sports Journalism course?

  • RodStark on October 1, 2009, 16:37 GMT

    Well, I fully believe there's a big difference between players choosing between two full test-playing countries and choosing a test-playing country over a non-test-playing country. The Irish players for England have no opportunity to play tests for Ireland. I do think that they should continue to be available for Ireland when not required by England.

    But what would happen if a really talented player emerged from, say, the USA or France? Should they be allowed to pick a country and play immediately, to have to go through lengthy qualification periodfs, or not be allowed to play high-level international cricket at all?

  • StaalBurgher on October 1, 2009, 10:49 GMT

    @DanG - Jonathan Trott was in the Helshoogte Koshuis at Stellenbosch University. How do I know this? He was in the room next door to one of my mates. Although he might've moved to UCT for his final year as plenty of english-first-language students do when the course gets tough and they don't get dual-language class notes.

  • FattyP on October 1, 2009, 10:11 GMT

    Agree with Greevis here.

    I'm sick and tired of the English criticising the All Blacks for poaching players.

    In the current squad, just five of them weren't BORN in NZ (Rokocoko moved when he was 5, Muliaina when he was 2 - the other three - Toeava, Kaino and So'oialo all went to school in NZ, so moved when they were teenagers at the latest) and that's out of 30-odd players.

    Compare that to the English team - you have Ricky Flutey (NZ) - moved to England at age 25, after playing NZ reps at age group. Delon Armitage (Trinidad) - tried to play for France at age group level before coming back to London at age 17. Dylan Hartley (NZ) - Moved to England age 18ish Simon Shaw (Kenya) - Moved to England age 17ish Steffon Armitage (Trinidad) - same as his brother, but a year older. And the suspended Matt Stevens (South Africa) - moved when he was 20.

    SO, England have way more overseas born rugby players than the All Blacks... and they all moved when they were considerably older!!

  • don69 on October 1, 2009, 10:05 GMT

    would like to add regarding the Irish players: had England stuck to the guideline that sportsmen who represented another country internationally have a "cool off" period of 4 years, this couldn't happen. With Petersen this was never a problem - he never represented SA. However the Irish players who chose to play for England were former internationals. Now, if you told them - "you are going to be losing 4 years on an international career if you want a chance to play for England, and no guarantee you will be be picked then" - that would make it a major choice. That was the kind of choice some of the SA players had to make. As to loyalty to country, sorry, but living in England for 20 years doesn't make you a "better" or "more loyal" Englishman than one immigrating (for whatever reason). Just look at what Petersen has to endure when he comes back to his "homeland". If you are willing to commit to a country, and pay the price of moving,you are equal to one born there.

  • popcorn on October 1, 2009, 9:12 GMT

    England is a true melting pot.The ONLY Country to have descendants or migrants selected to play for England SOLELY on merit - not on Anglo -Saxon lineage. To this end, England deserves credit.

  • RomanNoseJob on September 30, 2009, 23:28 GMT

    I too am particularly concerned about england selecting Irish players when they are trying to develop. You've proposed an all south african XI, well what if england fielded an all Irish XI. that just doesn't make sense.

    It wouldn't make sense long before that, if Englands core of players, say 3 or 4 are Irish then why is England the one fielding them bolstered by Englishmen (or south africans) when the Ireland team could field a team of similar quality by playing their best players and bolstering them with Englishmen.

    I do hope, that when the time comes, the ICC would consider the quality of their players playing for England and also, if they awarded Ireland test status would allow all Irish players to instantly resume their careers playing for Ireland instead of waiting the two year re-qualification period.

  • OldAussie on September 30, 2009, 23:22 GMT

    What must be looked at is the uniquely frustrating nationalistic nature of the boards making up the ICC. If this doesn't change, a mismatch would develop between the players chosen and the boards [eg Zimbabwe!]. The ICC makes many bad decisions, especially about the umpires -recall Darryl Hair? The other issue is that the market is skewed in favour of rich countries. Cricket must build local competititons in, say, Bangladesh and the West Indies, who cannot afford to import expensive players. Both countries have proven talent pools. English cricket has failed in this way compared with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Why should it think it would improve public allegiance if it became a fine but completely mercenary team like its soccer teams?

  • jones-kerry on September 30, 2009, 22:58 GMT

    Ex worcester-fan, now, Ireland fan. We were delighted that Dolly & Hicky came to Worcester. Great examples of 'blow-ins' becoming exemplary servants of the club. I'm in favour of relaxing rules - let people go where they will, (it's a global village) but it's odd that England (with 60 million including the celts), cant find 11 home grown test grade cricketers. Can I remind you: a) Morgan is the 2nd Irishman to be poached just before a World Cup (i.e.Joyce 2007?); b) it was Morgan's ace fielding helped England beat the Irish in Belfast. Ireland is a developing nation in cricketing terms. It needs all the help it can get. Isn't broadening international cricket strengthening the game? an earlier point:while it's easy for England to provide a career path for promising Irishmen, perhaps they could also looking at easing the escape route back for Irishman no longer needed. Or would they just be too worried about playing an Irish team that included Ed Joyce? Joyce & Morgan? Oneway traffic?

