Collis King, the West Indies 1979 World Cup winner and hero of the final against England with a memorable 86, has seemingly fallen victim to England’s Windrush immigration policy.
King, who played nine Tests and 18 One-Day Internationals for the West Indies between 1976 and 1980, has been technically deported from England despite being married to a Briton. King has lived and played in England for decades and at the age of 67, still plays league cricket for Dunnington in Yorkshire.
Efforts by Barbados TODAY to locate King today were unsuccessful but reports carried in a number of British newspapers indicated that the problems for the star Barbadian all-rounder of the 1970s and early 1980s started last year in England when he applied for a spousal visa, giving him the right to remain in the country. It was rejected because he had applied while in the United Kingdom on a visitor’s visa. King was told that for a spousal visa he had to apply from Barbados and was given 14 days to leave the United Kingdom.
King had to return to Barbados to start the process again and, after three months of waiting, he still has no date for a hearing. The former YMPC and Empire club stalwart has been told it could take months. The worry for King is that fellow Barbadian, Hartley Alleyne, who played county cricket in the 1980s, spent three years waiting for his case to be resolved and some of the Windrush generation cases have been going on for years.
And to add insult to injury, King’s Barbadian passport was confiscated by staff at Heathrow before he boarded his flight back to the Caribbean because officials there deemed him to be at risk of absconding. His passport was only returned to him after he came back home.
Speaking on the matter to the Daily Telegraph, King stated: “I have been playing cricket in the UK for many years but I have always come back when my visa stated. I have never stayed longer than I was due to stay. If I had six months to play in the leagues, I would always come back on time. Never once in 44 years have I overstayed my time.
“I was not born a British citizen but I have been going to Britain long enough to feel part of the English set-up. You cannot come to a country for so many years without loving the place. I have been coming and going, loving the country and that is the sad thing, really. I have talked to [former West Indies team-mates] Desmond Haynes and Wes Hall about it and when I tell people what’s going on, they say: ‘That can’t be right.’ But it is right because here I am, stuck in Barbados not knowing when this will end.”
King, who played 125 first-class matches for Barbados, Glamorgan and Worcestershire in England, as well as Natal in South Africa, explained that it was only last year when he decided he wanted to spend more time in the United Kingdom with his wife that he decided to apply for a spousal visa. When that was turned down, his current nightmare began.
“It really hit me hard, that experience. But now it is all a waiting process. I am a fit person and play club cricket when I can. I love cricket and whether playing years professionally or as an amateur, I have always put something back. I coach voluntarily and it is saddening, really.
“They said the appeal could take four weeks, or it could take 15 weeks. Next month, it will be four months and, of course, there is no guarantee it will be approved. I don’t know how their system works. I can only guess, hope and speculate that things will go right,” he told the Telegraph, noting he was treated as though he was a criminal.
King expressed sympathy for the Windrush generation but said his case was different, even though he had fallen victim of the same crackdown on immigration numbers.
“The Windrush generation went to the UK and helped rebuild the country after the war. My situation is not quite the same. I sympathise with the people who have gone over there from all of the Caribbean states, done all that work and then after 50 years realise they have nothing. That is really hard. I hope the country sticks by those people, they deserve it. It is hard when you live over there for 50 years and then find out you have to go back.”
king has received the support of Colin Graves, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, describing him as a “colossus” of Yorkshire club cricket.
Graves has offered to act as a referee and write a letter of support for King who has been in Barbados for the past four months after having his application turned down.
“I have known him for 25 years and he has played in and around Yorkshire, and the amount of coaching he has done with kids and schools has been fabulous. He has really promoted kids’ cricket and developed and coached players. It is not like he has just turned up, played and left. He has been part of the community wherever he has been.
“I know Dunnington did not have a junior section before he went to play for them. He started it up and now they have 70-80 kids and he is still coaching now. That is where he has been a big asset. He has never been a drain on anybody. He has never drawn benefits and he is so fit and active I doubt he has ever used the NHS.
“I was staggered that his application was thrown out without any further investigation. Someone just looked at it and said, ‘On your bike’ and he was out. Nobody seemed to bother to look at it. It was cold and that is what upset me. They did not look at the individual, it was just another number on a file.
“From a cricket point of view in Yorkshire he has been a colossus. He is known around all the clubs and we will do everything we can from a cricket point of view because he is helping with what we are trying to achieve in the recreational game.
“If you look at his record in league cricket it is phenomenal. The good he has created over the years with people playing with and against him has lifted the whole league.
“He is not a taker. He is someone who wants to put things back in. He turns up, spends time at the clubhouse, socialising with people. He would play midweek matches and Sunday matches. He was totally committed to whatever he was doing.”
King has also received support from one of his former clubs in Wales, where he played in the 1970s and 1980s in between spells at Glamorgan and Worcestershire. Peter Kaufmann, president of Pontblyddyn Cricket Club in North Wales, has offered to start a petition to support King’s case.