Foreign legion stir national feelings at World Cup


Sydney: Ireland’s management expressed frustration on Friday at seeing Dublin-born Eoin Morgan installed as England captain for the World Cup, but their complaints are unlikely to generate widespread sympathy.

Chief selector and former Ireland captain Alan Lewis said it was “irritating” that 28-year-old Morgan, who originally made his ODI debut in Irish colours, will skipper England at the World Cup which starts on Saturday.

Lewis told the Slog Sweep podcast that Ireland would be in a much stronger position had Morgan and fellow defector Boyd Rankin not decamped to play for England.

“It is a wee bit irritating to think where we could be if Eoin and Boyd were available,” Lewis said.

Fast bowler Rankin’s defection backfired when he failed to make the England World Cup squad, but that did little to assuage Lewis’s frustrations.

“I look at the England set-up and over the last 10 years, three people from this little island where cricket is the fourth or fifth sport are playing for a country whose national sport is cricket,” he added.

“I wouldn’t want to deprive Eoin Morgan the opportunity with the ability he has, I’d want to play at the top level, and in honesty every Irish supporter would wish him well, it’s a great story, but it’s a great frustration. To get our players back, that’s part of the next step.”

But Ireland find themselves in a tricky position when it comes to the use of foreign talent, and Lewis’s comments drew criticism from fans.

“Sorry, Ireland, but a country which has consistently imported players from around the world has no room to be critical when its better players want to play at the top level,” one fan wrote on the CricInfo website.

Ireland were captained by Australian-born Trent Johnston at the 2007 World Cup while their 2015 squad boasts Brisbane-born Alex Cusack.

Dubliner Ed Joyce played for England at the 2007 tournament in the Caribbean but he switched back to Ireland for the 2011 edition and will be key for them in Australia and New Zealand.

Ireland and England are not the only nations who have foreign talent on their radar.

Scotland’s 15-man squad features seven non-Scots, including two key South Africans.

Durban-born Preston Mommsen is captain while Richie Berrington, who hails from Pretoria, hit 66 in the team’s three-run loss to West Indies in a warm-up game in Sydney on Thursday.

The United Arab Emirates, playing in the World Cup for the first time since 1996, have just three Emirati-born men in their squad with the bulk of their talent drawn from Pakistan and India.

Local player Mohammed Tauqir was installed as captain to replace fellow 43-year-old Khurram Khan from Pakistan. AFP