This is a copy of a letter I have sent to the Observer in response to an article that appeared on page 32 of Sunday's paper. The original article can be read here.
I took exception to the short article on the Lord’s Test between Australia and Pakistan in last Sunday’s Seven Days section (Bad light and £4 beer? Yes, the spirit of English cricket lives on). To compare the lack of Englishmen on the pitch during the game, with the lack of English-born players in the current England side seemed a startlingly lazy way of finding a hook to the story.
The author casually suggests that your place of birth defines your nationality. This is, of course, absurd. Would anyone seriously suggest that Andrew Strauss (or Nasser Hussain before him) is really less English than Birmingham-born Andrew Symonds? Looking back, what about Ted Dexter (born in Milan) or Colin Cowdrey (born in Bangalore)?
I do not doubt there are problems with the current system, which allows cricketers of many nationalities, including South Africans, to play for England after a short qualification period. But that is a different question. Place of birth has little to do with nationality, and it is dangerous to suggest otherwise.