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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#Engagement: ECB in drive to encourage young British Asians to take up Cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has called for the support of the British Asian Diaspora as it continues to invest in grass roots cricket in the community so that aspiring cricketers can follow in the footsteps of the likes of Mark Ramprakash and Isa Guha.

The ECB has reportedly invested more than £1.2 million in a variety of projects around the country with a special emphasis on developing private and public facilities used by cricketers in areas with large ethnic minority communities.

Among those is a major new sports facility at the Crown Hills community College in Leicester, which will be unveiled later this year, and a substantial investment in the famous Perry Hall Playing Fields in Birmingham, used by the Birmingham Parks Cricket League,  which has recently been hit hard by cuts to public funding in the West Midlands.

Now the ECB wants to do more, particularly after a comprehensive survey revealed the extent of ethnic minority participation in the sport in Britain.

The ECB's annual National Cricket Playing survey found that nearly a third of all amateur cricketers were from an ethnic minority background, particularly South Asians who play a staggering 30% of all recreational and amateur cricket in the country.

With a view to tapping into this burgeoning community, the ECB has recently launched initiatives to promote cricket participation in five key cities with substantial South Asian communities: London, Leicester, Bradford, Birmingham and Leeds.

Among the more successful projects has been the 'Last Man Standing' cricket league, an innovative 8-a-side T20 competition that has already been taken up by nearly 8000 players countrywide and the primary schools-focused Ashes Schools Challenge.

Former England Captain and Managing Director of the ECB's Cricket Partnerships, Mike Gatting - who revealed that he was led to the sport by her cricket-mad Sri Lanka-born Geography teacher - said: "Initiatives like this are essential if we are to attract more high quality player into our professional game.  England teams have been enriched in recent years by the presence of players of asian descent such as Nasser Hussain, Ravi Bopara, Monty Panesar and Isa Guha.  We are eager to see many more follow in their footsteps."

The ECB is looking to leverage interest in the game among aspiring South Asian cricketers, particularly given that England will be squaring up against South Asia's two biggest sides, India and Sri Lanka this summer.

This year's National Cricket Playing survey will provide a further opportunity for the community to engage with the Board.

To take part, visit www.ecb.co.uk.

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