REGIONAL NEWS: Yorkshire organisation set to document and celebrate history of Asians in cricket

    England cricketers Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid owe part of their success to early Asian migrants who played in local parks and set up teams and leagues over four decades ago. Now, a new project, ‘From Parks to Pavilions’ has been awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to document the history of Asian cricket in Yorkshire.

    The AYA Foundation, a community organisation specialising in promoting minority heritage, arts and culture, has been awarded a grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to work with young people from across West Yorkshire to record interviews and collect memorabilia from the founders of one of the oldest Asian led cricket leagues in Britain, the Bradford based Quaid-e Azam Sunday Cricket League.

    Mobeen Butt, Projects Director at the AYA Foundation said: “The Quaid-e Azam League has been running for nearly four decades. Players from these Asian cricket leagues are now being scouted by county cricket clubs and have even gone on to play for England. I believe the way Black and mixed-race players and audiences have changed the face of football, Asian players and supporters could go on to change the face of cricket – and when this happens the material that a project like this collects will be vital to help tell a wider story of cricket in Britain.”

    L-R: Nasser Hanif (Project Manager -FP2P), Taj Butt (Development Officer for Yorkshire Cricket Foundation), Mobeen Butt (Project Lead - FP2P) at Park Avenue Cricket Ground in Bradford.  [Image credit: AYA Foundation / Mobeen Butt]
    L-R: Nasser Hanif, Taj Butt, Mobeen Butt, at Park Avenue Cricket Ground in Bradford.
    [Image credit: AYA Foundation / Mobeen Butt]

    Thanks to National Lottery, players the project will work with over twenty young people and include trips to museums and archives, as well as, visits to Headingley and Lords. The project will produce a documentary and exhibit at this summer’s England versus Pakistan one day international at Headingley.

    Mr Butt added: “It’s very important that minority ethnic communities start writing their own history. Recording first-hand the voices of the pioneers and collecting primary source material is invaluable. We have already started losing some of our ‘founding-fathers’, those that arrived in the 1960s and 1970s. It is imperative that we empower the second, third and now fourth generations by giving them the resources and skills necessary to capture their own histories; before they are lost forever.

    He went on the say: “This project is important on so many levels and without the financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund a project like this wouldn’t be possible. Young people will be taught how to conduct oral history interviews; how archives and museums work; how to produce documentaries;  how to develop exhibitions; how to conserve fragile objects; and hopefully one day in the not too distance future they will start to develop their own heritage projects.”

    Nasser Hanif, a BBC Radio journalist and Project Manager of the From Parks to Pavilions project, commented: “This project has been developed to coincide with this summer’s Pakistan tour of England. Older members of the Quaid-e Azam League say that it was when Pakistan toured England in the 70s that their passion for cricket was ignited and they would grab a bat and ball and start playing in the streets, alley ways and parks.

    “Asian men came to England to work in the 60s and 70s. They worked unsociable hours, did the night shifts and many worked six days a week. The only day they had off was Sundays, and as cricket was traditionally played during the week and Saturdays, the Asian cricketers didn’t get a chance to play with the established teams. Asian cricketers ended up playing in the streets, in car parks and play grounds. They started their own teams and competitions, and eventually their own Sunday leagues. The investment the Asian cricketing pioneers put in nearly four decades ago is now reaping rewards as theirs sons, nephews and grandchildren are now starting to break into the highest levels of English cricket.”

    Mark Arthur, Chief Executive of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, noted: “Yorkshire Cricket has a rich history and heritage and Asian cricket plays a major part in this. The Quaid-e Azam League is a very strong and well respected league, not just in Yorkshire, but nationally.  This project will be fantastic in documenting how the clubs and league have developed over the years as well as providing many people with fond memories.”

    Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Sport and Culture, said: “It’s important to record the rich history of our South Asian communities participating in one of our great national sports. Cricket is still close to the hearts of local people and is a significant factor in community cohesion. We’re pleased to see the Heritage Lottery Fund get behind this as we have an enormous passion for sport across the Yorkshire region and it is a great unifier.”

