When cricket legends such as Don Bradman (Australia) and Richard Hadlee (New Zealand) can be conferred knighthood, why not honour other legends in the Commonwealth such as Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram?
The demand was made by Conservative MP Rehman Chishti on Monday in the House of Commons during a debate on Commonwealth Day. A Commonwealth Day service was also held in the Westminster Abbey attended by Queen Elizabeth and others.
Chishti, MP from Gillingham and Rainham in Kent, raised the issue when foreign office minister Harriett Baldwin mentioned cricket as one of the shared values across the Commonwealth. He called it an ‘anomaly’ that no Commonwealth cricketer has been so honoured.
He said: “She mentioned cricket—many things bring happiness to us in the Commonwealth, and one of them is cricket—and perhaps she can clarify an anomaly.”
“In Australia, Sir Don Bradman was knighted, and in New Zealand, Sir Richard Hadlee was knighted, but there has been no knighthood for cricketers from Pakistan, India, South Africa or Sri Lanka, which have produced some brilliant cricketers”.
“From Sri Lanka we had Muralitharan; from Pakistan we had Wasim Akram and Imran Khan; from South Africa we had Jacques Kallis; and from India we had Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev. This is the year when we host the cricket World Cup. Can the Minister ensure that we rectify that anomaly so that all our counterparts in the Commonwealth are treated fairly and equally?”
Chishti’s remarks evoked a positive response from Baldwin.
She said: “Madam Deputy Speaker, have you ever heard such a compelling application to Her Majesty to recognise more cricketers from around the Commonwealth? I am sure that it will have been heard by the relevant people”.
“My hon. Friend is right; I mentioned Bangladeshi women’s cricket. I am also thrilled that in Rwanda, which is one of the newer members of the Commonwealth, cricket is fast growing into a very popular, if not leading, national sport. He is right to make the link between the Commonwealth and cricket”, Baldwin added.
Besides cricketers from England, Australia and New Zealand, 11 West Indies cricketers have been knighted so far, including Viv Richards, Frank Worrell and Andy Roberts, but no cricketers from other countries figure in the list.