History of Asian cricket in Yorkshire to be celebrated
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.”
The project will work with over 20 young people and include trips to museums and archives, as well as visits to Headingley and Lords.
A documentary will be produced which will 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. 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 Sunday, 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 carparks 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.”
Mr Hanif added: ‘We are looking for enthusiastic and energetic young people from across West Yorkshire, aged14 to 24, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org