Bears past and present endorsed the ECB’s Action Plan to engage with South Asian communities in cities across the country when they went back to their cricketing roots in Birmingham.
Cricket has given me a lot, friendship in particular. I have met people from different backgrounds and cultures.Shozair Ali
Warwickshire women’s all-rounder Mina Zahoor, former Warwickshire academy seamer Shozair Al and former Bear and current Leicestershire all-rounder Ateeq Javid all had different routes into the county game and have taken different career paths. But they are all passionate about developing the cricketing potential of the South Asian communities of Birmingham.
All were at Sparkhill Park for the Birmingham launch of the ECB initiative at a game of tape ball cricket, a version of the sport that has been devised so that it can be played in playgrounds, streets or sports halls.
Ali, whose family home is in the shadow of Edgbaston, began playing cricket alongside his father in the thriving Birmingham Parks League. He was put forward for trials with Warwickshire by his PE teacher at Queensbridge School in Moseley and by the end of the season he was opening the bowling for England Under-15s at Lord’s.
He went on to play for England Under-19s but his county career was restricted to one first-class appearance five years ago. Ali now has what he describes as “the second-best job” working for the Warwickshire Cricket Board developing cricket in the county’s schools and running a year-round street cricket initiative.
“It might not be cricket at the highest level but street cricket is the chance to play with your mates and also against people you have never met before,” he said.
“It’s brilliant just to see smiles on people’s faces enjoying the game of cricket. Cricket has given me a lot, friendship in particular. I have met people from different backgrounds and cultures. Sometimes there are language barriers but you can still learn so much from how people play the game.”