Thursday, 8 March 2007

Why aren't we at the party?

Erthygl o'r South Wales Evening Post - 08/03/07

Article from the South Wales Evening Post - 08/03/07

Someone asked a pertinent question the other day about kamikaze pilots - why did they wear helmets? And here's another puzzler that will perplex many people.The Cricket World Cup - why doesn't Wales have a side preparing to play in the Caribbean when the likes of Scotland, Ireland, Holland and Bermuda are involved?

We are told that Wales are part of the England set-up . . . big deal.

Even on the England and Wales Cricket Board's own website, the acronym ECB is used, with the 'W' airbrushed out.

The team that takes the field is known to all and sundry as England.

And if you want to buy headwear for the upcoming World Cup, the official on-line shop of the England and Wales Cricket Board is where such business is conducted, with their offer of an ''eye-catching hat'' with ''unique design elements''.

The site enthuses: ''The attractive two-tone finish of this navy and sky blue headgear is complemented by some superb raised embroidery.

''The word 'England' runs smartly across the peak . . . and the ECB three lions crest and official Cricket World Cup logo are sewn into the front.''

What about Wales? You may well ask.

While surfing the internet, I visited the Wikipedia site, where the following interpretation is put on the idea of a Wales cricket team.

''The Welsh cricket team has appeared on a number of occasions. Generally, however, Welsh players are represented in international play by England.''

You don't have to be a flag-waving, card-carrying nationalist to feel that isn't how it should be.

The sticking point for Wales entering a side in a World Cup, apparently, is that it wouldn't square with Glamorgan getting around £1.3 million a year from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

A declaration of independence at national level would supposedly cost the county their cash and deal a blow to the game in Wales.

It would be worth checking out if that is the case.

Yes, Glamorgan play in the county championship, but in recent years Scotland, who get a grant of £600,000 or so, have competed in two of the three main competitions in British cricket.

And, anyway, is an extra £700,000 or so adequate compensation for Wales not being able to feature in the World Cup?

As Robert Croft argued at the time of the last global cricket bash, ''I'm not saying we should get Test status, but that link (with England) should not be used to stop us competing in the one-day arena and in World Cups, especially if the tournament is expanded.''

But despite Wales having a shedload of key figures on the EWCB, nothing will happen.

It won't because people are prepared to accept the status quo, however unsatisfactory it may be.

It is like the Football Association of Wales presiding over a situation where the three strongest Welsh clubs, Cardiff City, Swansea City and Wrexham, are not allowed to enter European competition because they play in a foreign set-up.

No-one should be happy about that, either, yet no-one has the will, brains or vision to do anything about it.

A Wales cricket team at the World Cup might not rip up any trees, but it is unlikely that Scotland, Ireland and Holland have great expectations for the tournament that starts next week.

Not to put too fine a point on it, some of the sides who have taken part in previous World Cups have been rubbish. Canada, for instance, were skittled out for 35 by Sri Lanka in the 2003 event.

How bad is that? There are probably teams in division nine of the Pembroke Pensioners League who'd fancy their chances of knocking up 35.

A few years ago, a Wales XI were good enough to beat England in a one-day game; who is to say some way down the line that would not be repeated?

But you get the impression certain people are happy to take the annual handouts and just be grateful to be part of the English set-up. So what if the team is known as England? Doff the cap and say how wonderful it is to be on board.

There will be one Welshman at the World Cup, namely Glamorgan's David Hemp - featuring for Bermuda.

No doubt he will have a great time and good luck to him, but he should be playing for Wales.

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