  • jackiethepen on September 30, 2009, 22:48 GMT

    I am concerned about Morgan playing for England when he has clearly being playing for Ireland. I just don't see the logic of that. How can he play for both nations within a month of the games? Strauss migrated to this country when he was 7 so surely he was schooled here? That would be enough for him to be available for England. Presumably he couldn't be selected for SA because of the same fact. Trott and Pietersen represent cricketing migrants who think they won't be able to get into their own national team. I think the only way round this is if they have a legitimate reason for choosing England i.e. one of their parents are English. I think that is acceptable. But otherwise I think that selectors should bar players who just want to move to a country to play internationally. We could have players migrating from the rest of the world. Then it would be more like a mercenary team representing "England" rather than our own homegrown players. Not sure that would be fair or desirable.

  • RodStark on September 30, 2009, 20:36 GMT

    A couple of unrelated points:

    First, in the 21st century, people are just going to move around a lot more, and England should be proud that they are apparently the most multi-cultural country in the sense that dubiously-English players are eager to play for them. I don't see much movement in the other direction--England-born players rushing to play for New Zealand or Bangladesh.

    Second, I think cricket (and even football fans to some extent) are living in a rather idealistic world when they ask modern athletes to put country before highly paid contracts. I recently saw an article where the coach of the Chicago Bulls was asked in he would allow Luol Deng to play international basketball for England, and his response was (I think) that Deng might need to be rested so as the be fit for the NBA. Is this the future of the IPL and similar leagues?

  • SunAndSea on September 30, 2009, 20:19 GMT

    NZ-COWPAT What does that drivel you wrote have to do with the article? Seems you suffer from a persecution complex. Go see a counselor. Ta.

  • Greevis on September 30, 2009, 20:08 GMT

    I can't believe the hoary old chestnut about the All Blacks poaching Pacific Island rugby players has been raised here as fact; this just shows the ignorance of the writer. Unless anyone seriously considers that NZ 'poaches' primary school children, there is no argument.

    The reality is there is significant migration from the Pacific Islands to New Zealand and Australia, for the same reasons as there is migration from rural areas and small towns to bigger ones - opportunity. And it is the oppertunity of the parents, not the children who they bring with them that go on to play for the All Blacks that the move is made.

    See this website for some facts and figures: http://www.dropkicks.co.nz/statistics/get_me_some_stats_stat

  • b52craft on September 30, 2009, 19:39 GMT

    People should only be allowed to represent the country of their birth . You see too many sportsmen in internationals who do not know the words to the national anthem of the team they are playing for .

  • jockozzy on September 30, 2009, 18:14 GMT

    Sorry couldn't leave it go......Poachedfromthecradle what about the players that the AB's steal from Tonga and Samoa who have repped their respective countries. They then use them discard them and then they are back repping their original country again......can't pronounce any of the names but Tuegamala was def one. Also Brad Thorn repped for Oz in league and now back for second stint with AB's. Now about cricket I thought that Greig, Lamb etc had no choice if they wanted to play test cricket they had to play for the Poms. No problem there I wish Barry Richards had been able to do that. However this new trend of imports is a disgrace, both to the Saffas and the Poms. one can't identify and keep their talent and the other can't develop their own. Pretty sad. Politics should stay with the Pollys and sport should be for the sportsmen....no quotas etc and no ringin's. How can KP Trott etc talk about what an honour it is to play for their country? They sound about as Pommy as Gordon Brown.

  • mecrazy on September 30, 2009, 17:45 GMT

    as was said before: people migrate across borders for many reasons. it is ridiculous to suggest that south african sportsmen/women left the country because of "non-selection" or quotas. even though some may use that as an excuse, there's always more to that story. i can be just as ridiculous and say:" the reason so many south african pop up in other national teams, is because we (south africans) are just better at sport than them.

    My opinion is that no matter who plays for whom, the objective is to win. and i wish all sportsmen/women the best. the opposite is also true- if you dont win, you will not be kept in the team. no matter where you come from.

  • Anneeq on September 30, 2009, 17:45 GMT

    It should matter really, national teams are like ambassadors to the country, u cant be an ambassador if ur not from the place ur representing. KP in my opinion shouldnt have been allowed to play as he isnt a product of the English youth academy. Settled subcontinent players that play for Canada and USA for example although not ideal, is permissable because they were born in the country and came through their national academy.

