Black cricketers may sue over claim they lack commitment

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The Independent Online

The cricketers Devon Malcolm and Phillip DeFreitas were today consulting lawyers over a claim that black players in the England team lack the commitment of "unequivocal" Englishmen.

An article by Robert Henderson in Wisden Cricket Monthly, an offshoot of the cricketer's bible Wisden, says British-born West Indians are "resentful and separatist". Mr Henderson, a freelance contributor, said he saw no reason why Test players including DeFreitas should not share the same "mentality".

"At the very least, it is difficult to see how playing for England could be anything more than a means of personal enhancement and achievement for players of West Indian ancestry," wrote Mr Henderson. He also claims the "interlopers" have a detrimental effect on the "unequivocally English" players.

"The common experience of mixed groups makes it immensely difficult to accept that a changing room comprising say six Englishmen, two West Indians, two Southern Africans and a New Zealander is going to develop the same camaraderie as 11 unequivocal Englishmen," he writes.

He says teachers, politicians and the media have "conspired" to remove a "sense of pride" in the hearts of those who are "unequivocally English".

"All the England players whom I would describe as foreigners may well be trying at a conscious level, but is that desire to succeed instinctive, a matter of biology? There lies the heart of the matter," he writes.

The article has deeply offended Malcolm and DeFreitas, both Derbyshire players. Reg Taylor, general manager of Derbyshire County Cricket Club, said both were consulting lawyers with a view to taking legal action against the magazine.David Frith, its editor, said the article was an attempt to start a serious debate.

He added: "I don't think it's outrageous ... If you have two countries in you then there are times when it must be a factor in your performance when you're caught between the two."

A former editor of Wisden dismissed the article as rubbish and said it should not be published in a reputable cricketing magazine. "Jonah Lomu only went to New Zealand as a schoolboy and he obviously plays with great commitment," he said.