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.
Bangladesh vs Australia T20Is, 2021
The 1994 tour to Pakistan was the last time a full series was not available to viewers in Australia
For the first time since 1994 a tour by the Australia men’s team will not broadcast into Australia after a last-minute deal failed to materialise for the rights to the T20I series in Bangladesh.
It had been hoped that in the absence of a traditional television deal the series would be streamed on YouTube but there was no live coverage into Australia.
While the occasional one-off limited-overs match has not been seen in Australia over the last few years, it is not since the 1994 tour of Pakistan that an entire series won’t have been shown.
The majority of Australia’s tours are broadcast by Fox Sports who secured the recent series against West Indies just a couple of days before it started but a similar outcome has not happened for Bangladesh.
The ongoing Olympics that is taking most of the attention, the 1am finish time of the matches in Bangladesh and the fact Australia are missing a host of first-choice players may also have been factors in the attractiveness of the series. However, it also highlights what is likely to become an increasingly challenging broadcast market, particularly for perceived lower-key tours.
The series will be the last chance for both sides to work on plans and assess players ahead of the T20 World Cup in October. It was confirmed on Monday that Bangladesh’s proposed series against England of three T20Is and three ODIs in late September had been postponed until March 2023.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
IPL 2021 – Eoin Morgan to return to Kolkata Knight Riders for second half of IPL
He says involvement of other England players in the tournament, scheduled in September-October in the UAE, was a matter of personal choice
England were due to play three ODIs and three T20Is in Bangladesh in September-October but the ECB and the BCB released statements on Tuesday morning confirming that they had “mutually decided” to postpone the tour until March 2023. The IPL is due to resume on September 19 after its postponement midway through the season earlier this year, with the tour’s postponement opening up the opportunity for England’s white-ball players to take part ahead of the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Speaking after his London Spirit side were beaten by Northern Superchargers in the Hundred at Lord’s on Tuesday night, Morgan confirmed that he intends to return to captain the Knight Riders in the rest of the IPL, and said that the involvement of other England players with contracts in the tournament was a matter of personal choice.
“It’s a complete individual decision,” Morgan said. “I think it was a win-win either way. If we went to Bangladesh we’d play in conditions that are foreign to us. If some guys go to the IPL, they’ll play in similar conditions [to the World Cup] or for guys that need a rest, they take a rest.
“We’ve a lot of cricket to play between now and then. We’ve planned on the tour going ahead – that’s been part of our planning for a long time now – but equally, given the nature in which we now compete and live our lives, it’s not a bad thing for guys to either take time off or go to the IPL if they feel refreshed and have enough energy.”
England’s only two remaining T20I fixtures before the World Cup starts on October 17 are due to be played in Pakistan on October 14 and 15, with the ECB and the PCB both confident that the tour will go ahead. The IPL final is also due to be played on October 15, creating a possible clash for any players whose franchises reach that stage of the tournament.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
James Anderson admits his wife talked him out of retirement after injury setbacks
England seamer says he struggled after calf problem forced him out of 2019 Ashes
Anderson managed just four overs in the 2019 Ashes after a recurrence of a calf injury ruled him out in the opening moments of the first Test. In the aftermath, he concedes he was struggling with the prospect of more rehabilitation work and it required the intervention of his wife, Daniella, to persuade him to continue.
He has claimed 42 more Test wickets at a cost of 23.00 since then, becoming the only seamer in Test history to reach the milestone of 600 wickets.
“A big reason I am still playing cricket is my wife,” Anderson said ahead of the first LV= Insurance Test against India at Trent Bridge. “She’s been really supportive.
“When I pulled my calf in the first Ashes Test, it was the second or third time I had pulled my calf and I was really considering whether I wanted to go through the rehab again. She basically took us away on holiday and told me to stop being silly. She told me to carry on.
“Of course there have been difficult moments. I think everyone goes through it playing professional sport, whether you are out of form, have a loss of confidence or if it’s injuries. There are all sorts of things you have to deal with. For me it’s about having a good support network: friends and family that you can rely on and lean on.
“My wife has been really supportive. She wants me to keep playing; she encourages me to keep playing. She’s quite happy for me not to be around the house I think.”
Despite his age – he celebrated his 39th birthday a few days ago – Anderson dismissed any suggestion that the next 10 Tests (five against India and five against Australia) could prove the finale of his career.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I feel like I’m bowling as well as ever. I feel great physically. I’m just looking forward to this series against India.
“We’ll look at everything else once we’re past this. That’s something I’ve done really well throughout my career. But right now I’m bowling as well as I ever have and I’m really looking forward to this series.”
“I do like playing here,” Anderson said. “I feel at home here. It is such a friendly place to play. The stewards and staff are incredibly friendly. It’s just somewhere I feel really comfortable.
“In years gone by, swing has played a big part here. It’s a ground where you look up [at the atmospheric conditions] not down at the pitch. If there’s cloud cover or if it’s humid, it’s generally a good place to bowl. If there’s a bit of grass on the wicket it will carry to the keeper and slips.”
“I’m definitely excited to play against him again,” Anderson said. “You always want to challenge yourself against the best in the world and he’s certainly that. We know how big a player he is for them both as a batsman and as captain, he has a huge influence on that team. So we know he’s a big wicket and to be honest I don’t care if I get him out. As long as somebody gets him out that’s the main thing. He’s an important wicket.
“But I think challenging yourself against the best in the world is really exciting and their top six is riddled with talent. It’s going to be a big challenge for us seam bowlers.”
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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