  • dragqueen1 on September 30, 2009, 16:50 GMT

    an intresting article & one that raises important questions for the game. one of the benefits of the explostion in T20 is that it will help to globalise the game and certainly there are smaller countries making strides but if Test cricket is the yardstick by which the best measure themselves, sportsman being sportsman will want to test themselves in that arena against the best but in a sport where that top level is restricted to a select few those on the outside are left with little option to change nationality if they want to compete, it is possible for example to imagine in 10 years an England Vs Pakistan Test with half a dozen Irish and Afghan players in the sides.

  • rooster07 on September 30, 2009, 16:48 GMT

    The vast majority of the players of Pacific Islands' descent who have played rugby for the All Blacks did not move to New Zealand purely to play rugby. Virtually all, with admitedly a few exceptions, were either born in New Zealand or moved with their families when primary school age or younger. It is grossly inaccurate to say the country's rugby team's success is the result of luring promising Samoan, Tongan and Fijian rugby players into switching countries.

  • klownact on September 30, 2009, 15:46 GMT

    It's all in the winning and losing. To paraphrase Michael Flanders, a favourable result and it is "Another Triumph For Great Britain!" AN unfavourable result and it is "England Lose Again!"

  • pochard on September 30, 2009, 14:48 GMT

    "Captain and star player, both South Africans: should it matter?" ... Duh, no. "Of one thing we can be certain: the arguments will intensify before they abate." Only as long as journalists write inflammatory and poorly researched articles like this one. Come to the east end of London in August and see how many cricket games are being played in the parks - countless. Then check the backgrounds of those playing and see if your article makes an iota of sense then.

  • milesahead on September 30, 2009, 14:42 GMT

    This is an easy predicament to solve if you are of a single nationality, e.g of 100% South African stock. The issue becomes blurred, however, if you are, say, 50% South African and 50% English. People always have had and always will have, national pride. Yet with a split family tree it's difficult to pin down loyalties, especially if you have spent significant time in each country and are familiar with the cultures and customs of both. I suppose it then comes down to the most suitable environment in which to improve yourself as a sportsman. I feel that it is easy to justify the inclusion of Pietersen based on his ancestry. With the Almunia case highlighted in the article, however, it is not so easy. In no way shape or form is he English in culture or upbringing. Legally, however, he is. So it really depends if sport remains in the hands of sentiment or law. The individual can always choose his own destiny though.

  • mittheimp on September 30, 2009, 14:04 GMT

    You should have emigrated to your adopted country for non cricketing reasons to qualify - specific cricket mercenaries like Pieterson should not be English qualified. The likes of Malcolm, Gladstone Small no problem!

  • sslapper on September 30, 2009, 14:03 GMT

    Trapper439...I think the author knows that there is more money in football than cricket. I can only presume that he means that the club vs country debate is very different in the cricket world. International cricket is where the money is, compared to domestic cricket...not so in football

  • bbbally on September 30, 2009, 13:44 GMT

    The rules regarding eligibility are farcical. Eoin Morgan plays a game for Ireland on the 15th April and is them named in the English 20/20 squad for the World champs. I can fully understand Eoin's wish to play Test cricket and more internationals, the fault lies with the rules. Very different rules if he wishes to play again for Ireland though. What a joke the ICC are in stating they want to promote cricket world wide when they allow this to happen. Go the Black Caps on Saturday!

  • vonsolms on September 30, 2009, 12:38 GMT

    Your article brings up the interesting connection between sporting allegiance and nationality. In cricket there is a strong connection, but where the REAL money is - football - the issue is less clear-cut. I would suggest that many football supporters feel greater allegiance to their clubs than their countries. Upping the stakes even more, in the U.S. the idea of sporting allegiance being linked with nationality is almost non-existent (at least where the big money is). The interest in games between nations is moderate in ice-hockey, small in basketball, miniscule in baseball, while in American Football (the real national sport) it is non-existent. Perhaps it will be the fate of sports like cricket and rugby that ultimately they will be club-based?

  • Mahesh_AV on September 30, 2009, 12:27 GMT

    Why should the ICC be involved in this and make a rule for all the cricket playing nations? It should be the issue of ECB only. How many non-Indians have played for India? How many non-Pakistanis have played for Pakistan? How many non-Sri Lankans have played for Sri Lanka? How many non West Indians have played for the West Indies? How many non South Africans played for South Africa? And, how many non Australians have played for Australia? Count them all and the total will not be more than the non Englishmen who have played, or are playing, for England. This is a local problem. ECB should put in whatever rules it wants. Not ask the ICC, and INTERNATIONAL council, to make a rule for all cricket playing nations. The ICC is not meant to solve England's local cricketing problems.

