The ancestry of England’s line-up complicates the team’s relationship with the public, Simon Wilde told Cricket Writers on TV.
Sam Robson grabbed the headlines in Sunday's papers after scoring 127 in just his second Test match but the Sydney-born opener, who has an Australian father – and thick Aussie accent – is the latest England cricketer to have strong ties with another nation.
In fact, when he was batting with Gary Ballance there was not an English-born player on the field at Headingley – No.3 Ballance was born in Zimbabwe.
It is something English cricket fans have had to get used to over recent years, with the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Matthew Prior and Andrew Strauss, among others, opting to play for England rather than other nations.
However, Wilde of the Sunday Times is concerned the trend is continuing and wants to see a line drawn.
“I think it does matter,” he said. “When [head coach] Peter Moores was unveiled at Lord’s a couple of months ago and [ECB managing director] Paul Downton was with him, Downton made a point about Englishness, he felt it was quite important.
“He also asked the team to re-connect with the public. I think it’s difficult for the team to re-connect with the public via Sydney and Harare. Most other international cricket teams don’t look like England.
“With England’s relationship with the rest of the world, there are a lot of cricketers, where you have one English parent and one South African or Australian parent. That’s the nature of society. It’s fine but there has to be a limit of some sort.”
Mark Baldwin of The Times was less concerned about the issue from England’s angle, arguing the occurrences are inevitable results owing to England’s colonial past.
However, he pointed out that the likes of Zimbabwe could do with the exciting talent of Ballance, while West Indies could utilise the fast bowling of Chris Jordan, another cricketer who opted to play for England rather than the country of his birth.
“I see nothing wrong with England being a cosmopolitan team reflecting a cosmopolitan society,” he said.
“But the way I come at it is from the otherside, how do Barbados and West Indies feel about Jordan playing for England? How do Zimbabwe feel about Ballance playing for England? How do Australia feel about Robson playing for England?
“Robson has got a younger brother who plays for Leicestershire, Angus Robson, who is doing pretty well and is a couple of years younger. What if he opts for Australia?
“A lot of fuss was made about Pietersen, Trott, who I think was worse than Pietersen in the sense that he played representative cricket in South Africa, which Pietersen had not, Strauss who is South African, Matt Prior who has South African parents. We’ve had it for quite a while now where half the England team have been ‘foreign’ and this new team has a similar issue.
“But we should see it from the other side – West Indies cricket is struggling, Zimbabwe cricket is struggling and they will continue to struggle if their best players play for other nations.”
For Mike Walters of the Daily Mirror, though, it is not an issue. He insists that if a player has an English parent they are entitled to play for England and their decision should be respected.
“It’s easy to have a pop at England but, unlike other Test playing nations, England have a unique colonial history,” he said.
“My personal view on this is I’m not too interested if you’ve had grandparents or great-grandparents who once called in on England for a holiday, but if you’ve got an English parent you’re at least 50 per cent English and in which case you’re at worst duel nationality, and you are qualified to play for England.”