Sat 14 December 2019

With MP Jacob Rees-Mogg pontificating that England’s cricket World Cup victory shows “we clearly don’t need Europe to win”, Faisal Khan argues that immigration was key to the team’s success.

On Sunday, in easily the most dramatic international cricket final ever and perhaps the most dramatic international cricket game ever, England won the One Day International (ODI) World Cup for the first time. It was the country’s first ODI final appearance since it lost to Imran Khan’s ‘tigers’ in 1992. 

Before the tournament began England were favourites and for good reason. After their humiliating exit at the last World Cup, the likes of Andrew Strauss and the captain Eion Morgan got together and decided the main issue was England’s approach to the one day game. 

As a consequence partially of the T20 format, the game had changed: it was faster, more dynamic, the fielding more athletic, and teams were no longer playing conservatively with the bat – especially during the middle overs.

We can use this historic win as an opportunity to celebrate the value of immigrants and immigration to this country.

Alas, almost overnight, England changed its approach to ODI cricket and swiftly became a renewed side. Now they were taking the game to the opposition, attacking with bat, with ball and in the field; they were playing some truly dynamic, fearless and consistent cricket. This approach, the quality of the players, their form, and home advantage rightly made them favourites to win the tournament. 

However, it is rare to go through a long sporting tournament and not have a hiccup or two. After starting brilliantly England lost unexpectedly to Sri Lanka and then Australia. It led to panic and nerves in the dressing room. They re-grouped, apparently with the help of a psychologist, and – with the return of Jason Roy – were back on track. In a near perfect semi-final, England decimated the historically invincible Australians (who have won the tournament five times), playing the very brand of cricket they had become known for, to draw New Zealand for the final. 

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The final will go down in history for its sheer drama and. Whilst New Zealand fought to the wire with a super over required to decide it and were very unlucky, few would begrudge England the victory.

But, would this all have been possible without immigration? In a word: no.

The man of match in the final, Ben Stokes, without whom England would have lost, was born in New Zealand, coming to England aged 12. His father was apparently supporting New Zealand. The team’s coach is Australian. ‘Captain fantastic’ Eion Morgan was born in Dublin and, in the early part of his career, played for Ireland – his Irish accent clearly discernible. The fastest bowler, Jofra Archer, was born in Barbados, and one of the best batsmen in the side, Jason Roy, was born in South Africa. The squad also includes two Muslims, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, both of whom are of immigrant heritage. In other words, almost a third of the England cricket team are either immigrants or of immigrant heritage.

Would this all have been possible without immigration? In a word: no.

Of course, cricket isn’t the only area in which immigrants or those of immigrant heritage add enormous value to British society, they have long contributed in every area of British society.

At a time when Brexit Britain is divided, when hate against immigrants and ‘foreigners’ is once again on the rise, when right-wing groups are thriving throughout Europe and the West, perhaps we can use yesterday’s historic win as an opportunity to, not only celebrate the England Cricket team’s deserved success, but to celebrate the value of immigrants and immigration to this country.

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