    Fiona Spiers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “South Asian communities have contributed to cricket across the UK for many years, and we are delighted to fund this fascinating project looking back at the grassroots origins of so many successful players. We are particularly pleased to see young people getting the opportunity to explore an area of their community’s heritage with particular relevance to them”.

    Mr Hanif adds: ‘We are looking for enthusiastic and energetic young people, 14 to 24 year olds, from across West Yorkshire to help with the project. So please do come forward if you are a young person or know a young person that would benefit from taking part.’

    Anyone interested in finding out more should email or phone 07764 335 879.

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    Saved By The Rain

    BY Ayyaz Malik

    England’s cricketers weren’t able to clinch a whitewash series win last week, as a mixture of bad weather and Sri Lanka holding firm helped the tourists claim an encouraging draw in the third and final test match between the two sides. In a series that has been largely one sided as England have dominated, this test match was a bit more evenly poised in some stages.

    In a match that was effectively a dead rubber, the home side won the toss and decided to bat first. Such a decision seemed like a bad choice for England as not for the first time in this series, the hosts lost several wickets before the score reached 100.

    Just like it has been in other innings, Jonny Bairstow and on this occasion captain Alistair Cook rescued England to a degree. The wicket-keeper and skipper combined to put on 80 for the fifth wicket, but they were not quite out of the woods just yet.

    When Cook was given out LBW off the bowling of Nuwan Pradeep for 85, England were still in trouble at 164-5. In came Moeen Ali – combined, Ali and Bairstow put on 63 for the sixth wicket.

    After the loss of Moeen Ali, England were looking in a slightly better position at 227-6, but still not great. It was left to a partnership between Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow, who put on 154 for the seventh wicket. Woakes during this partnership scored his maiden test fifty.

    After this partnership was broken the score read 371-7, which was a much better-looking scorecard considering this was seen as a batting pitch by home captain Alistair Cook. England would go on to finish their innings on 416 all out, which was a much better first innings lead to defend.

    All too often in this series, sadly Sri Lanka’s batsmen have lacked fight, but in the case of the opening partnership, this wasn’t the case. Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva impressively managed to put on 108 for the first wicket.

    When Karunaratne was dismissed off the bowling of Steven Finn, sadly as it has happened all too often this series another Sri Lankan batting collapse occurred. After being in a position of control after scoring 100 without the loss of any wickets, Sri Lanka collapsed miserably to 288 all out.

    Despite scores of 42 by Causal Perrera and 31 from Rangana Herath, it was the failings of the Sri Lankan middle order that cost them badly. The rain which had forced the players to come off on a couple of occasions during the match had an effect on the way the pitch was playing, but even still, such a collapse is disappointing.

    England against all odds had managed to regain control of this match and started their second innings in the ascendancy with a significant 128 run lead. Yet again though however, the hosts had a horrific start in their second innings.

    After a solid if not spectacular start, England lost three wickets close to each other and after being 44-0, they slipped up to 50-3. Yet again it looked like this was as mission left for wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow to tidy up.

    On several other occasions, Bairstow has managed to rescue England, however on this occasion he wasn’t entirely able to. England’s wicketkeeper was bowled and Steven Finn departed straight after, and what was keeping England from a complete meltdown was in fact opener Alex Hales. Hales was batting beautifully, and looked to be edging closer to that maiden hundred. He and his captain Cook put on 82 for the sixth wicket.

    Sadly for Alex Hales however, he would be next out, six short of what would have been a well-deserved hundred. At this stage though the home side managed to amass a 300 run lead.

    England set the tourists Sri Lanka a very daunting total of 352 to win, but considering that a significant amount of the match had been lost due to rain. Even the run chase itself was disrupted by rain.

    Sri Lanka managed to get to 45-1 before the captains shook hands on the draw. Next for these two are five one-day internationals. The tourists will be hoping for better look in that format.

    In one day internationals England are a different kettle of fish, they are of course under different leadership. Eoin Morgan takes the captaincy away from Alistair Cook, and Sri Lanka will have a different test to the one of the test series. Hopefully this will be a change of scenery for the Sri Lankans, and help them to be more competitive.

