Three desis played for England in the game against the Irish on Friday, all belonging to different religions (Bopara ? hindu; saj ? Muslim; monty ? surd) ? making England the joint most secular team of this particular world cup. Actually the title is shared by three or four teams ? England, Sri Lanka, Canada (assuming Kevin Talwinder Sandher is Surd) and maybe India (I?m not sure of Uthappa?s religion ? India is in the list if he is christian).
Leads me to think about how secular the sport has been. And thinking about it, cricket seems more secular than I initially thought! Australia is a notable exception ? as far as I can recall they have had an all-christian team, and South Africa were with them for a long time till that terrorist (damn political correctness; the wilderness on his face entitles him to be called that) Hashim Amla came along.
Then there are these teams which have mostly been single-religion but have had the odd ?minority? playing for them. Like New Zealand have had Dipak Patel and now Jeetan Patel; and Pakistan have had Anil Dalpat and Danish Kaneria and Yousuf Youhana (until he converted to islam in (my opinion) a desperate bid for captaincy).
The West Indies, due to the large Indian immigrant population in Guyana and Trinidad, have always had a few hindus playing for them (there are currently three of them), and the odd muslim also. England have always had players of subcontinental origins (going back to Ranji), though for a while in the 70s and 80s they were all Christian (Hussain and Ramprakash broke the trend).?
India and Sri Lanka, of course, are quite secular in this regard, and have always had mixed-religious teams. From the time I started watching cricket, Azhar was there, and by the time he left, Yuvraj was almost there. Similarly with the SriLankans who have always had Hindus and Christians playing for them (and even the odd muslim – Maharoof, etc).
The surprise package in this regard have been the ?minnows?. Of course there are a few single religion teams (Holland, Ireland, Scotland, Bangladesh (save Baisya), etc.) but teams like Kenya and Canada have a huge subcontinental expat population in their team, thus leading to better diversity ? and I?ve already mentioned that Canada is joint first in this world cup?s secularism ratings.?
So which team wins the prife for being the all-time most secular international cricket team? I think that should definitely go to UAE in the 1994 Australasia cup. Which other team would boast of such diversity as Poonawala, Mehra, Samarasekera, Zarawani in the same eleven?