Asians make their mark
its true English cricket has finally started to tap into
one of its high potential cricket-mad minority communities.
you believe it ? There are now 30 British-born Asian players
in county cricket - and that too, a number of high-profile
role models on the scene expect that number to rise rapidly
in the next few years. For starters, there is England
captain, Nasser Hussain.
Add to that, overseas stars like Rahul Dravid, Saurav
Ganguly and Saqlain Mushtaq. More to the list are home
grown up-and-coming players like Worcestershire's Vikram
Solanki and Leicestershire's Aftab Habib. Half of the
Asian Brit pack hail from the West Midlands. Worcestershire
ofcourse boasts of the largest share. It sure is an appreciable
piece of statistics. Six of their 23 staff are of Asian
descent, including Solanki, and England Under-19 cousins,
Kabir and Kadeer Ali.
an attempt to defend, "We don't specifically look
for Asian players, we're just looking for good cricketers",
insists Worcestershire coach Damian D'Olivera.
that means we spot Asian guys, and they come through quicker,
so be it."
Worcestershire and neighbours Warwickshire have built
up links with the region's Asian community but the Bears
have the more extensive network.
fact is they only have three senior Asian players in their
current squad. But half of some of the county's youth
development sides are Asian.
cricket fever is hot. "These people are cricket mad",
says Warwickshire's director of coaching Richard Cox.
"It is not unusual to see Asian children in some
parts of this city playing cricket when there's snow on
the ground." That is something we Indians can well
opportunities look good for talented British-born Asian
cricketers in the West Midlands, elsewhere the picture
many counties, including Yorkshire, which has a number
of substantial Asian communities, do not have any Asian
players on their books.
in many urban areas there is a real problem with a lack
to solve the problem, the England and Wales Cricket Board
have launched four inner-city projects this summer - in
Newcastle, Bristol, Nottingham and Essex.
it isn't targeting ethnic communities directly this sort
of scheme must inevitably help," says ECB coach Terry
number of British Asians coming into the game has now
eclipsed the Afro-Caribbeans.
one would imagine, on the contrary, soccer is not likely
to be a distraction. Despite its often under estimated
popularity among the community, there is not a single
British Asian player in league football.
itís nonsense," says sociologist Jaz Bains,
author of Cornershops and Cornerposts.
"This community has been in this country for more
than 30 years and nobody can tell there hasn't been one
player with the talent to make the grade. That's not the
case with cricket."
What's interesting here is that, football's loss is cricket's gain. "We've
now got to turn more of these young players in first class
cricket into first class cricketers - and that's a big
difference," says Cox.
But there will be no positive discrimination at Worcestershire.The
only special treatment the club's Asian players get is
dietary says the coach." When we play away sometimes
I have to make sure they know we've got maybe four or
five vegetarians in our side - that's all."