It is amazing the furore England’s selection of Jonathan Trott has caused in some quarters in Australia. The question is why?
First of all people do not seem to understand that as popular as cricket is in England, the land of its birth, it does not have the proportional participation levels or interest that it holds in Australia.
Also as the County Championship is the only full time professional league in the world – South Africa and Australia’s provinces and states restricting game time – it attracts a number of overseas players.
As England many years ago had an Empire those countries that stayed part of the Commonwealth often lead to players having dual citizenship. In Australia, a country that is made up predominantly of migrants, the same is true many people have dual nationality.
Sure it is not a great indictment on the development of home grown cricketers that a South African born and raised player is selected for England, but just because Australia does not do it in cricket, does it forget the other sports where it too has adopted quality athletes?
England has for years had players represent the three lions with roots from elsewhere, Allan Lamb and the Smith brothers (Robin & Chris)born in South Africa, Graeme Hick born in Zimbabwe, Gladstone Small and Philip de Freitas born in the West Indies, Alan Mullally born in Australia, even Sir Colin Cowdrey born in India.
Andrew Symonds was born in England, is one going the other way. Having felt more Australian than English he wanted to play for the country he grew up in. Admittedly in this day and age his stance is rare.
However if we look at weightlifting, most of the team represented Turkey before Australia. Boxer Kostya Tzu is a good Australian, yet developed his talent in Russia, Vic Darchinyan is another from the same sport, this time from Armenia. In rugby union the front row for the Wallabies were all born overseas, Guy Shepherdson born in Indonesia, Matt Dunning born in Canada, Stephen Moore born in Saudi Arabia to Irish parents. (The others were born to Australian parents). Clyde Rathbone is another having won the Under 21 World Cup with South Africa a team he captained; he then jumped ship and played for the Wallabies. Lote Tuquiri played Rugby League for Fiji and then rugby Union for the Wallabies. Tim Cahill is the youngest male football international having played for Samoa, he is now a fully fledged Socceroo.
Let us all take a pace back and look at what we would do. If we had the talent and one nation gave us the chance to play our sport at the highest level, and we could walk out there in their colours and do it with pride, would we turn down that opportunity?
In today’s world where migration is more prevalent this is bound to happen more often. What does need to be done across the board is criteria in all sports to be the same. It needs to be a rule that encompasses all international sport, and not be different for cricket, rugby or football. If you have represented one country at under 19 level or above then you should have to serve a term of residency before you can play for your adopted country, as Allan Lamb, the Smith brothers and Graeme Hick all had to do.
Time to stop throwing stones in glasshouses and sit back and admire the skill of these individuals, as long as they deserve to be there and have met the required qualifications.