The foundation, led by its founder and director Mr. Nazar Lodhi, a well-known figure in local politics and an ex councillor, acknowledges the rich diversity amongst the residents of Slough and continues to support community cohesion and inter-faith dialogue. His first experience of cricket proved a huge success in raising the profile of the foundation through a popular sport.
Syed Naqi, full of optimism and a smile all the way, proved his worth in organising a tournament featuring six teams – Baylis Warriors, Britwell Lions, Chalvey Chipmunks, Farnham Flames, Stoke Green and Upton Bridging Gaps Tigers - representing different wards in Slough and guest players arriving from as far as Croydon and Northamptonshire. The swagger of certain individuals was apparent in the group stages and it came as no surprise for them to bring on display the ‘specialized’ match-winning skills of tape-ball cricket.
Tape-ball cricket is all set to gain stronger footing in England, amongst the Asian contingent, more so with Pakistanis. This innovative form of cricket has its origins in Karachi in the 1960s which then not surprisingly quickly spread to all the towns and cities of the country. In its formative phase tape-ball cricket was played in the streets and on the roads over the weekend amongst players with little access to regular club cricket. A tennis ball was given a new dimension after being covered with electrical tape for it to be used for a quick bash. Shortage of playing fields and increasing expenses of proper equipment provided further impetus to tape-ball to be played on any hard surface available with a sizeable space for a cricket match to take place.
Watching tape-ball cricket at Stoke Green was some experience. Eleven-a –side, six-overs per innings with no fielding restrictions, set the scene for some entertainment with a match, on average, lasting 45 minutes. With no gloves or pads in sight for either batsman or a wicket-keeper, it is hard to imagine a simpler format to engage in a game of cricket.
The big hitters, smashed the ball out of sight for huge sixes, for the organisers to lose about 25-30 balls in the process, in the fields adjoining the club on one side and over the road on the other side. The bat, as you would have guessed enjoyed domination over ball as is the case with T20 cricket. The bat used in tape-ball cricket is of the lightest wood available although fibre material too is finding its way. A standard tennis ball, covered with white tape, transforms into a weapon, best employed by pace bowlers with skiddy pace. Faced with shorter boundaries and aggressive batsmen, one did not witness skilful spin bowling of merit and instead pace seemed the best option to contain the flow or runs, with margin error squeezed next to nothing.
The crowd at Stoke Green CC had great fun on a beautiful late summers’ day and the food stalls did not do too badly either. The high-scoring final was icing on the cake for the organisers as Upton Tigers chased down a total of 119 with 3 balls to spare against Britwell Lions. The winners were presented with a trophy and a cash prize of £600 by Avatar Kaur, Deputy Mayor of Slough. The runners-up Britwell Lions, went away with a trophy and £300. The sponsorship and additional support of Zahid Raja, Rana Rupinder Singh, Zulfiqar Chaudhry, Kewel Singh Randhawa, Roomi Malik, Harjinder Singh Ghair CLLR. Rob Anderson CLLR, Shabnam Sadiq, made it a successful event. Rasheed, the ground manager at Stoke Green CC, supervised the tournament and ensuring its smooth running and the game played in the right spirit.
The tournament hosts Stoke Green, one of the oldest clubs in the region, established way back in 1815, sits on the border of Buckinghamshire, on the outskirts of Slough, Berkshire. A cosy club house with its walls adorned with cricket memorabilia and memento, highlighting club’s success both individual and team, stretching back to the Victorian age. With 8 wins in its 18 league fixtures, the club is placed 4th in the 2018 Thames Valley Cricket League – Division 1.
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