Asian Cricket Awards co-founders Baljit Rihal (Left) and Jas Jassal (Right) with Culture Secretary Sajid Javed.
The General Election has, unsurprisingly enough, coloured any and all manner of conversations in Britain over the past few weeks.
So it’s unsurprising that twin issues that have dominated political discourse in the run up to 7 May – those being ethnic minority communities and integration – have seeped into the world of cricket.
The 2015 edition of the Asian Cricket Awards was launched at Lord’s this week and discussions quickly turned to the importance and relevance of a separate awards ceremony which celebrates Asians in English cricket.
Launched in 2014, the event is part of a wider effort – which includes numerous programs by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) – to ultimately reflect Britain’s diversity in its various cricket teams: akin to the so-called Black and Ethnic Minority manifestos and other initiatives undertaken by the UK’s various political parties.
Sport, unlike politics, delivers more often than not and the ACA has done more than its share in galvanizing Britain’s South Asian communities to make their voices heard.
It’s a “journey” as the ECB describes that is already beginning to pay dividends not least by honouring those helping to uplift cricket at a grassroots level among British Asian communities across the country – by way of honours such as the ‘Grassroots’, ‘Behind the Scenes’ and ‘Inspiration’ Awards.
The 2015 Awards also features the ECB-sponsored Diversity Project Award, which honours the work done by county cricket clubs to engage with their local British Asian community.
The hope is that that engagement will eventually lead to more young British Asian talent in county cricket and ultimately in the UK’s national squads.
As Baljit Rihal, co-founder of the Awards, told the UKAsian: “The hope is that in ten year’s time, we won’t need an Asian Cricket Awards”.