Warwickshire's long and proud association with players from South Asian communities has reached its strongest point yet with approximately 60 per cent of players currently on the male pathway at Edgbaston of south Asian origin.
In recognition of South Asian Heritage Month, Brian Halford looks at the connection with Warwickshire County Cricket Club, which stretches all the way back to the 1940s when Abdul Kardar played 45 matches for the Bears.
Kardar went on to captain Pakistan and then become chairman of their board of control. With another former Bears player, Birmingham-born Wasim Khan, now chief executive of Pakistan Cricket, the county’s connections with that country remain close and warm.
The likes of Indian Test match spinner Dilip Doshi, Sri Lankan batting great Kumar Sangakkara and many others have continued the South Asian thread which remains in the first-team squad today with young fast bowler Manraj Johal.
Johal has graduated into the first team group this season and acquitted himself well – which provides a great role model for the youngsters coming through the pathway.
Six of the current academy members are of South Asian origin as are 60 per cent of the male players and one in five girls on the pathway.
“Manraj has deservedly made it through into the first team squad and that is great because role models are vital – you can’t be what you can’t see,” said Bears high performance manager Paul Greetham.
“This Club has always had a good number of South Asian players in the age-groups over the years, but they have not always transitioned through to the men’s first team squad. There are a multitude of possible reasons for this however any conceivable barriers have been removed and as a consequence the Club is reaping the rewards with many very talented young cricketers entering the county pathway and staying in it.Paul Greetham
“Importantly, many of our pathway coaches, both full and part-time, are South Asian. This shows the players what is possible for them to achieve in cricket, either as a player or coach, or another role.”
Recognition of the talents of Bears youngsters has come this summer with a high level of representation at the ECB U15 David English Bunbury Festival (Amir Khan, Tazeem Chaudry Ali, Theo Wylie, Sinel Gunarathne and George Maddy) and the Super Fours Festival (under 18s): Vikai Kelley, Kai Smith, and Ashish Chakrapani (before a call-up to the RL50 1st XI squad).
“Good numbers in regional squads demonstrates the progress many of our young players have made during a turbulent 18 months for us all and their development. We are very proud of all of these players on their selection, and hope they use the Festivals as a springboard to strong futures.” said Greetham.
South Asian Heritage Month takes place July 18 – August 17. It aims to raise the profile of British South Asian heritage and history and better support the understanding of diversity in present day Britain and improve social cohesion.