Proponents of a Stronger European Union should Explore an EU National Cricket Team!

The European Union (EU) is a confederation of independent sovereign states that for a long time has been edging ever closer to a federation like the United States of America. This is especially true post 2009 Lisbon Treaty!

Flag of the European Union
Map of the European Union by S. Solberg J.

While EU Federalism is not something I personally am necessarily for, it is something that many of the main leaders of the EU are for. And, many of the main leaders who are not for an EU Federal State are still for greater EU unification or a “stronger Europe”, such that there is more EU security forces, like a larger, more united military apparatus, and a potential EU Army. In fact, this is what the EU Commission President exactly wants!

Now, what does any of this have to do with cricket?

Well, cricket is a sport that is very unique. See, in most sports, national teams are reserved for sovereign states like the USA, India, and Australia, dependencies like Puerto Rico, Anguilla, and Bermuda, and other administrative integral divisions of states, like Hong Kong and Scotland. The British Isles are usually the one exception to the rule, as often times, Ireland competes as a combined national team, as both the Republic of Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s representative. Once in while, you may see a representative of two split nations compete like a unified Korea team, in addition to the Irish phenomenon. But, outside of the confusing national teams of the British Isles and the once in a while, unified team of a South and North Korea, or of a place like East and West Germany back in the day, the convention generally follows above, except in cricket!

In international cricket, one of the best and most historical national teams does not fall into any of these categories! This national team is the West Indies, often referred to as a multination national team, became one national team in the 1880s, and then would become part of the ICC in 1926. While the West Indies did not exist as an actual entity yet, the name became synonymous with the British dependencies in the Americas with exception to Canada, who were all located in or on the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico, besides Bermuda. But, eventually, it did become an actual entity as The West Indies Federation from 1958-1962. The West Indies Federation was a British Dependency that united all the British West Indian/Caribbean/American (besides Canada) dependencies into a federated dependency, however The Bahamas, Bermuda, Belize, Guyana, and the British Virgin Islands did not join for various political reasons. The UK created it so that this federation could become an independent sovereign state, but this federation would crumble within 4 years. After this, many of these previously separate colonies would become separate again under the UK, until they either gained their independence, or stayed dependencies. Some dependencies actual split from the colony they were a part of to stay a UK dependency instead of becoming independent like the other part of their colony.

But, with this division, the West Indies National Cricket Team continued to play, and other efforts to make the West Indies united pursued. Currently, the successor to this united West Indies entity would be the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), a confederation or political union of many independent sovereign states and dependencies in the Caribbean, not just unique to the former and current British dependencies either. However, this West Indies National Cricket Team does not represent CARICOM, but is considered an institution of CARICOM. And, part of the reason this is, is not only does the national team not share the same name as the political union, but it also does not include all its members like The Bahamas, and includes some that are not members like the US Virgin Islands.

CARICOM Flag; Based on image at
CARICOM Map: Carport – File:BlankMap-World-Microstates.svg data from en:Caribbean Community (Dark Green = Full Members, Kelly Green = Associate Member, and Army Green = Observers)

The West Indies National Cricket Team represents Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten , St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the US Virgin Islands.

Map of Member Nations of the West Indies National Cricket Team (credit: Mapeh – Own work. Based on: The English Wikipedia’s “West Indies cricket team” article (revision 1000955049). Mapa del Caribe (límites marinos).svg by Milenioscuro (CC-BY-SA-3.0).)

Usually, these nations all have their own separate national teams, but not in cricket. However, to their credit, they do sometimes compete independently in cricket competitions, such as the Commonwealth Games, and lower levels of the sport like Twenty20 matches. Nonetheless, in the major competitions, you will see the West Indies playing under a special flag for the West Indies:

Flag of Cricket West Indies (credit: Cricket West Indies)

And, the West Indies used to not be alone either! There used to be an East Africa National Cricket Team from 1966-1989 representing Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia, which was replaced by the East and Central Africa National Cricket Team until 2003. This latter multinational national team included Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The West Africa National Cricket Team also existed from 1976-2003 representing Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, and Sierra Leone.

So, it appears that Cricket has formalized the idea of a regional multinational national team!

And henceforth, this brings about an interesting idea for the European Union to support, and for the International Cricket Council to approve, which is an EU National Cricket Team.

The European Union consists of 27 members states, 2 of which are very high level cricket playing nations, The Netherlands and Ireland (via the Irish combined team). There are other good nations in the membership as well, such as Germany and Italy, but these nations and especially the others do not really have that good of a shot to compete at the highest levels.