  • Poachedfromthecradle on September 30, 2009, 12:19 GMT

    I'm afraid my patience with this 'AB's poaching from the islands' rubbish has finally worn thin and I'm posting in response to one of these comments for the first time. I can only assume that the many British writers and commentators who spout this drivel have never been to NZ and certainly know nothing of its social demographics. I'm still chuckling at the thought of NZ rugby coaches pinching babies and toddlers from island cradles to groom them to play for the AB's. 'Cause that's how young most of these fellas were when they came to NZ; not for rugby, but for all the usual socio-economic reasons families emigrate to other countries. The remainder of them, with the two exceptions already mentioned here, were born in NZ. The best comparison I can draw is me assuming Ugo Monye or Gladstone Small or any person who plays for England who's not white has been poached and is not really English. Tosh! Come to NZ and avail yoursleves of our multi-cultural society, for everyone's sake.

  • Trapper439 on September 30, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    "The crucial difference between soccer and cricket is that international cricket matters far more than international soccer, spiritually, culturally and economically"

    Say that to a Brazilian or Argentinian and they'll quite rightly laugh in your face, Rob Steen. That is some seriously weapons-grade stupidity you're touting there.

  • critek on September 30, 2009, 11:37 GMT

    I have a slightly different answer for why SA sportsmen seek jobs outside. The answer lies in the history.. and the ugly word - apartheid. During the banned era, many sports people, not willing to die an anonymous death decided to look for options outside. Allan Lamb, Hick etc. Their movement created a career path which found many imitators - even in the post apartheid era only 15-20 get to don the national colors. Yes, a well defined career path is not the only reason, but it is a significant one. Else you would see Murali playing for India or Bangaldeshi players jumping the porus fence.

  • DWP1 on September 30, 2009, 11:22 GMT

    Very interesting article. @ NZ-Expat: Your comments that South Africa's early demise from the tournament is "a sign of the times" and that for some reason SA sport will soon collapse is frankly quite ridiculous. Both South Africa's cricket and rugby sides are the strongest they've been in 20-30 years and despite all the leavers there is still loads of reserve talent! Out of the 11 SA players mentioned in the article it is only Pietersen and, perhaps in test matches, Strauss that would get into the current SA side. So I don't think anyone could take your comments too seriously. On the overall point: England has become an incredibly diverse country with millions of immigrants from across the world and it should come as no surprise that many of these players would make it to the highest level. I do think that someone like Morgan, however, is a bit different as this is the only real case where England poached a player from another side - far different from the SA situation.

  • saffergramps on September 30, 2009, 10:49 GMT

    To NZ-EXPAT

    Was was startled to read your frankly ignorant and prejudicial comments. You are implying a lot, and I think you know what I mean. Your comment is another typical load of nonsense coming from some one who doesn't know anything at all about what is happening on the ground. Our country (SA) is survived far worse, so you can take a hike with your assumptive views. The situation on the ground is much more compliacted then your simple minded post lets other to believe, so I suggest you do you research. The fact that you are an expat says it all.

    Very interesting read. I would find it interesting if such an occassion were to take place, but I think what is happening is merely a symptom of the professionalisation of sport. People change countries for jobs, so why not the same for sport? Rob's notions in relation to sport being different and nationalism being tied in with the grand sports enterprise ring true. We will see how the situation develops over the next few years.

  • sharkattack on September 30, 2009, 10:27 GMT

    The simple fact is that many of these South African players leave to play in the UK and other countries because of various reasons, the most common being that they will be selected on ability and performances in the UK/elsewhere where opportunities at junior, franchise and national level is restricted by racial factors in South Africa. The safety and quality of life in South Africa is also not great. In response to Herbert I have lived in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uk and NZ and the level and quality of junior cricketers is well behind South Africa, despite all it's problems. An example is the England U19 team which toured South Africa last season and consisted of players who all have county contracts and with 1st class experience. They were meant to have been a very strong team. They not only lost the series to South Africa U19 but also lost to a South African U17 team whose players are all still at school. In South Africa youngsters strive to be excellent, not so in the UK.

  • Stevros on September 30, 2009, 10:01 GMT

    WilliamFranklin I'm confused. you said: "Pieterson's mother is English. He's perfectly entitled to play for England as a result. Trott's 'claims' are slighty less strong i would say..." Does that mean you feel that the fact Trott's father is English should be less valid than than Pietersen's mother??

  • mosse on September 30, 2009, 9:59 GMT

    I'm not exactly suprised South Africa are losing so many talented players. The reason is behind the selectors as they never change the squad!! Look, In the World T20 Series in June there was only 1 change (Morne Morkel for Jaqcues Kallis.) What is the use of submitting 15 talented players if you only use 12? I'm quite suprised that McLaren came back to South Africa. And the funny thing is that South Africa have probably never had a foreign player before! Even in the recent Champions Trophy, There was not a single change.

    EXTRACT FROM CRICKET SA MAGAZINE: Why is Arthur or Smith making no changes to the SA Limited overs side (8 players play Test Cricket)? SA CRICKET REPLIES: They want to use their best side.

