Winds of change blow ever stronger By ANDREW MILLER

At Sharjah in November, English cricket’s most ethnically representative team of the 21st century took the field. Since the ECB themselves acknowledge that British Asians make up almost 40% of recreational cricketers in England and Wales, the historic selection of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Samit Patel for the Third Test against Pakistan was not before time. It should have been the culmination of a concerted and inclusive campaign to tap into the talents of a vast and under-represented community. Instead, the trio existed as an anomaly on the team sheet. Their simultaneous selection owed more to a separate, equally unresolved, English cricket crisis: an alarming dearth of Test-quality spinners. That’s not to say the selections were not on merit, nor to play down their significance. But their route to recognition had been circuitous: Patel and Rashid had both made their England debuts in the previous decade, yet remained on the fringes, while Ali had been ignored until the age of 27, and owed his selection to the weaker of his two suits. Yet, by England’s next Test, at Durban on Boxing Day, only Ali remained. It was a case of as you were: the path for Asian cricketers to England’s Test team – such as it exists at all – is as underdeveloped as the inner-city parks on which so many of their communities play. Take Springfield Park, a publicly owned cricket field on the banks of the River Lea in Stamford Hill. It is a picturesque part of one of London’s more diverse neighbourhoods, but the facilities are spartan. Teams get changed on a pile of logs by the northern end of the pitch, or under the trees at cow corner, where Orthodox Jews and canal-boat-dwelling refuseniks form the bulk of the passing spectators

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