Essex County Cricket Club, in partnership with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), hosted a community forum at Hainault & Clayhall Cricket Club to allow fans, players, coaches, volunteers, cricket aficionados and the media to air their views on how to help make cricket a better experience for all.
The aim of the evening was to gauge opinions through valuable feedback, ideas and thoughts – from those who play, watch, follow, or work in the game – in order to help improve operations at grassroots level.
As part of the evening of activities Essex Cricket, the National Cricket League, London Tigers, Capital Kids Cricket and other cricket providers came together and staged activities which showcased outstanding cricket activities and programmes taking place in East London and Essex.
Before the exchange of views discussions, attendees were treated to two Elliott Davis T20 Asia Blaze games, which greatly impressed all guests, including ECB representatives. Both games between Afghanistan and Bangladesh and Pakistan against a rest of Asia Select saw high scoring with very good individual performances. The culmination of both ties saw Pakistan and Afghanistan reach the final of the 2017 T20 Blaze.
Along with a call for community partners from traditional clubs to attend, there was also a focus on the participation of South Asian communities in cricket.
Although Pakistan and Essex superstar Mohammad Amir could not attend the proceedings, the attendees were enlightened by the welcome presence of the ever popular Ravi Bopara and Syed Ashar Zaidi. During an interactive Q&A Session both stars addressed the audience and spoke of their pathway to the pinnacle of the game, advising young aspiring cricketers on the need to couple hard work with talent to ensure a fighting chance of success. Guests also had the opportunity to meet and greet the cricketers.
The session was followed by an ECB workshop during which everyone was given the opportunity to voice their experiences and highlight the challenges they had faced on their journey through cricket as a fan, player, coach, or umpire and on such issues as cricket club development programme and league set ups.
The consultation with the ECB also focussed on how the Essex Club is working in partnership to showcase some excellent South Asian programmes and talent.
Vikram Bannerjee, Head of Strategy at the ECB, said, “I think it’s been a great showcase here today and an opportunity to strengthen ties amongst our communities. It’s always good for us to engage, speak and learn from everyone and this is a great example of how we come together, reflect and move forward. I envisage good outcomes from the consultation here today which will beneficial and sustainable in the long term.”
Sajid Patel from the National Cricket League added, “This is the first time we had an opportunity to bring a team from the ECB to East London at Hainault & Clayhall CC. This type of consultation would normally take place at Lord’s or the Oval in London.
“The work as a collective in East London, as part of the engagement programme with various communities, has placed Essex Cricket five years ahead of the game, compared to many other County Boards across England & Wales. It was a hugely productive evening and the benefits will be felt in the months and years to come. Thank you everyone for attending.”
Bangladesh cricket star Mosharraf Hossain Rubel played in the T20 Blaze. Against Afghanistan in October 2016 the Tigers star played his first One Day International match after nearly nine years, which is a record for Bangladesh. He concluded, “The standards of cricket on the pitches today have been impressive. Consultations don’t always happen and this is a great opportunity for the players here today as well as future stars and cricket people to have a say in the future of the development of this great game. That is a true example of great practice and commitment to cricket.”