Here are the rankings for context: and

Thus, from a competition perspective, it would be a really good idea for the European Union to compete under one national team so the member states could experience more victories in cricket.

And, when we look at the benefits for strengthening the European Union, and uniting it more into a more federal-like state, having a united national team in a sport would do wonders to gain popular support, especially in cricket, as cricket is one of the world’s most popular and richest sports, meaning that winning in cricket would be considered a major success across the world and in the EU!

A quick look at South Africa would suffice to show how national teams can bring about unity. At the end of apartheid, whether recognized or not, there existed in effect, 8 different entities: South Africa for White South Africans, Transkei for Black Xhosa South Africans, Ciskei also for Black Xhosa South Africans, Bophuthatswana for Black Tswana South Africans, and Venda for Black Venda South Africans were all considered separate independent sovereign states by South Africa, while KwaZulu for Black Zulu South Africans, Lebowa for Northern Sotho speaking Black South Africans, and QwaQwa for Black Sesotho South Africans were considered autonomous areas under South Africa. Whether recognized or not, these entities effectively were a division of South Africa until 1994. While these can in no way act as a comparison to the European Union in terms of the heavy amount of human rights violations committed during Apartheid South Africa, nonetheless, it does compare to the extent that like the EU, South Africa had been divided between many ethnic groups. Yet, in order to bring the country together, once all these separate divisions seized to exist after 1994, the newly elected President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, decided to embrace sport for uniting South Africa together. In fact, it was the prospects of having a South Africa at the World Cup in Rugby Union that brought many White South Africans who were pro-Apartheid to embrace this new era. And thus, President Nelson Mandela would support the Springboks, South Africa’s Rugby Union Football National Team which brought all the Black and White South Africans together to root for a common team. This feeling of togetherness has come about a lot in South Africa via sports, especially when the country does well in a sport or hosts a major tournament like the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Yet, this story of uniting a nation through national teams is not unique to South Africa by any means! In fact, you can find many more stories here:

And, they have even done studies on this from Sub-Saharan African association football national teams at the African Cup of Nations and how it has the ability to reduce ethnic tensions and separate identity identification, to many others including the Caribbean itself. In fact, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has noticed that not only does the West Indies National Cricket Team bring about more unity among the community, and thus greater integration, but it also helps with the psyche of what it means to be a West Indian. For the Caribbean population, the game of cricket and the West Indies’ success has made all ethnic groups closer as they see that together, they can have pride from their successes that other nations often cannot match.

While this latter point may not make too much of a difference to the European Union members, because their individual national teams in other sports are already winning World Championships and Olympic Gold Medals across many sports, and their member nations are often among the richest, most successful, and historically great countries of all-time, thus rendering greater European morale something trivial, the former point is very important, which is that for CARICOM, the West Indies National Cricket Team has encouraged integration.

The European Union has divisions among the East and the West of the union, among the people pushing for less centralization and more centralization, among those who want it to be a federation and those who want it to not exist any more, among those who want to increase Christian religiosity and those who seek a very secular union, and many more divisions such as the divisions within each member state like the French and Flemish communities in Belgium and Catalonia in Spain.

But, if the leaders of the EU want to push for a more centralized EU state and/or a more federalized EU state, then these leaders should really embrace something that can unite the union, and that might just be to have a unified national cricket team.

It is true, that most likely, in other sporting federations like FIFA, FIBA, or even in the Olympics, the thought of a combined EU National Team would be met with much uproar and would almost certainly not be approved, unless the EU itself would become a federation first. And, furthermore, in sports like association football and basketball, or most others like team handball, ice hockey, volleyball, etcetera, these national teams carry such history and so much pride of their nations that the thought of these nations losing their treasured basketball or football national teams to an EU National Team that included their fierce rivals would undoubtedly be met with swift opposition and disapproval, and their leaders would most likely stop this from happening.

But, in cricket, outside of Ireland and The Netherlands, would really any other nations be that upset to unite into an EU super team? I highly doubt it! And would the ICC allow it? Well the truth is, we do not know, but the fact is that the ICC would be the sporting federation most likely to allow this, and if precedent means anything, the ICC would most likely allow this.

And this is what I would suggest for this to happen.