  • Nduru on September 30, 2009, 9:58 GMT

    Having first created (and massively benefited from) a huge empire and then exported cricket to these colonies, I don't think England should be too narrow about who qualifies as an Englishman. Narrow nationalism is not good at the best of times, let alone in the context of the the UK, which is a core and a hegemony to so many on the periphery whose ancestral roots are there. Trott had a British passport all along, so just because he grew up in Cape Town does not make him less of a Brit. The same goes for Pietersen. The only time it seems a little dodgy is when players such as Morgan are poached from countries thay have already represented at senior level.

  • WilliamFranklin on September 30, 2009, 9:00 GMT

    Pieterson's mother is English. He's perfectly entitled to play for England as a result. Trott's 'claims' are slighty less strong i would say...

  • HermY on September 30, 2009, 8:51 GMT

    The writer forgets an important issue: the see-saw between County Champioinship rules and Test selection: why do people like the South Africans, but also Amshad Khan, Eoian Morgan and many others choose to become eligible for England? Only because the County championship rules restrict sides to one (or is it two nowadays ?) players who are not eligible for England. If that rule were to be dropped, do you think as many as this would change eligibility? I doubt it. I find it quite alright if Pietersen choses to play for England rather than South Africa, if that is where his heart lies. But if it's his wallet talking, ... One more word about players like Khan, Morgan and Hamilton. Isn't it time that the test side currently called "England" be changed to "Europe"? And that all European players be eligible for it? And that they at the same time be eligible for the ODI sides Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Wales, and ... England?

  • contrast_swing on September 30, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    Hi Rob Very interesting article. I agree with you that the concept of a nation is undergoing revisions and sports sooner or later will have to adapt according to the concept of a nation. But I dont agree with you that current cricketer is not willing to "carry the responsibility for nationalist pride, regional integration and the viability of the nation-state" I think that recently the influx of huge amounts of money in the cricket is responsible for say Flintoff choosing a Freelancer's role in cricket. If one leaves out the money factor I cricketers would again become nationalistic. Of course involvement of money that does not identify a player by his nationality, is also an indication of social-political change that the concept of nation is undergoing. Once again a very good write up.

  • DanG-CPT on September 30, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    One correction. Rob mentions that Trott was educated at 'the afrikaner answer to Oxford University'. The University of Cape Town, where Trott played cricket and was educated, is not Afrikaner in any way, shape or form. It is an English-medium university, the majority of whose students cannot understand Afrikaans. The comparison to Oxford is also a little off. UCT doesn't quite have that academic pedigree yet...otherwise, great article. Wiill we come to a point where national teams will be an anachronism, with player's being bought and traded as they are in the IPL.

  • shak01 on September 30, 2009, 8:38 GMT

    isn't it funny how in terms of cricket this is only an issue for England. I seem to recall an article a year or so ago saying that potential Saqlain Mushtaq could play for England after qualifying by virtue of his English wife. The comment about Manuel Almunia is slightly misplaced (need to remember that he has not represented Spain at any level, therefore under Fifa rules he isn't tied to Spanish side).

    I think a more interesting take on this whole thing is would the South Africans playing for England even get into the South Africa side at the moment (quota or no quota). I could see Pietersen potentially sneaking into the one day side at the expense of Hashim Amla but who would you drop to make room for him or any of the others in the test side? Personally I think a lot of these players just simply realised there are better players ahead of them in the SA pecking order and see England as an easy way to get to international cricket

  • Paul_M_NZ on September 30, 2009, 8:37 GMT

    Yes inverking, but Rokothoko moved here when he was 5! And Siti when he was 17.

    Most people don't realise but 1 in 5 New Zealander's were born overseas, so it only makes sense our sports teams have players born overseas (Elliot in current team)

    A lot of people claim we 'poach' pacific island players (particularly ignorant POME's!) but the truth is we send more to their teams than they send here! A lot of players playing for those teams (ie Nicky Little) grew up in NZ and play for the nation sides through ancestry qualification.

    More Pacific Islanders live in Auckland than any other city (Actual Islands included). And a lot live in Wellington (and Wellington's satellite cities) as well.

  • bestbuddy on September 30, 2009, 8:35 GMT

    Yes, very interesting, approaching the issue from the opposite perspective to Roebuck. Now if only someone would marry the two sides into one great article - why is a country with a bigger population and so much more money in the sport failing to produce its own born and bred cricketers, and instead having to rely on what is essentially a third world country to produce its current crop of sporting greats?

    @inverking, Rob Steen makes the point that while you can possibly discount players who have moved at a very young age, NZ does have a history of capping youngsters just to prevent them from returning to Samoa etc, in case they are good enough.

    Finally, I should point out that players such as Willoughby have appeared for SA at national level and so would never have bene available for England - and that includes the likes of van Jaarsveld and Jacques Rudolph...perhaps u19/u21 should be counted as representation of a country to prevent so much talent poaching...

