Cricket test

Cricket test

The cricket test was a phrase coined by Norman Tebbit in referring to supposedly questionable loyalties of immigrants to the United Kingdom in 1990. It is also known as the Tebbit test.

During the 1980s and 1990s there was a perception in parts of the UK that some immigrants to the UK did not have a primary loyalty to the UK, but continued to identify with their countries of origin. The most famous expression of this was made by Conservative politician Norman Tebbit in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. He said: "A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?


The comments attracted widespread criticism for Tebbit, including allegations of racism, although they also struck a chord with some. A cartoon showed a Scotsman, in full kilted regalia, in jail bemoaning "I failed the Tebbit cricket test!".

Other commentators ironically noted that comedy character Alf Garnett had expressed very similar sentiments to those of the cricket test in an episode of the 1960s-1970s sitcom Til Death Us Do Part.

Another criticism is that Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own national sports teams for most events, therefore the Scots, Welsh and those from Northern Ireland would not be expected to cheer for England. In fact, most major sports play at the constituent levels, not "Britain" (though Wales is represented by England at cricket, and Scottish players were eligible for England at the time of Tebbit's comment). The SRSM and other nationalist organisations have had T-shirts printed up with the slogan "I failed the English cricket test". However, Tebbit's argument is essentially that an individual with a strong allegiance to a country outside the UK can never be truly integrated into the indigenous population. This could apply to immigrants and their descendants in any of the UK's constituent nations, yet it acknowledges that the country has always been unusually heterogeneous.

A further line of criticism focuses on whether Norman Tebbit is correct to question the loyalty of ethnic minorities (who do not support the English cricket team) to other, and arguably more important, English institutions such as Government. Such criticism has led to suggestions that a more accurate test would be an “army test”; which would question which side an immigrant would fight for in the instance of war breaking out between the country they have immigrated from and to.

In practice

Sajid Mahmood

British born (Bolton, Lancashire) bowler Sajid Mahmood was called "traitor" at a cricket match at Headingley on August 8, 2006 by British citizens of Pakistani descent in the crowd for playing for the England cricket team when they were playing against the Pakistani national team.

Sir Trevor McDonald

Sir Trevor McDonald, the popular Trinidad and Tobago born UK newscaster has admitted to supporting the Trinidad and West Indies cricket teams in late 2005, indicating that this particular idea of Englishness still has current meaning. As McDonald is an immigrant to the UK his support for the West Indies is perhaps more natural.


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