First, the European Union should have a combined professional league, in which each member nation can have a team within the league system, like County Cricket in England and Wales, or like how each cricket board in the Caribbean is represented in the Caribbean Premier League and other West Indian competitions. Yes, there will most likely have to be promotion and relegation between a two or three tiered league system, but this could work. What is great about this too, is that it will show how uniting leagues could create a super cricket league in Europe, something as individual nations, no members could do, not even mighty Ireland and The Netherlands. The good news for this, is that it has already been created, in a different way! The European Cricket League exists since 2019 as a UEFA Champions League or Euroleague like tournament for European club cricket teams. Now, to be clear, this European league represents the continent and not the union and also is not in the format I would suggest. Instead, I would create an additional league for European Union members, in which each member nation can combine resources to create a domestic league with tiers. There can be qualification into this league like in many of the regional basketball leagues in Europe like the Adriatic Basketball Association, thus ensuring existing clubs can compete in this. Or it could be all new teams in a franchise system like the Indian Premier League. I think this latter one makes more sense, and it can be in Twenty20 format. The traditional clubs would continue to play in their other competitions.

Then, I would keep the separate member nations competing as separate national teams in the European Cricket Championships, which would allow more competitions and would allow each nation to continue to compete on their own in at least one competition. The EU National Cricket Team would then compete outside of this in Worldwide competitions and Qualifiers.

Just like with the West Indies National Cricket Team, nations should be able to opt out of the EU national team. We have seen this with the Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands, as well as the fact that The Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, and others do not compete under the West Indies. This setup would be similar to many of the groups EU members can choose or choose not to be a part of (at least temporarily) from the Schengen Area to the Eurozone to name two. This will ensure that nations that wish to play as their own national cricket teams will be able to, thus fighting the prospects that some nations could be so against this idea that their Eurosceptic politicians could use this as a fear tactic to basically say, “they want to erase your national sovereignty starting with sports”. This means really good nations like Ireland and The Netherlands can keep their team, as surely they will want to. All the EU National Cricket Team will be is an opportunity for EU member nations to join and compete together if they want to.

And, maybe, what could be done is that different levels of the sport the EU could compete together and separately. Like, maybe, the EU competes in ODI, but not in Twenty20 Internationals for example.

The opportunities are endless for European Union Integrationists to use cricket to their advantage and increase EU integration by developing their own national team.

And, if the EU becomes really good, this would increase not only the popularity of cricket, but also the money in cricket. With the USA becoming better in cricket and bigger in cricket, this means that the EU becoming better and bigger in cricket too would mean that the world’s two largest economies would be big cricket nations (or multinations for the EU), something that has not happened for a long time, if ever. Given that cricket is in a unique spot that could actually embrace an EU National Team, this would be a highly successful venture for cricket. The EU on average is rich too, which means that the more individuals that are drawn to cricket, on a median basis, would actually equal lots of money into cricket. Imagine if 447 million people that are very wealthy tune into and buy merchandise for the Cricket World Cup! That is good for ICC overall. In fact, the European Union could host a cricket world cup sometime, which would do wonders for the sport.

Thus, as you can see, there is a huge advantage for cricket if they can bring in the European Union, and the best way to do that might be to make the European Union into a national cricket team, thus able to compete with full members better so that they can draw in more EU viewership into tournaments due to their participation in various events. And, for the European Union Integrationists who wish to see a closer and more united EU, and possibly even a federated EU, having a cricket national team will bring all member nations closer and help create EU solidarity and an EU identity. If the EU does well, it can help solidify the idea that the EU is stronger together.

Whether this happens or not will not bring about a demise of the EU Integrationists’ hopes, or the ICC, or cricket in Europe, but bringing about an EU National Cricket Team might make the EU Integrationists’ dreams come true, bring about a lot more revenue and popularity for the ICC, and could spur significant growth into cricket across Europe! Therefore, people that strive for more EU integration should explore these possibilities and try to establish an EU National Cricket Team!

*** This article is not advocating for the EU to be a federation or one national cricket team, rather it is only stating that for people who seek a more united, centralized, stronger, and potentially federalized EU, that they should support the creation of an EU National Cricket Team. Furthermore, it is also stating that an EU National Cricket Team would most likely bring in more money and more popularity into cricket, hence why the ICC would be smart to approve for monetary and popularity reasons. But, it must be stated this could be a can of worms, and in fact, I believe that super regional and confederation national teams can be an abuse on the system, as a national team should have to represent a sovereign state, dependency, or administrative division of a sovereign state or dependency, and maybe, a region within a country, if not done for pure competitive gain. A national team should represent something that exists without the national team competing. Nonetheless, given that the ICC already opened these can of worms with the West Indies being a member, the European Union would actually be much less of a can of worms and thus would not change the status quo much and open another can of worms.


Published by CK 22

I like history, politics, foreign diplomacy, sports, and more. Basically, the most popular things, plus also geography.

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