Great Britain set for World Baseball Classic – with only two British players

Great Britain have named their 30-man roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, with only two players coming from the isles.

The news was followed by an announcement that the senior team, along with women’s softball, is to receive increased funding from UK Sport.

In preparation for the Paris Olympics in 2024, the national baseball organisation is set to be awarded a further £90,000.

In a social media statement, the organisation said: “We are so incredibly grateful to UK Sport for this support, and the vote of confidence it represents.

“Big shout to the players on the field and the coaching staff whose performance is what makes this possible.”

But, with the highly international roster released, the danger is that the apparent growth of the sport across Britain isn’t being showcased on the largest of stages.

Only pitcher Michael Petersen and outfielder Matt Koperniak were born in England, with the rest of the line-up coming from the United States and former British colonies.

Star player Harry Ford, the top prospect at the Seattle Mariners, was an influential figure in Britain’s success in qualifying for their first appearance in the Classic.

But he was only eligible to play because both his parents are of British origin, whilst he was born in Atlanta, Georgia.

A heavy contingent of the team come from places like the Bahamas and, since the region was a British colony until 1973, they also qualify through their parents.

Great Britain will play their group matches in Arizona in March, placed in Group C against the USA, Mexico, Canada and Colombia.

It will be the first World Baseball Classic since 2017, following its postponement in 2021.

The hope will be that, for future campaigns, a larger portion of the team will be British-born, helped by the increased funding the sport is set to profit from.

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