Task Group Results & Findings
The discussion groups offered an insight into the views of the players and their parents. The following is a summary of the main discussion points.
Why cricket is popular amongst Asian communities
The reasons for this were varied from cricket being the national sport of the South Asian countries through to the sport being relatively cheap to participate in.
Those born in South Asia related their experiences in that they grew up seeing cricket played all around them and it was a natural step to also play the game.
Having national teams also kept the popularity going and every village, town and city had cricket grounds or places where people could play cricket.
As one of the few sports where the South Asian countries could compete on a par with the rest of the world, the media coverage was extensive and cricketers were known throughout the country and enjoyed celebrity status. This also helped to keep the sport in the spotlight and made many young people aspire to be like their hero’s.
This celebrity status and possibility to make a good living also was a factor leading many young people to develop their cricketing skills, so that they could escape poverty and have a chance to travel around the world.
How cricket continued in England with the first generation
Those first generation South Asians that came to England brought with them the desire to continue playing cricket, which they were used to back home.
In the early days, it was relatively easy for a number of these people to get together and join the local ‘Park’ leagues, where no club facility was required.
This participation in local leagues continued the interest in the games for many people who came to this country in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Preston had a thriving ‘Park’ League where a number of the teams had either Asian or West Indian players.
Playing cricket was seen as an important part of being Asian, both in the South Asian countries and in England . Participation in other sports was minimal amongst the first generation people.
An Asian team reaching a final of a cup competition was a widely publicised event and many people young and old travelled to the local park to watch the teams battle it out.
How cricket is viewed by the second and third generations
Views of cricket have not changed significantly. The sport still enjoys a wide appeal and many young British Asians play the sport. Indeed, surveys by Sport England show that participation in cricket amongst British Asians is higher than the national average.
Those are the task groups were committed to playing cricket and enjoyed the sport. However, it was noticeable that their reasons for participating owed a considerable amount to the involvement of their parents and peers.
Many second/third generation British Asian cited that they grew up and cricket was played in the community they lived in or a friend played the sport and that made them play too.
Whilst the fact that the South Asian countries had test sides did have a small impact on whether they played cricket, it wasn’t the reason why they started, although, their continuation is influenced by it.
It was also noticeable that the second/third generation cited non-English players as their favourite cricketers. This is possibly explained by the fact that England have not had many outstanding players recently.
Will cricket remain popular amongst South Asians
Within the West Indian communities, a similar desire in playing cricket existed amongst the first generation people who arrived in England . They too joined the ‘Park’ Leagues and excelled in the sport.
However, it has become evident that the second and third generation West Indians in the 1990’s onwards have not continued the interest in cricket. Indeed, there is currently a debate of why did has occurred.
Was this the case for the second/third generation Asians or will this be the fate also.
From those interviewed it was clear that whilst cricket might be their favourite sport, it was Football which they felt was more popular amongst the second/third generation British Asians.
Other activities are also playing a part in reducing the appeal of cricket; Play stations, other sports are all having an effect on the popularity of cricket amongst second/third generation British Asians.
However, all those interviewed were of the opinion that cricket is still a popular sport amongst British Asians and with the South Asian countries doing well at international level and people having access to Satellite TV, watching cricketers from South Asia is readily available.
On a positive note, the number of cricketers from a South Asian heritage representing County and National teams in England has increased significantly in the last ten years. This reflects the increased integration of South Asian cricketers as they start playing in mainstream cricket from an early age, coupled with support from parents who often played in mainstream leagues when they first arrived to this country.