Dear Mr Henderson
A black sports writer condemns Wisden Cricket Monthly's suggestion that non-white cricketers don't give their all for England
Monday 03 July 1995
The idea that black people or those of Asian ancestry raised in England cannot experience "the same pride and identification ... as a white man" defies belief and belittles the vast sporting achievements of many so- called foreigners. You even state that "it is even possible that part of a coloured England-qualified player feels satisfaction (perhaps subconsciously) at seeing England humiliated, because of post-imperial myths of oppression and exploitation." My, aren't explanations for the failures of English cricket becoming elaborate?
I understand that your editor, David Frith, has been inundated with callers branding you a racist. Maybe you're not. Perhaps you are simply very, very stupid, though not as stupid as the "foreign" cricketers you vilify, those who spend their careers attempting to earn a place in the national squad so they can scupper the English cricket team.
Why have you singled out cricket? Perhaps because in many ways cricket is the most English of games, or perhaps you are an aspiring politician hoping to endear yourself with
right-wing, tub-thumping rhetoric.
You have attempted to disguise a hackneyed racial theory by presenting your views in a sociological manner. I am not fooled. If, as you claim, a serious point is being presented, then the hypothesis in question should be applicable to all British sports. Instead, ground-breaking achievements of other sporting blacks have been ignored - no mention of football (Paul Ince has captained his country), athletics (Linford Christie, Colin Jackson) or rugby (Steve Ojomoh and Victor Ubogu).
On my first trip to Lord's some years ago, I encountered spectators who seemed to share your views. Fuelled by Pimm's, their kindest suggestion for black members of the England team was that they would be better suited to picking cotton and had no right to wear the lion on their jerseys. Curiously enough, they were the first to applaud when Devon Malcolm took five wickets.
Your singling out of Asian and black players exposes your bias, or perhaps you deliberately decided to ignore the Caucasian "foreigners" who represent England in cricket. Does Graeme Hick exhibit more patriotism and pride (whatever these terms mean) when facing the West Indies than Philip DeFreitas? Graham Gooch, one of the most stereotypically patriotic English captains ever, seemed to place other considerations higher when touring South Africa, resulting in suspension of his international career.
Does anyone apart from you believe that a sportsman, black or white, can gear a life towards representing their country while holding that country in contempt? Do you remember Daley Thompson and Linford Christie winning Olympic gold and clothing themselves in the Union Jack?
Must I point out that last year, six black players were in the starting line-up for England's football team? This country's three most expensive footballers - Collymore, Ince and Cole - are black.
I suggest the editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly adds coherence to his criteria for accepting articles, while you, Mr Henderson, stick to writing Norman Tebbit's speeches.
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