‘Newham will be cricket capital of east London by 2020’

Ravi Bopara said he is proud to fly the flag for the scheme . PICTURE: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Ravi Bopara said he is proud to fly the flag for the scheme . PICTURE: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

It’s a bold goal, but Newham Council and Essex Cricket are joining forces to help the borough become a powerhouse for cricket players.

It is hoped the partnership will lead to the development of a Newham cricket club that can compete in the Shepherd Neame Essex Cricket League.

The three-year agreement will see Essex Cricket attending the Newham Show in July and holding coaching sessions in schools and colleges.

The club will also be providing hundreds of free tickets for Newham residents to see games at their Chelmsford ground.

This should help people from Newham and the rest of east London follow in the footsteps of local cricketing stars like England and Essex all-rounder Ravi Bopara from Forest Gate, and Saba Nasim, who took up the sport while she was at Plashet School in East Ham.

This year, Saba received the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for her commitment to coaching women and girls in cricket.

To help find the next Ravi and Saba, the council will be setting up an annual Newham cricket festival, two ‘hub’ clubs that can support ten adult and 20 junior teams. amd training around 50 people a year to help coach cricket.

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Ravi Bopara himself said that the partnership was “vital to keep our great game developing and improving”.

He continued: “With such a large catchment area this partnership will create a link that will hopefully see future Essex and England stars making a career in professional cricket.

“I am proud to fly the flag and hope others will follow the same path as myself and achieve their dreams.”

Cabinet member for sports and leisure Cllr Forhad Hussain said he was “delighted” with the partnership between the council and Essex Cricket: “We have huge ambitions for the sport in Newham as we want to make it the place in East London synonymous with cricket.”

He added: “Cricket is a game anyone can play and get involved in. It is a fantastic way of bringing people together and playing sport, which then helps towards them leading longer and healthier lives.”