With a big summer of cricket in the pipeline this year, with the World Cup and another Ashes series against the old enemy, Australia whetting the appetites of English cricket fans everywhere. So unlike our gallant but ultimately unsuccessful footballers, cricket may be coming home this summer. (disclaimer: we'll probably mess it up somehow like the footballers usually do)
In the build-up to the World Cup later in the summer, much of the focus from an England perspective has been on the dilemma facing the England selectors as to whether to select 24-year-old Barbados-born all-rounder Jofra Archer. Archer has played for Sussex since 2016 (having arrived in the UK in March 2015). Archer declared his intentions to switch his international cricketing allegiances from his birth nationality, the West Indies (whom he has represented at International U19 level), to England. So what are the ICC and ECB eligibility rules to play international cricket?
The ICC Player Eligibility Regulations set out what is required for a player to be able to represent their country in an international match or ICC event. Article 2.1 sets out the three ways a player will be eligible:
being born in the country
is a passport holder in that country
is 'resident' in that country for three years or more.
Article 2.2 also stipulates that they can't have played for another full member country (e.g. a country that plays test match cricket) for the preceding 3 years. Conversely, if a player seeks to switch from an ICC 'associate' member to a full member, then they can do so immediately.
In determining whether someone is a 'resident', a player needs to show that he/she has a close, credible link with that country. This will include a number of factors such as:
time spent in the country (at least 10 months per year)
they rent or own property in that country that they live in full-time
This must be evidenced by documents such as employment contracts, utility bills, tax returns, pay slips, bank statements, mortgage agreements, amongst others. The player will need to provide any three of these to prove residency.
Previously, the ECB eligibility criteria for male players was that they must be a British citizen, and born in England or Wales. If not born in England or Wales, then:
7-year residence if moving from a Full Member country and if older than 18 when they arrive, or
4 years if moving from an Associate Member County if younger than 18 when they arrive (residence=210 day/year April-March); and
Not professional international or domestic cricket in another full member country within 4/7 years.
These rules were introduced to develop more significant numbers of English born players in English first-class cricket, as historically the England team has relied heavily on players who were not English or Welsh born. In fact,106 of the 735 players to have represented England in all formats who born outside the UK, including players such as Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen (both South Africa), and Ben Stokes (New Zealand), even coming from as far afield as Papua New Guinea (Geraint Jones)!
These rules were amended in January 2019 to bring them back into line with the ICC rules, so a prospective player would only need 3 years residence (210 days per year between April to March), and to have not played international cricket for another full member country for three years or more.
Before the change, Archer would have needed to have waited until 2022 to become eligible for England, but the move has now meant that he has come into contention for England selection since March 2019. This creates an interesting dilemma for the England selectors, who will have noted Archer's fast bowling and big hitting displays in the IPL, Big Bash and County Cricket.