GREG Chappell, who would not be a candidate for leading a chorus of Rule Britannia, commented recently that the only thing England had ever done for cricket was invent the game. Pommie-bashing is a sacred part of Australian culture and injects all sporting encounters between the two countries with the added spice that makes the ultimate result so vitally important. Allowing for Chappell's inbred antipathy to his Northern Hemisphere cricketing colleagues, his pithy comment was not, on this occasion, without foundation. His caustic remark was provoked by England's non-appearance at the Commonwealth Games cricket tournament, a most ill-advised decision by the country's cricketing authorities. There has been some biting comment already about the place that the Commonwealth Games now actually holds in the overall structure of world sport. The view seems to be that it is slipping down the scale although I would have to immediately say it has to be considerably higher than the Goodwill Games which seems to me to be just an excuse to put more sport on television - usually from an American venue. But if England cannot manage to send a cricket team to the Games, with that country - or the Queen - being head of the Commonwealth and having spread the cricketing gospel across three-quarters of the world, then there must be some cause for concern. Whatever benefits or otherwise the British Empire brought to large segments of the world, it did bring cricket. Britain's role as coloniser may be debated and its successes - Pax Britannica and the rule of law - disputed, but let there be no doubt that one real legacy, and likely to be an everlasting one, is cricket. India, the jewel in the Crown, is in love with the game and, not for the first time in sport, the former servants have proven to be more adept than the former master. In a historical aside, it may be interesting to note that football has never remotely achieved the same status in the Indian sub-continent because that sport was the province of the ill-regarded BORs (British Other Ranks) whose contacts with the local inhabitants and their own 'betters' were kept to a minimum. The MCC decision not to send a cricket team to the Commonwealth Games is deplorable and excuses centred round upcoming tours and Test matches are totally inadequate. Cricket is one common bond throughout the majority of the Commonwealth as it was in the days of Empire. It is unique in that most countries with little or no ties to Britain, past or present, do not seriously play the game - or are not among its achievers. Frankly, the decision is not only to be roundly condemned but it is also impossible to understand. It was not necessary to send a full-strength England Test team to Kuala Lumpur. But there are hundreds of players stretched across the county game in England and it required only 20 of them to be chosen. And this is not a three-month winter tour to India or Pakistan, just a couple of weeks in Malaysia. As solely an intermittent observer of local cricket, it has been interesting to read of the battles for the top positions in the Hong Kong Cricket Association. Cricket has always operated on the fringes of Hong Kong sport because it has not really been possible to woo the Chinese to the game. There are those of us not involved in the sport who do enjoy a leisurely day watching a game unfold and are able to understand how tantalisingly the odds on winning and losing can shift. But it is an acquired taste and not for those possessed of a short attention span. Hong Kong cricket, as I recall it anyway, has not often been involved in the intense battle for power that made its way on to the sports pages and reached a climax last week when Terry Smith retained the presidency by a nail-biting single vote. Now there is an investigation into why certain members of KCC did not have their proxy votes counted. Is there more than a whiff of controversy, or even skulduggery, in the air? Surely not, chaps. From a totally uncommitted viewpoint, the present and freshly elected incumbents to cricket's main positions have been given a most serious warning that a large number of their players/members are not satisfied with the course the sport is taking. As has been pointed out in the past, HKCA annual general meetings were rather cordial affairs where disputes - other than who buys the first round - were rare. That has clearly changed this year and Smith should pay due heed to the voices and the substantial body of opinion that so nearly unseated him.