    The one-day series between the two sides will be held on 21st June, where the first game will be played at Trent Bridge.

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    Young Bowler Passes Away In Tragic Accident

    BY Ayyaz Malik

    The cricket community has been in mourning this week and last after the news that young fast bowler Hamza Ali passed away in a swimming accident. Ali’s club Hampshire and MCC confirmed the tragic news. 20-year old Ali played a first-class game for his County at the start of this season.

    Hamza since then went on to play several games for MCC Young Cricketers. The Bristol-born seamer also had a stint in Grade-A cricket with the Rawalpindi Rams in Pakistan.  The cricket world has been robbed of an innocent life due to a very unfortunate accident in the River Avon.

    Ali was airlifted from the popular swimming spot which has sadly become notorious; the River Avon was sadly the spot where teen Aaron Burgess also died in 2012. 20-year old Ali, just like Burgess, couldn’t be saved and passed away shortly afterwards.

    "We would like to extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to Hamza's family at this very sad time," MCC head coach Steve Kirby said of the tragic incident.

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    Hamilton storms ahead in Canadian Grand Prix triumph

    BY Ayyaz Malik


    Two-time world champion Lewis Hamilton revived his world title charge last week, with a thrilling win in the Canadian Grand Prix. The 31-year old Englishman, who has had a nightmare defence to his F1 campaign this term after suffering several engine failures, came out ahead in a thrilling battle with Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel.

    This win in Canada means that Hamilton has won two successive races, after initially not winning any.  It could have all been so different for the Mercedes driver, as it was in fact Ferrari driver Vettel who got out of the blocks quicker.

    The young German was initially third on the grid but managed to jump into the lead. Sadly for Sebastien Vettel tactics such as doing a two-stop strategy to Hamilton’s one cost him dearly, as well as pitting during a caution period which caused further delays.

    As much as those factors might have had an effect on the race, the sign of a true champion is to ensure you are professional enough to still get the desired result regardless of the circumstances - and Lewis Hamilton did just that. This win for Lewis has breathed some life into what was looking like a faltering title defence.

    The lead between Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton now stands at just nine points. With the next race to be held in Azerbaijan, there are still plenty of twists and turns to go in this year's Formula One World Championships. The sports desk at Asian Sunday will continue bring you all the high-speed action.

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    Can You Lend Andy A Hand Please, Ivan?

    BY Ayyaz Malik

    Former grand slam winner and tennis legend Ivan Lendl will be rejoining British tennis player Andy Murray’s coaching team. The Czech-born American coach in his first stint with the 29-year old Scot helped him win the US open, Wimbledon and famously Olympic gold in the London 2012 Olympics.

    After this successful period where Murray looked to have removed the ‘choker’ tag, shortly after in 2014 Ivan Lendl opted to split with Andy Murray. The reason at the time for the split was believed to be that the eight time grand slam winner wanted to go back on the pro tour as player.

    Reacting to the news that he will be working with Ivan Lendl again, Murray said of the coach: "Ivan is a leader [...] He's very, very experienced”.

    The Scot also mentioned that he was looking for Ivan to help him end his record of being beaten eight times in grand slam finals. The Czech-born coach lost 11 grand slam finals when he was a player, compared to his eight wins.
    One thing that is fair to say is that with Lendl by his side, Andy Murray was able to get through the mental block and win grand slam finals. Let’s hope that the Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray partnership can win Wimbledon again at the end of this month.

    With the news that old nemesis Rafael Nadal will be not playing in this year’s tournament, British fans are likely to be hoping that this will make the road to victory a little easier. One can’t, however, forget about Novak Djokovic, who is after all the defending champion.

    Roger Federer also deserves a mention, as a seven times champion of the tournament; although arguably the Swiss player is approaching the ‘twilight’ of his career, the 34-year old’s championship and winning pedigree can’t be underestimated.

    Other players such as Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga are dangerous due to the fact both can ‘go under the radar’. British fans will be hoping the news that Ivan Lendl has joined Andy Murray’s coaching team will give them the edge going into one of the biggest events on the tennis calendar.
    Wimbledon will begin on 27th June and conclude on 10th July.

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