That’s a bit better. Touch cream crackered, you see. I’ve just been talking – at excruciating, second skin-growing length – to a couple of carping Australians about cricket. More specifically, about English cricket. It’s been exhausting – well, tiresome.
On and on and on they went about how “England” (their speech marks) can only win by plundering the Commonwealth (“a-fucking-gain”); about how there were times in the Ashes when there wasn’t an Englishman on the park; about… Sorry, going to have to yawn again. Just a minute…
…Yeah, so, they were bleating, like, ON? About how now we’ve got, like, Morgan TOO? About how England don’t develop their own PLAYERS? But just CHERRY-PICK them. From the former COLONIES? About how, next, we’ll be picking, like, fucking UGANDANS? And Falkland ISLANDERS?
Fair go – I’m not actually denying that, historically, the England team has availed itself of some exotic talents, just that, well, they came to us.
In addition to KP and Trott, we’ve utilised more than a few other Saffers (Robin Smith, Allan Lamb, Tony ‘Grovel’ Greig), several West Indian-born players (Phil DeFreitas, Gladstone Small, Devon Malcolm), Kiwis (Andy Caddick), Zimbabweans (Graeme Hick), Pakistanis (Owais Shah, Usman Afzaal), Indians (Nasser Hussain, Min Patel), and now Irish. However, amidst this quite frankly laudable openness toward the auslander, what particularly seems to rile the Aussies are, yes, the Aussies who, committing the ultimate sin, opt to play for the Mother Country: the Hollioakes, Geraint ‘Grant’ Jones, Allan Mullally and Martin bloody McCague. Lower than grovelling goannas.
Anyway, with all this teeth-gnashing and moral high ground-seeking, a few things have been somewhat overlooked by our bridling Antipodean cousins. I won’t mention rugby union – how the Australian Rugby Union side has not been averse to requisitioning the best South Sea islanders (I give you Fijian-born Lote Tuqiri, who scored the try in the 2003 World Cup final). No, I’m not going to mention that. Gonna stick to cricket…
The first thing to examine is the very notion of what constitutes an Australian. Our Strayan friends seem to forget that, save a tiny minority of players with some aboriginal bloodlines (Jason Gillespie, Dan Christian), strictly speaking, they are all descendants of immigrants… Trotts and Morgans every last one of ‘em. (Moreover, if you go back far enough in history, every nation is in this way ‘impure’, but that debate’s for another time.)
Leaving aside for now the fact that there obviously wouldn’t even be any “Australia” (my speech marks) – let alone England-Australia Tests – had we not set up a colony there and shipped off various unruly elements to help “nation-build” (i.e. steal resources and establish their subjugation) – we still need to ask: What is an Australian?
a fair dinkum Aussie bloke
Well, if we start from the date of Australian independence (1877, when they acquired dominion status; also the year of the first Test), we will see that the ethnic make-up of their team was predominantly Anglo-Saxon or Celtic. In fact, out of their 419 capped Test players, 24 are Mc/Mac variants, while there are 6 O’Whatevers. That’s 30 ultra-Celtic names. This is what the majority of whingeing Aussies are referring to when they speak of “our identity”: displaced Celts.
So, bearing this Anglo-Celtic legacy in mind, let’s have a look at an XI taken from some of the players who have popped up in Aussie sides in the last 15 years or so, since the dawn of their (now faded) dominance, paying particular attention to their surnames:
1/ Micheal DiVenuto
2/ Simon Katich (c)
3/ Phil Jaques
4/ Usman Khawaja
5/ Darren Lehmann
6/ Adam Voges
7/ Luke Ronchi (wk)
8/ Ashley Noffke
9/ Jason Krejza
10/ Mike Kasprowicz
11/ Ben Hilfenhaus
12th/ Nathan Hauritz
Some pretty fuckin’ fair dinkum Strayan appellations there, eh cobber?
The second thing to deal with is the knicker-twisted lather they get into about England’s foreign-born players, implying that Australia has never played anyone who wasn’t born a weak sheilah’s half-slung boomerang chuck from a coolabah tree. Strewth.
Well, here’s the thing: the man (retroactively) given Baggy Green #001, Charles Bannerman, Test cricket’s first centurion, was born in Woolwich. In London. In England. In fact, six of that Australian side for the inaugural Test match were born abroad. Over half. Add to that the fact that the most recent Test cap was born in Islamabad and that’s a pretty watertight rebuttal of the Aussie argument. Nothing more needs to be said…
Out of interest, here’s an all-time Aussie team of players born offshore:
1/ Kepler Wessels – Bloemfontein, South Africa
2/ Charles Bannerman – Woolwich, UK
3/ Usman Khawaja – Islamabad, Pakistan
4/ Andrew Symonds – Birmingham, UK
5/ Dav Whatmore – Colombo, Ceylon [now Sri Lanka]
6/ Moises Henriques – Funchal, Madeira (ODI, T20)
7/ Luke Ronchi – Dannevirke, NZ (ODI, T20)
8/ Ken MacLeay – Bath-on-Avon, Wiltshire (ODI only)
9/ Brendon Julian – Hamilton, NZ
10/ Steve O’Keefe – Malaysia (T20 only)
11/ Clarrie Grimmett – Dunedin, NZ
So, there you go. Aussies have had their fair share of foreign-born players, too. Fact. Nothing more to discuss. Take your medicine.
A tip: if you want to pick up a bit more talent from around the globe, go get yourself an empire. Oh no, bit late now, what with the Treaty of Versailles and whatnot (although this is redundant, given that you’re sat in the back of the Yute drinking schooners of piss, which is hardly ideal preparation for conquest, ya bloody Bogan).