A whole new ball game

aims to transform how south
Asians participate in cricket
COMMUNITY SPIRIT: The project aims to transform how south Asians participate in cricket

ECB’S ACTION PLAN ‘WILL CHANGE BRITAIN’S CRICKETING CULTURE’ by LORD KAMLESH PATEL IT WAS as a boy growing up in the Great Horton area of Bradford as a first-generation British Asian that I first fell in love with cricket. I remember playing with friends, family and neighbours in the streets around where I lived, but I never had the opportunity to experience the game live and we didn’t have a TV to watch cricket. So you can imagine, the best part of 50 years lat­er, how proud I am to be involved in the launch of the ECB’s South Asian Action Plan – a scheme that will cover so many areas of the game. We can all look back on our lives and identify turning points. For me, it was being appointed as captain of the cricket team at Belle Vue Boys Gram­mar School. Life wasn’t easy as a young south Asian in the 1970s, but cricket gave me confidence, lots of enjoyment and kept me healthy and fit. It helped me build friendships and eventually led to me being invited to play for the Manningham Mills Cricket Club by my PE teacher, Richard Noble, who remains a friend to this day. While I was made to feel welcome at my mostly white village club, I never did quite fit in. Decades later, I still see the same challenges for young play­ers – one in five south Asians still have trouble find­ing a place to play the game they love. But I hope that is about to change with the launch of the South Asian Action Plan, which aims to transform the way that south Asian communities play, support and get involved in cricket in England and Wales. It has been created following hundreds of conversations with parents, coaches, players…

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