  • gaffer.gamgee on September 30, 2009, 8:34 GMT

    Not an easy issue... There was something wincingly uncomfortable about Indian supporters chanting, during the World Twenty20 match at Lords in June, "You've got the whole world in your team". On the one hand, most of those fans vociferously identifying with the Indian team did not travel several thousand miles from Delhi, Chennai or Calcutta to watch the match and would be rightfully indignant (in most circumstances) if anyone questioned their right to be considered 'English'. Yet on the other hand they seemed to feel there is something inherently suspect about an English team fielding players with surnames such as Bopara, Mascarenhas--not to mention Panesar, Rashid etc. (Born respectively in Forest Gate, Chiswick, Luton and Bradford.)

  • NZ-XPAT on September 30, 2009, 8:20 GMT

    If Rob Steen is South African then I believe this article is based largely on "Sour Grapes". The fact of the matter is that the quality of life in South Africa (or should I say the lack of a future quality of life) has driven many South Africans to settle abroad. Its no wonder that ex-South Africans are popping up in almost every sport in every decent country, and excelling at their careers. Cricket, Rugby, Netball in NZ (Irene van Dyk - captain!!), swimming...need I say more. The day is coming when SA will not be able to field an internationally competitive team. Dale Steyn (arrogant idiot) stated that SA will be the team to beat in the Champions tournament and would not lose a game in the process. Well guess what - sign of the times - SA were the first to be dumped from the tournament. Enjoy what little time you have left - make memories because that is all you will have in years to come, South Africa!!!

  • Herbet on September 30, 2009, 8:19 GMT

    Just to finish off what I was saying before. I've said it on here enough times but nobody cares - Pietersen's mum is English. As a result of this he has as much right to represent England as anyone. Also, South Africans are always quick to point out that Pietersen, whilst overthere, was a nothing player and didn't achieve anything in junior cricket or for Natal. So, for all the talk of us nicking players formed in the South African "system", you could say that he only became a great player after his time in the English system?! All this talk of England being South Africa A is rhubarb. We currently have a large reserve of very talented young batsmenn and allrounders. The future of the England team is in Sam Northeast, Alex Hales, James Taylor, James Vince, Liam Dawson, Stephen Davies, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes (look them up), not to mention Alistair Cook, Joe Denly and Stuart Broad. All born within our fine shores.

  • Herbet on September 30, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    inverking, you say the comparison with the All Blacks is a poor one because "most of your so called poached Polynesian players were either born in New Zealand or came from the islands at a very young age (exceptions are sitiveni and Rokocoko)". Well all of the England cricket team from the ashes were born in England except 2, who came here at a very young age (Strauss, Prior) (exceptions are Pietersen and Trott - who have yet to play together), really its a very good comparison. I think this article is a bit spurious because most of those named here are nowhere near Test standard and won't get anywhere near the England Team. So what it basically says is that there are 11 people in England who were born in South Africa, which is of course true. If we aren't taking talent into consideration, England could field 11 Lithuanians, 11 Australians or 11 Poles. Basicaly find any country and 11 of its people will live in England.

  • Cricketza.com on September 30, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    What is wrong with Jacques Rudolph? Michael Lumb? Greg Smith? To be honest I am surprised Nic Pothas has not been used especially last yar when Prior was floundering.

  • ed.dixon on September 30, 2009, 7:52 GMT

    Emotive stuff. Personally I'm of the opinion that 'qualification through residency' is rubbish, and that it should be limited to first generation parentage - ie if one of your parents comes from a particular country, you can play for that country. It's no secret, despite Inverking's protestations, that NZ rugby coaches talent scout some pacific players at a very young age, so whilst it's true that they may have lived in NZ for some time, it may be NZ rugby that lured them there in the first place. Do I agree with Strauss and Pietersen playing for England? Yes, because although born abroad, both have at least one English parent. Do I agree with Graeme Hick playing for England - no. But by the same token, I would have no problem with Stuart Clark playing for England (English Parents), but I would like to think that national selectors of all national teams would focus on their own players first or cricket will descend into the sort of farcical arrangements surrounding football.

  • Itchy on September 30, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    Why bother having a 'national' team if you don't name any players from that country. I have no issue with Strauss or Prior since they have lived in England since they were kids but picking players that have moved as adults to play county cricket is ridiculous. Most countries in a variety of sports are guilty of this so picking on English cricket is a bit narrow-sighted (just think of all the ex-Kenyan middle distance runners competing for the Arab nations).

    If you are going to go down this path then nationality should be dropped (the nPower 11 vs the VB 11 for the Ashes?).

  • lamd on September 30, 2009, 7:09 GMT

    I am a bit confused by the concept of Englishness. The 'British' player Andy Murray always wins and the 'scottish' player Andy Murray always loses. These distinctions used by all the news channels till fairly recently always made me uncomfortable being an immigrant.

