There's a vast reservoir of talent out there

ONE of my great disappointments with Australian cricket is the lack of ethnic names in the nation's XI.

ONE of my great disappointments with Australian cricket is the lack of ethnic names in the nation's XI. Cricket at the highest level is still a very Anglo-Saxon game. While this may have been acceptable shortly after and prior to World War II, it is not now. During that period Australia had a population of about 7-million people mostly from England, Scotland and Ireland.

After World War II Australia went on a very major program to increase the population and while most encouragement was given to Great Britain stock, huge numbers of Europeans mostly from Italy, Greece, Holland, Germany and Yugoslavia also eagerly grabbed the opportunity to begin a new life in our young country.

Almost without exception they proved ideal migrants, working hard to improve their own lifestyle in their new country.

Now our population is nearing the 20-million mark with the ethnic migrants numbering about half of this figure.

While they have made their mark in most sports and in particular football, very few have made it to the top in cricket.

In recent times only Mike Veletta, Michael Di Venuto, Joe Angel and Michael Kasprowicz have worn the Australian cap.

Len Pascoe also did, but he unfortunately changed his name from Durtanovich to Pascoe before he wore the green baggy.

A great pity this, for I am sure if Lenny had not changed his name the ethnic population would have provided more players of international standard.

It is not as if the sons of our ethnic population are not interested in the game. Almost every time I use a taxi I am immediately recognised by the ethnic or Asian driver who dominates this profession in Australia. They are up to date with what is going on and inevitably have a son who plays cricket.

Yet, few are coming through to Test standards, even though they are commonplace in other sports and particularly all football. It is understandable that they have done well in soccer, for their fathers inevitably have a background in that sport. But, they also have played a dominant role in Rugby league, rugby and Australian football. But, for my liking, not enough in cricket.

Australia has an excellent program in the development of cricket and coaching. In recent times they have spent a great deal of money and effort with our indigenous population on the Australian mainland and islands. It is a great and successful program and Australian cricket is to be congratulated on it.

Now I would like to see them turn their attention to the void, which is ethnic cricket. This will be a huge job, but well worth the effort.

There is a huge population out there with sporting skills as their success in other games illustrates.

What excites me is that we would be tapping a new field, with different skills, personalities, background and temperament.

How wonderful it would be to see more of these personalities on the cricket field representing Australia.

Going to another topic, Dennis Lillee's criticism of the admittance of Bangladesh to Test cricket raises two questions.

Dennis' main criticism is that because the team is so weak it reduces the overall standard of Test cricket and inflates the record of countries and personal performances.

He is certainly right on personal performances, but it is just not Bangladesh who are aiding this, for I feel that the standard of Test cricket is the lowest I have known in the 50 years I have been involved with it.

In fact, I have argued that records should be divided into pre-1990 and afterwards.

To compare players' records from now to pre-1990 is not fair with new countries being admitted to Test cricket, probably before they were ready.

On the other hand, I applaud the ICC for wanting to increase the number of Test playing nations.

Quite frankly, the senior Test nations have very little to be proud of as far as their record is concerned in promoting cricket on a worldwide basis.

For almost 100 years international cricket was run almost as a private club with invitations being extended to fellow club members to play against each other.

There was no concerted effort to promote the game worldwide or help improve the standard of the countries who were playing the game but were not in the clique.

The ICC have changed this and it is a good thing.

So far the performance of Bangladesh has been poor. However, while they are not a rich country, they do have a big population and have a tradition of first class cricket. Test cricket was played in their country when they were part of Pakistan.

The most interesting aspect of their tour for me is that it will be played in our winter and in the tropical north of Australia where no Test cricket has been played.

I have long promoted the thought that Test cricket should and can be played in winter months in various parts of several countries.

If this was done it would alleviate the crowded summer cricket programs seen in most countries and allow new centres in Test cricket to be accommodated and encouraged.

The two Australian Test venues — Darwin and Cairns — will provide excellent facilities. A great deal of money has been spent and they are well up to Test standard.