Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has announced that it has entered into a partnership with Pakistan Super League team, the Lahore Qalandars.
The pairing of the two clubs aims to enable mutual learning, development, and support at all levels, and a commitment to develop accessible pathways to cricket for aspiring players from all backgrounds across Yorkshire.
The Qalandars has set a strong precedent when it comes to executing effective player exchange programmes, with successful partnerships with several Australian Big Bash League teams, enabling a number of exchanged players to demonstrate their international pedigree.
The first iteration of this exchange programme will be the joining of Haris Rauf from the Qalandars to join YCCC as its overseas professional for a period of the 2022 season.
Another key element of this partnership is an opportunity to learn from the Lahore Qalandars’ Players Development Program (PDP).
The PDP was invented to engage young people in Pakistan and give a platform to young aspiring players to showcase their undiscovered talent. Each year the franchise shortlists over 150 players, provides them with kit bag essentials and gives them the opportunity to play a tournament which is broadcast nationally.
Blueprint for inclusion
The new partnership offers a blueprint for nurturing cricket talent whilst reducing barriers to entry.
Through talent scouting across Pakistan, this talent pathway has successfully levelled the playing field, unearthed home-grown talent, and provided opportunities to young people who may otherwise not have considered the sport.
Over three seasons, the PDP has engaged with just under half a million young people across Pakistan through cricket trials, and has produced some of Pakistan’s most notable players, as well as many who have progressed from no experience of playing formal cricket to playing in the Pakistan Super League.
Yorkshire County Cricket Club will now work with the Qalandars to learn from its expertise in identifying and nurturing local talent from all backgrounds, with the aim of creating a similar all-inclusive program and reducing barriers to entry to cricket for young people across Yorkshire.
Haris himself went through the PDP and his contributions to the club will include both his cricketing skill on the field and his knowledge and lived experience of the PDP to help shape how Yorkshire can emulate and develop the initiative.
The partnership between YCCC and Lahore Qalandars will be launched with a friendly game between the two sides on 16th January 2022 in Lahore, following last year’s Lahore Qalandars v MCC match.
This game will be an opportunity for Yorkshire players to meet their Qalandars counterparts, and to lay the foundations for future years of knowledge sharing between the two clubs.
Professor The Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, Chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said: “The work the Lahore Qalandars do both on and off the pitch is remarkable and can serve as a benchmark for clubs around the world – ours included – for how best to spot, foster and support talent at all levels in the game of cricket.
“The Players Development Program is an incredible achievement – breaking the mould for how teams can be created within our sport, and demonstrating that through offering access and support, great cricketing talent can be found from all backgrounds.
“Over the coming months, this, coupled with scholarships and new opportunities and experiences for academy players, will represent an exciting step toward a Yorkshire County Cricket Club that is welcoming and supportive to all.”
Sameen Rana, Chief Operating Officer, Lahore Qalandars: “We are incredibly proud of our Players Development Program and our wider team in Lahore.
“The Program has had an immensely positive impact on both our club and those involved. We are looking forward to working with Darren, Lord Patel and the team as they look to create an inclusive and welcoming culture for all at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.”
Darren Gough, interim Managing Director of Yorkshire Cricket: “I am thrilled to welcome the exceptionally talented Haris Rauf to our club. I am also excited by the opportunity to learn from the inspirational Players Development Program.
“I have spoken in the past about my passion for developing accessible pathways to cricket – for many people from a background like mine, cricket isn’t seen as an option, with the associated costs and access to facilities creating real barriers to entry.
“This partnership is an opportunity to take the blueprint the Qalandars has developed to such a success and work with them to define how that can be used to provide access for potential players from across Yorkshire.”
Aqib Javed, Director of Cricket, Lahore Qalandars: “The way in which we have worked and continue to work with clubs around the world when it comes to exchanging players should be a model that many clubs look to follow. It allows for increased diversity, the sharing of skills and expertise and all of these lead to positive cultures in which excellence thrives.
“We will welcome the Yorkshire team to Lahore in January with open arms and I am sure this is the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership for both clubs.”
The partnership includes
• A player exchange programme to enable international players to learn from each other, starting with Haris Rauf joining Yorkshire as overseas player. • Scholarships for young, aspiring players from Yorkshire travelling to, training, and playing in Lahore, including access to the Qalandars’ first-class facilities, as well as opportunities for young people from Pakistan to come to Yorkshire. • The opportunity for Yorkshire County Cricket Club to learn from and emulate Lahore Qalandars’ Players Development Program (PDP). • The chance for academy players from both teams to train and play in different conditions. • A friendly game between the two sides on 16th January 2022 in Lahore at the world famous Ghaddafi Stadium.