  • BellCurve on September 30, 2009, 7:06 GMT

    The problem mainly concerns England and South Africa. It is one of risk and return and 61 years (44+17) of bad politics. For promising young South Africans of European decent the risk-return balance of choosing the "county professional" route is considerably more favorable. That's why they leave their homeland for England. Few people grasp the extent of the genuine, tangible uncertainties that young white South Africans have to deal with. You could of course argue that they deserve to be in this situation, as they are partly responsible for the horrors of apartheid. However, someone like Craig Kieswetter was probably still in nappies when Mandela was released from prison. To hold him responsible for the crimes of a few bad men during an era when Communism posed a real threat, in my view, would be unfair. So let them come if they want to come. Embrace them; encourage them. Provided they are good enough.

  • don69 on September 30, 2009, 6:48 GMT

    Cricketing is a profession, just like any other. National representation is a step beyond that. While it seems the only question whether you can represent a country is one of nationality, the current limits imposed by most countries, where there is a minimal "cool off" period of 4 years should become uniform. So, assuming a cricketer desired to "look for greener pastures" he would be able to do so, but will be would have to write-off 4 years of his professional career (which is not that long). Of course, he will still have to also satisfy the immigration rules for the country he's moving to. Being able to play IN England (due to EC laws for example) still doen't grant you the chance to play FOR England. That would demand you become an English citizen. If England made you a citizen there is no reason why you can't represent her internationally.

  • Ferie on September 30, 2009, 6:40 GMT

    Interesting but facts right...Strauss's parent both Afrikaans....They came to UK to work. Pietersen mother British, educated,worked paid taxes in UK...His Gran a member of WAAFs during 2nd world war. Stationed at Dover Castle..Great Grandfather Sargeant Major in Grenedier Guards. Served in 1st World War injured on continent. Now how does that make Straus more eligible than Pietersen...........To be elligible must you only go to school in a country......Ferie

  • Chris_Howard on September 30, 2009, 6:05 GMT

    I thought this 10 years ago when Australia was at the peak of its powers, such that it was even fielding an Australia 'A' side. Look at guys like Jamie Siddons, Stuart Law, Martin Love etc. Wouldn't some other countries have loved to been able slot them into their side? Instead they languished in the domestic system. Sure Australia was who they really wanted to play for but what if there were other ways to play international cricket?. What if each side was allowed a couple of freelance players? It would help nations like Windies, Bangledesh and Zimbabwe immensely.

  • RiazFarooqui on September 30, 2009, 6:01 GMT

    I remember once KP said 'To become england captain one should be politician', it looks like england cricket board is running under some politicians. if you see the faces in the team since 1999 world cup, you will find almost complete team is changed no one is playing in the team who played in 1999 world cup, on the other hand other teams having some senior players still in the side, latest example 2005 Ashes Team 80% team members are no more in england team, england selectors are so hurry to throw out players from the team. that is not a good practice. I have seen Pakistan Hockey Team condition you will find same reason of declined hockey standard in Pakistan. in 80s selectors so quickly change the shape of the team and since then we are struggling to get our lost name in the world of Hockey.

  • inverking on September 30, 2009, 4:02 GMT

    Interesting article--|I was thinking the same thing last week. However, I don't agree with you trotting out the standard British cliche line about the All Blacks-check your facts; most of your so called poached Polynesian players were either born in New Zealand or came from the islands at a very young age (exceptions are sitiveni and Rokocoko). To repeat such a line, merely smacks of ignorance. NZ is a multi-cultural country with a significant Polynesian community. The fact that many polynesians play for the All Blacks is because their build ,speed and ability makes them ideal for the game. This is the reason why there are so many Polynesians in the All Blacks, not because NZ poached them.In fact, the English rugby team has had its fair share of recent imports including many South Africans and 3 New Zealanders (Flutey, Vanikolo and Paul).A bit of the pot calling the kettle black I'd suggest.Champions League go the black caps, good to see SA B made the semis over the safies.

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  • inverking on September 30, 2009, 4:02 GMT

    Interesting article--|I was thinking the same thing last week. However, I don't agree with you trotting out the standard British cliche line about the All Blacks-check your facts; most of your so called poached Polynesian players were either born in New Zealand or came from the islands at a very young age (exceptions are sitiveni and Rokocoko). To repeat such a line, merely smacks of ignorance. NZ is a multi-cultural country with a significant Polynesian community. The fact that many polynesians play for the All Blacks is because their build ,speed and ability makes them ideal for the game. This is the reason why there are so many Polynesians in the All Blacks, not because NZ poached them.In fact, the English rugby team has had its fair share of recent imports including many South Africans and 3 New Zealanders (Flutey, Vanikolo and Paul).A bit of the pot calling the kettle black I'd suggest.Champions League go the black caps, good to see SA B made the semis over the safies.

