I’ll be honest, I’m not particularly fond of the idea that an Aussie could wear an England shirt.
Or should I say, I wasn’t.
Up to now I’ve been a bit of a traditionalist. I think if you’re from England, you should play for England. If you’re Australian, you should play for Australia. I was never a fan of Rangi Chase playing for England, nor was I receptive to the idea when Chris McQueen and Chris Heighington featured a few years ago. You could call me a stubborn, narrow-minded twit in that regard, if you felt like it.
But my take on this changed a few months ago.
I, like many others, was completely entranced by the Cricket World Cup final, a match that I won’t need to tell you England won.
I’m not particularly a cricket fan. I’ve been to a few Twenty/20 games for alcohol-related purposes and I had an unspectacular junior career in which I amassed a career total of three runs.
But I was transfixed. After all, this was England in a World Cup final.
The man who bowled tremendously in that tournament-deciding Super Over was Jofra Archer. He was born in Barbados.
The reason England made the final was largely down to the South African opening batsman, Jason Roy, who pummelled the Aussies in the semi-final, much to our delight.
Eoin Morgan, the England captain, was born in Dublin, too.
When the decisive run out secured the World Cup, did I care? I did not! When Trafalgar Square erupted with the euphoria of the thousands of fans watching on, were anyone’s celebrations toned down because the team weren’t 100% born and bred English? I very highly doubt it. Had most of the millions watching around the country even given it a moment’s thought? Of course they hadn’t.
England had won the World Cup; that was all they cared about.
2021 is a monumental opportunity for Rugby League in this country. A World Cup on home soil provides an incredible chance to get new people interested in the sport like cricket has just done. If Blake Austin or Jackson Hastings can help England lift the trophy, and secure what could be the biggest boost to this country for generations, then frankly, let’s just get on with it.
And let’s face it. Every other country does it. The Aussies didn’t bat an eyelid in naming Semi Radradra, Petero Civoniceva and many others in years gone by, and I don’t remember anyone over here taking the moral high ground. Tonga has become the force they are now due to Aussies and Kiwis that have gone the other way. Nearly every Tier 2 nation is made up predominantly of heritage players. Do we ever moan that the Kangaroos are only so dominant because they draft in the best players from other countries? Of course we don’t.
So why shouldn’t we do the same?