New research project boosts BCU mission to make cricket more inclusive

BCU will continue to break down barriers in cricket to make the game more accessible for players from Black and Asian backgrounds.

Having already demonstrated its commitment to inclusion in the game with its pioneering work with the South Asian Cricket Academy (SACA), BCU plans to expand its influence by launching a new research project backed by the English and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The aim of the initiative will be to create more equal cricket talent systems that support young Black and Asian athletes across the UK, especially females.

“To create more effective and efficient systems, we need to understand how to work with more diverse groups within cricket,” said project lead Dr Adam Kelly, a talent development expert from BCU.

“In order to widen the pool of potential, we also need to understand how to attract more British South Asian girls and women into the pathways, as well as retaining and transitioning them into higher playing levels.” 

As well as BCU, ECB and SACA, the project will involve Take Her Lead and ACE, two charities who work to provide more opportunities in cricket for underrepresented groups across the UK.

Chevy Green, Director of Programmes for ACE, said: “We want to create environments where young people can be themselves in a space that accepts them.

“It’s great to be part of this project to diversify talent pathways to include more South Asian and African Caribbean cricketers, as well as other unrepresented groups.

“Cricket as a sport hasn’t supported these unrepresented groups. Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice. We’re deciding to include everyone.”

Dr Kelly said: “It’s brilliant to be working with these organisations. Together, we can impact policy, make a difference for children playing cricket, and encourage more individuals to get involved.”

The project will be supported by two dedicated BCU PhD students, Hina Shafi and Omar Green.

“I’ve experienced sport not being seen as a secure career for a female within my own culture,” said Hina. “I want to see more women and girls in the game, as well as an increase in diversity across the board.”

Omar added: “I want more players to feel more comfortable within the system, so I’ll be looking at how we can create more culturally aware talent pathways.”

The project, named BESTA, will be one of the driving projects for the new Research Lab for Athlete and Youth Sport Development (RAYSD Lab) at BCU, which launched in January 2024. 

A Senior Lecturer in Sports Coaching and Physical Education at BCU, Dr Kelly said: “It’s great timing. The RAYSD Lab connects all the work we’ve been doing to support youth within sport and help every young athlete to achieve their potential.” 

The BESTA project also builds on the work of Dr Tom Brown, a former PhD student at BCU. His research led to the creation of the highly impactful SACA programme. 

Dr Brown, now Managing Director of SACA, said: “I’m excited to be involved in the project. There are some brilliant people around the table. Not only can they provide valuable expertise, but they’re also the right people to influence practice. That’s the most important thing for me. 

“By building on existing research, we can address gaps in knowledge and achieve our goal to make cricket the most inclusive sport in the country.”

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