  • RiazFarooqui on September 30, 2009, 6:01 GMT

    I remember once KP said 'To become england captain one should be politician', it looks like england cricket board is running under some politicians. if you see the faces in the team since 1999 world cup, you will find almost complete team is changed no one is playing in the team who played in 1999 world cup, on the other hand other teams having some senior players still in the side, latest example 2005 Ashes Team 80% team members are no more in england team, england selectors are so hurry to throw out players from the team. that is not a good practice. I have seen Pakistan Hockey Team condition you will find same reason of declined hockey standard in Pakistan. in 80s selectors so quickly change the shape of the team and since then we are struggling to get our lost name in the world of Hockey.

  • Chris_Howard on September 30, 2009, 6:05 GMT

    I thought this 10 years ago when Australia was at the peak of its powers, such that it was even fielding an Australia 'A' side. Look at guys like Jamie Siddons, Stuart Law, Martin Love etc. Wouldn't some other countries have loved to been able slot them into their side? Instead they languished in the domestic system. Sure Australia was who they really wanted to play for but what if there were other ways to play international cricket?. What if each side was allowed a couple of freelance players? It would help nations like Windies, Bangledesh and Zimbabwe immensely.

  • Ferie on September 30, 2009, 6:40 GMT

    Interesting but facts right...Strauss's parent both Afrikaans....They came to UK to work. Pietersen mother British, educated,worked paid taxes in UK...His Gran a member of WAAFs during 2nd world war. Stationed at Dover Castle..Great Grandfather Sargeant Major in Grenedier Guards. Served in 1st World War injured on continent. Now how does that make Straus more eligible than Pietersen...........To be elligible must you only go to school in a country......Ferie

  • don69 on September 30, 2009, 6:48 GMT

    Cricketing is a profession, just like any other. National representation is a step beyond that. While it seems the only question whether you can represent a country is one of nationality, the current limits imposed by most countries, where there is a minimal "cool off" period of 4 years should become uniform. So, assuming a cricketer desired to "look for greener pastures" he would be able to do so, but will be would have to write-off 4 years of his professional career (which is not that long). Of course, he will still have to also satisfy the immigration rules for the country he's moving to. Being able to play IN England (due to EC laws for example) still doen't grant you the chance to play FOR England. That would demand you become an English citizen. If England made you a citizen there is no reason why you can't represent her internationally.

  • BellCurve on September 30, 2009, 7:06 GMT

    The problem mainly concerns England and South Africa. It is one of risk and return and 61 years (44+17) of bad politics. For promising young South Africans of European decent the risk-return balance of choosing the "county professional" route is considerably more favorable. That's why they leave their homeland for England. Few people grasp the extent of the genuine, tangible uncertainties that young white South Africans have to deal with. You could of course argue that they deserve to be in this situation, as they are partly responsible for the horrors of apartheid. However, someone like Craig Kieswetter was probably still in nappies when Mandela was released from prison. To hold him responsible for the crimes of a few bad men during an era when Communism posed a real threat, in my view, would be unfair. So let them come if they want to come. Embrace them; encourage them. Provided they are good enough.

  • lamd on September 30, 2009, 7:09 GMT

    I am a bit confused by the concept of Englishness. The 'British' player Andy Murray always wins and the 'scottish' player Andy Murray always loses. These distinctions used by all the news channels till fairly recently always made me uncomfortable being an immigrant.

  • Itchy on September 30, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    Why bother having a 'national' team if you don't name any players from that country. I have no issue with Strauss or Prior since they have lived in England since they were kids but picking players that have moved as adults to play county cricket is ridiculous. Most countries in a variety of sports are guilty of this so picking on English cricket is a bit narrow-sighted (just think of all the ex-Kenyan middle distance runners competing for the Arab nations).

    If you are going to go down this path then nationality should be dropped (the nPower 11 vs the VB 11 for the Ashes?).

  • ed.dixon on September 30, 2009, 7:52 GMT

    Emotive stuff. Personally I'm of the opinion that 'qualification through residency' is rubbish, and that it should be limited to first generation parentage - ie if one of your parents comes from a particular country, you can play for that country. It's no secret, despite Inverking's protestations, that NZ rugby coaches talent scout some pacific players at a very young age, so whilst it's true that they may have lived in NZ for some time, it may be NZ rugby that lured them there in the first place. Do I agree with Strauss and Pietersen playing for England? Yes, because although born abroad, both have at least one English parent. Do I agree with Graeme Hick playing for England - no. But by the same token, I would have no problem with Stuart Clark playing for England (English Parents), but I would like to think that national selectors of all national teams would focus on their own players first or cricket will descend into the sort of farcical arrangements surrounding football.

  • Cricketza.com on September 30, 2009, 8:06 GMT

    What is wrong with Jacques Rudolph? Michael Lumb? Greg Smith? To be honest I am surprised Nic Pothas has not been used especially last yar when Prior was floundering.