A new scheme which aims to encourage more players of Asian origin into professional cricket in England and Wales has been set up.
The South Asian Cricket Association (SACA) will offer bursaries, education opportunities and coaching aimed at helping British Asian cricketers between the ages of 18 and 24 pursue a career in county cricket. Former England seamer Kabir Ali is among the directors, while Wasim Khan, the PCB’s CEO, Isa Guha, the former England swing bowler and current broadcaster, and Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, are among the patrons. Ambassadors include Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Saqib Mahmood.
While there are already schemes aimed at encouraging players from the South Asian community – most notably, the ECB’s South Asian Action Plan (SAAP) – they are primarily aimed at boosting participation levels. The premise of SACA is built on the understanding that there are few problems at participation level – 30% of recreational cricketers in England and Wales are classified as ‘British Asian’ – but the figure drops alarmingly to around 5% when it comes to men’s professional cricket.
Research also suggests that, while British Asian cricketers account for 15.5% of the numbers on the ECB’s talent pathway at the Under-10 to Under-15 levels, this figure drops to 12.9% at U16-U19 levels. And the situation is worsening: in 2014, there were 30 British Asian cricketers within the professional county game, but there were only 22 in 2020.
To counter this trend, SACA aims to select a squad of around 16 players during the summer of 2021. To do this, they will consult with academy coaches across the land, stage a series of trial games and hold interviews.
Those players will then be offered individual training programmes, including strength and conditioning and dietary advice, aimed at helping them find a pathway into the professional game. They will also receive educational opportunities with a view to providing them with employment options once their playing days have ended. The squad will play competitive matches against county second teams and the National Counties (formerly minor counties).
By overcoming some of the obstacles which are routinely reported to inhibit their progress, SACA aims to increase the percentage of British Asian players within the professional game to 8% by the end of 2024 and 15% by the end of 2027. The scheme also aims to see 10% of coaches coming from the British Asian community by the end of 2027.
The ECB has not yet pledged any funding, though it is understood a presentation was favourably received by Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, in recent days. SACA is understood to be close to naming a partnership with a major university and has some private investment and donations in place.
The scheme is based upon the PhD research of Tom Brown, a pathway coach at Warwickshire, at Birmingham City University.
England vs India women’s Test 2021 – Harmanpreet Kaur: ‘We may not have much practice, but mentally we’re prepared’ | Cricket
Harmanpreet Kaur believes that a lack of adequate game time in the longest format in the lead-up to India Women’s return to Test cricket after nearly seven years can be offset in some measure by cultivating a positive outlook and heeding advice received from Ajinkya Rahane.
“I’ve played only two red-ball matches [in international cricket]. As a batting group when we have a discussion… this time we got a chance to speak to Rahane as well,” Kaur, the India Test vice-captain, said of her “easy and friendly talk” with her male counterpart in Southampton, where both the Indian teams served a hard quarantine upon arriving in the UK on June 3. “He shared his knowledge with us as to how to approach batting in the longest format and how one should divide their innings into parts.
“We may not have much practice under our belt [going into the Test], but mentally [we are prepared]. We’ve discussed a lot of things so we prepare ourselves well for the match. Even in the nets, we’ve tried to be in a good frame of mind because when you are happy, other than thinking too much about your batting, you tend to play well.”
The women’s team arrived in Bristol on Monday for the one-off Test against hosts England that begins on Wednesday. The opening fixture of a seven-match multi-format assignment, the Test marks India’s first outing in the format since the one-off Test at home against South Africa in November 2014. On the domestic circuit, the last multi-day women’s competition – the Senior Women’s Inter-Zonal Three-Day Game – was held in March-April 2018, in Thiruvananthapuram.
Kaur admitted that inadequate preparedness heading into the tour wasn’t ideal, but welcomed the revival of Test cricket for her team.
“Whatever time we’ve got [since coming out of quarantine], we’ve tried to simulate match scenarios as much as possible and tried to keep ourselves in the best frame of mind,” Kaur said. “We didn’t get much time to prepare, or any practice games. Individually, it’s imperative to adapt to the situation.
“We’ve never tried tinkering too much with Shafali because she is a natural player, and if you try talking too much technique or game planning with her, she can get disturbed because she is only 17″
Harmanpreet Kaur is all for letting Shafali Verma develop her own way
“The surfaces are different to what we get in India. We’ve practised against the swinging ball in the nets. We have a further two days – today and tomorrow – to prepare ourselves better for the match, so I hope we’ll be able to do that well.
“It’s a totally different scenario [to playing with the white ball]. I know we didn’t even get any domestic games with the red ball. In the upcoming season and years we’ll get more red-ball cricket also, which is a very good sign for us.”
As with Tests in the Women’s Ashes, the Bristol Test will feature the use of the Kookaburra red ball (the Dukes ball is usually used in England), with England captain Heather Knight saying last week that “we’re going to be using a Kookaburra in this match because that’s what we’re going to be using in the Ashes and it’s no secret this Test match is a huge part of our preparation going into that Ashes series and that Ashes Test match away from home.”
Kaur said that in the practice sessions India have had so far, the Kookaburra didn’t pose much challenge.
“Dealing with a Kookaburra didn’t feel too different because the ball size and weight is roughly the same [as the white ball we use in limited-overs cricket]. The last time we played [a Test], we felt the red ball was a bit heavier than the white variant, which makes you rely on your timing more. But the Kookaburra white and red ball feels the same; just the colour is different. We felt good playing with it because when you’re in whites and you play with the red ball, it’s a totally different feeling.”
When asked about the likelihood of 17-year-old big-hitter Shafali Verma making her debut on Wednesday, Kaur stressed that it was important for the senior players and the team management to refrain from talking shop too much with the young batter.
