Asian Street Cricket Exhibition Tours Bradford Libraries

A photography exhibition illustrating the grass roots beginnings of Asian cricket in Yorkshire will be touring Bradford libraries over the coming months.

The exhibition contains photographs, taken by cricket enthusiast Mohanlal Mistry, of back-street cricket being played in West Yorkshire in the early 1990s. The exhibition was launched at Headlingley Cricket Ground at the one day international between England and Pakistan earlier this year and went on to the Oval in London for the 2016 Asian Cricket Awards. This will be the first time that the exhibition is open to the public and free to visit. It is estimated that over 20,000 library visitors will get a chance to see the exhibition.

It is part of the From Parks to Pavilions project which is documenting the history of Asian cricket in Yorkshire. The project was developed by the AYA Foundation, a community organisation specialising in promoting minority heritage, arts and culture, with support of Bradford Local Studies Libraries, the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, the England and Wales Cricket Boards (ECB), and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Mobeen Butt, the curator of the exhibition and Project Lead of the From Parks to Pavilions project, said: “The photographs perfectly capture how young Asians played cricket in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s. They didn’t play on cricket grounds, in practice nets, or even in parks – they played wherever they could, and that meant playing in alleyways, carparks and wastelands. They played with milk crates, traffic cones and crisp boxes for wickets and would carve out a bat from pieces of broken floor board or fence”.

The project aims to collect material and record interviews from members of one of the oldest Asian led cricket leagues in Britain, the Bradford based Quaid-e-Azam Sunday Cricket League.

As part of the project, the young people visited Bradford Local Studies library to find out about the oral history collection, the newspaper files and cricket memorabilia.

Maria Hussain, one of the young people working on the From Parks to Pavilions project, said: “This exhibition is only a small part of our project. We’ve been to visit archives and museums. We’ve been to Lords, and we’ve been taught how to conduct oral history interviews and been on photography workshops. We will be producing a radio and video documentary and putting everything on YouTube for everyone to see!”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Sport and Culture, said: “It’s important to record the rich history of our South Asian communities participating in one of our great national sports. Cricket is still close to the hearts of local people and is a significant factor in community cohesion. We’re pleased to see the Heritage Lottery Fund get behind this as we have an enormous passion for sport across the Yorkshire region and it is a great unifier.”

Caroline Brown, Bradford Libraries Local Studies Development Officer, said: ‘It’s very important to empower young people with the knowledge and skills to capture the history and development of their local heritage before these histories are lost forever.”

Lord Patel of Bradford, a Director of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said: “We often hear people say that for Asians cricket is a religion, and playing the game is in our blood – an inherent part of who we are.  I believe that this exhibition captures that sentiment perfectly.

“For me personally, it brought back many memories of my childhood experiences of playing this great game – it is so important that we do not forget this rich history, learn from it, understand it, build on it and all move forward – not just in Yorkshire but around the country.”

All cricketing enthusiasts are welcome to contribute or take a look as it tours Bradford libraries in the coming weeks.

The exhibition will be in:
Bradford Local Studies Library from Fri 28th October – Sat 5th November
City Library from Mon 7th November – Sat 19th November
Eccleshill Library from Mon 21st November – Sat 3rd December
Keighley Library from Mon 5th December – Sat 17th December
Shipley Library from Mon 19th December – Sat 7th January
Manningham Library from Mon 9th January – Sat 21st January

To keep updated  join the ‘From Parks to Pavilions’ Facebook group.
Photographs are courtesy and copyright of Mahanlal Mistry.