Moeen Ali backs new initiative to involve more British Asians in cricket
All-rounder hopes ECB initiative will attract new generation of players
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 13/05/18 10:33pm
England all-rounder Moeen Ali is backing a new national plan to better engage and fund prospective cricketers from this country's South Asian communities.
The England and Wales Cricket Board's action plan, launched on Thursday, identifies key objectives which it hopes can improve engagement and recruitment.
It is an initiative which chimes with Moeen, who has won 145 caps across the formats for his country but can see there are still "barriers" to others following his lead.
"Growing up in inner-city Birmingham, I fully understand some of the challenges and barriers for young South Asian cricketers," he said. "I see many of those challenges now when I help my dad coach at his cricket academy."
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He believes extra investment can be a major step forward.
"Many parents are still struggling to afford kit for their kids, and the new bursaries will give emerging players the opportunity to continue to improve and develop in the game," added Moeen.
"In the next six months, England's men play against Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka - and as well as hoping to play my part on the pitch, I'm looking forward to seeing a new generation of players, fans and coaches coming into the game."
The ECB's action plan is launched with specific events in 'core cities' - a Chance to Shine Street Tape-ball competition at Sparkhill Park in Birmingham, a schools' cricket competition at Bradford Park Avenue and a women's and girls' cricketing session at Leyton County Ground Sport Centre in east London.
Lord Patel of Bradford, an independent ECB director, has been a driving force behind the plan and will be in attendance.
He said: "As a British Asian who grew up playing cricket in the streets and on the pitches of Bradford in the 1960s, I have first-hand experience of the enormous benefits of our sport.
"Cricket gave me the confidence, connections and opportunities to meet new people outside my community, as well as develop life-long friendships.
"The passion South Asian communities in the UK have for cricket remains high - but over 50 years later, there is still so much untapped potential. This plan will help to change that - starting today."
Leicestershire chief executive Wasim Khan and cricket pundits Isa Guha and Mark Nicholas were among those taking part in a South Asian Advisory Group.
They identified a lack of effective talent spotting as well as access to equipment as problems to be tackled, following consultations with more than 600 people which has resulted in 11 recommended actions.
They include the creation of at least 20 new urban cricket centres, 1,000 non-turf pitches and 100 turf pitches by 2024.
Community 'talent champions' will also lead scouting efforts, with regular cricket sessions held in 6,000 urban primary schools.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison added: "Cricket is a force for good in society, and our job is to ensure that it makes a positive impact on as many people's lives as possible."
For more detailed information and to download the action plan in full, visit www.ecb.co.uk/southasiancricket or contact via SouthAsianCricket@ecb.co.uk