“We’ve never tried tinkering too much with Shafali because she is a natural player, and if you try talking too much technique or game planning with her, she can get disturbed because she is only 17 years old,” Kaur said. “To burden her with too many thoughts isn’t the right thing.
“All of us try to create a good environment for her to be able to feel less pressured and be able to enjoy her cricket well. She was looking great in the nets, and I hope if she gets a chance to play she’ll do better.”
As regards Jhulan Goswami, the senior-most bowler in the Indian attack, Kaur was hopeful that the 38-year-old pacer would replicate in this Test the consistency and success that’s been a hallmark of her nearly two-decade-long international career.
“She is someone who always takes the lead whenever we’re on the field,” Kaur said. “She’s always [been] special for us because her quota [of overs] is [important]. She will always give us breakthroughs whenever we need. Not only her but all the bowlers are very important because in Test matches you need breakthroughs, and I think she will be fantastic in this match also.”
The tour of England is also returning head coach Ramesh Powar‘s first assignment since replacing WV Raman in the role last month. Kaur, who is also India’s T20I captain, said her interactions with Powar on the ongoing tour had been no different to those during his first stint in the position which ended with the 2018 T20 World Cup, following a high-profile controversy involving himself, ODI captain Mithali Raj, Kaur, T20I vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, and several members of the now-defunct Committee of Administrators that was overseeing the BCCI.
“My interactions with him have been the same [as before]. He is someone who’s involved in the game all the time and expects the same of the players. Whenever you speak to him, you feel like you’re in a match. He asks you to imagine yourself in a match situation and figure out how you would react to it.
“I get a lot of information speaking to him because he, too, has played a lot of cricket, including T20 cricket. So the experience is the same. Whatever we had done in 2018, we are repeating those things now as well.”
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ind vs NZ – WTC winners to take home USD 1.6 million as well as Test Championship mace
Runners-up to get USD 800,000; the teams will split the prize money in case there isn’t a result
The winners of the India vs New Zealand World Test Championship (WTC) final will take home USD 1.6 million, as well as the Test Championship Mace, while the losing team will get USD 800,000, the ICC has announced. In case there is a stalemate, or weather prevents a winner from being identified despite the reserve day, the two teams will split the total prize money of USD 2.4 million.
Australia, who finished third on the points table, England, who were fourth, and Pakistan, the fifth-placed side, will receive USD 450,000, USD 350,000 and USD 200,000 respectively, while the remaining teams that were a part of the competition – West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – will get USD 100,000 each.
India Women in England 2021 – Nat Sciver
England vice-captain hopes home conditions will help overcome visitors’ mix of experience and bold youth
Sciver is one of six women in the current England squad who played in their last Test encounter with India at Wormsley, which the tourists won by six wickets. India have also named six players from that match in their current squad along with talented 17-year-old Shafali Verma.
Richa Ghosh, another 17-year-old who was recently added to India’s list of centrally contracted players, is not part of India’s combined Test and ODI group but is in the T20I squad for the multi-format series in which points are awarded across the standalone Test, three ODIs and three T20Is to decide the overall series winner.
“They’re an ever-growing side,” Sciver said. “There’s always a new, young talent on the team who isn’t afraid to go out there and show what they’ve got. They seem to be more fearless than I’ve seen before.
“Last time we played India, we weren’t very good in that Test match and we didn’t play to our potential so hopefully we can do better this time.”
“They don’t come around very often so it does bring something different to training and when you’re looking at tactics and stats that have been before you can’t really go on any of those because they’re so few and far between, women’s Tests,” Sciver said.
“So it is a learning curve every time we start to prepare and turn our minds to it. We’ve had a practice game and we’ve had a few centre-wicket practices where we’re just seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t work.”
Sciver was awarded the vice-captaincy on a permanent basis when England named their Test squad last week, having stood in for the injured Anya Shrubsole on the winter tour of New Zealand. She has already had a taste of the top job after acting as captain when England completed a 3-0 sweep of their T20 series against New Zealand while Heather Knight had a hamstring injury.
“I thought that Heather might hold on for that game that I actually had to captain so that was very nerve-racking,” Sciver said. “But it’s an absolute honour to be asked and something that I’ve had aspirations to do, to become more of a leader in the team, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“Naturally, I lead by action, not so much with my voice… helping girls along and I guess leading by example a little bit. That’s my style and hopefully I can grow from there really because if Heather does go down I’m going to need to lead in a different way. It’s a learning opportunity and something that I’m welcoming and really excited about.”
Allrounder Sciver was Player of the Match, scoring a half-century and taking 3 for 26 as England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in their ODI series in New Zealand in February. Her form at the start of the English summer has been more modest, with 26 runs and two wickets from three rounds of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy before entering England’s bio-secure training bubble.
“I feel good, I’d like a few more runs, being selfish,” Sciver said. “It was good to play some games. The practice games that we had were a bit rain-affected and a bit disjointed so it was good to play the last couple of weekends with my domestic side, the Northern Diamonds. It’s coming out nice with the ball but I’d like a few more runs, hopefully that will come.”
India’s most recent form is less impressive than England’s after they were defeated at home by South Africa 4-1 in their ODI series and 2-1 in the T20Is in March.
In the multi-format series, four points will be up for grabs in the Test with two points for a draw and one for no result while each of the three ODIs and three T20Is will be worth two points for a win.
As principal partner of England cricket, cinch is proud to help drive women’s cricket forward, literally. The online used car retailer showed its support for the team and their coaches by providing them with team cars to make the road to success that little bit more comfortable. See cinch.co.uk for more
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo
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