Where have all England's black cricketers gone?
What's your take?
Where have all England's black cricketers gone?
What's your take?
There was an article somewhere else along these lines a little while ago, can't remember where. Don't know if it was discussed in CW, though.
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Think the article covers it pretty well. More & more of the talented black kids who would've played cricket a generation ago are playing football. Conversely there are next to no British Asian professional footballers (Michael Chopra is the only one I can think of off the top of my head) but we have a healthy sprinkling in our cricket team.
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Yeah, was a good article I thought. It'll be interesting to see how Robbie Joseph develops for Kent. He had made a good start to the season before his horror match against Durham a couple of weeks ago.
There are a number of reasons why as alluded to in the article.
Firstly, the changing demographics of the black population in the UK.
Between 1980 and 1997 10 black players debuted for England and only 2 of them (Syd and Neil Williams) were born in England. Lewis, Benjamin, Malcolm, DeFreitas, Small, Slack, Cowans and Roland Butcher (no relation to Mark Butcher) were all born in the West Indies.
England has never had a track record of producing British-born black cricketers.
In 1997 Mark Butcher and Dean Headley debuted. I wouldnt include them in this discussion for 2 reasons. Firstly they are not a typical product of a system as they come from cricketing dynasties with both their fathers being Test cricketers (Headley, father and Grandfather for WI and Butcher, father for England) and they grew up around the County scene. Secondly, they are mixed race.
In the 10 years since 1997 only Alex Tudor has played Test cricket for England.
THere are a number of reasons why, as the article touch on some.
1) Less first generation West Indians brought up on cricket in the Islands.
2) The change in the education system where school sport in the state system was reduced since 1985 and beyond.
3) The explosion of the Premier League and the domination of soccer. Football is easier to get into, pays better, is more glamerous etc. No suprises that more people play it and want to play it. For example in my year group at school out of 130 boys only 2 played cricket and football was the only sport the school offered.
4) Small black population to start with so no real suprise that there are not that many playing. According to the CIA Factbook the UK (as the cricket team doesnt purely draw from England) the population is 2% black.
5) Fashion. West Indian/Black players were very fashionable in the 1980s and going into the 1990s due to the incredible WI team of the time. This led to a number being selected. In fact a Wisden from the 1980s suggests limiting the number of West Indians a team could have. We have seen similar with Australians being fashionable in the 1990s (Mullally, White, McCague, Gallian, Adam Hollioake, Ben Hollioake). All part of England consciencely or subconsciencely attempting to mimic what superior teams were doing at the time with inferior players.
The numbers may be down at the moment but I would suggest that the 1980s had an unrealistic participation level that was always unlikely to be maintained. The current levels are probably closer to the natural 'norms' even if they may be on the low side of that.
Last edited by Goughy; 22-05-2007 at 03:38 PM.
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What's possibly more interesting is why there are so few Asian footballers. The fact that we have so many young Asian cricketers does suggest they perhaps have a stronger cultural bond to the sport, but it also possibly denotes a lesser level of integration into mainstream British culture. Sad to say but in England in sporting terms football pretty much is mainstream culture.
Love the way there's this assumption that black British kids would have Caribbean heroes, anyway...
One would guess that the some of the best selling football tops with white kids in the UK include guys like Drogba, Henry etc
Last edited by Goughy; 22-05-2007 at 04:08 PM.
There's no guarantee that they will or should, but I'd say a lot of black kids probably do have black heroes & role models and, as a minority, it's only healthy they do. I bet a heck of a lot more black kids look up to (say) Muhammad Ali or Michael Jordan than they do any current English cricketer.
But there are famous black guys everywhere, too - not just in the Caribbean.
Mihir Bose's article touches on my point:
"They (the EBC) want a strong West Indies team, or at least a stronger one than at present, as this would help create the sort of role models so essential if Afro-Carribean cricketers are once again to take centre stage in the English game."
There's a few cricketers of West Indian descent around in England, they just aren't good enough or old enough to be playing for the England team.
There's Westfield and Chambers at Essex.
Carberry at Hampshire...
Okay, now I'm out of ideas...
But there are some around. Certain teams just need to look at the Essex model of having training camps in the inner cities. Ravi Bopara, Graham Gooch and Nasser Hussain were all schooled at the Ilford version, so maybe those counties which serve big cities need to take advantage of this more.
Doesn't Viv Richards' son play in England?
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