The CEO Prem Jolly of Premia Wines (http://www.premiawines.com) had invited CB Patel, myself and a number of interesting persons to the 3rd Asian Cricket Awards that took place on 23rd September at the legendary Oval Cricket Grounds in London. Frankly I was not sure what to expect but as I entered the stadium and saw the level of planning and spread that had been put together, it became clear that these awards whilst only in their 3rd year, were destined to grow in the years to come.
I had not been to any reception at the Oval before so I was pleasantly surprised that on the 4th floor they have a fantastic terrace that was used for guest reception. The atmosphere was welcoming and of course drinks (courtesy of Premia Wines) and canapés flowed to keep the networking on target. The renowned sports journalist Mihir Bose bumped into me and whilst the chat began, CB Patel arrived with the inevitable nodes from many on the terrace of having recognised the editor-in-chief of Asian Voice. We were joined by Bob Blackman MP, Vin Vara the President of BIRA (British Independent Retailers Association) and Satish Sharma Sec Gen of the NCHT. Of course the event was attended by too many well-known personalities to list them all here.
CB Patel the editor-in-chief of Asian Voice joined Vin Vara the President of BIRA (British Independent Retailers Association) and Satish Sharma Sec Gen of the NCHT.
A bit of background. The Asian Cricket Awards is owned (Baljit Rihal and Jas Jassal) and operated by Inventive Sports. Jas on the ACA 2016, “The Asian Cricket Awards is the ideal platform to recognise and celebrate South Asian success in cricket. There are role models all over the UK with inspirational stories, from those who volunteer, to those who have made cricket their full-time career.”
Jas Jassal and Baljit Rihal – Brains behind the ACA Awards
Moving on, as the sun was setting we were led to the banqueting hall which was beautifully set up as you would expect for a function of this calibre. By the time we were seated dinner was served and let us say, everyone tucked in whilst the conversations carried on to the next level.
Suddenly the compere for the evening, Tommy Sandhu (Breakfast bloke on the BBC Asian Network, TV guy on The Travel Show and BBC1 with Sunday Morning Live) exploded on stage. He grabbed everyone’s attention with his unique style of presentation and wit. The pace was fast and yes it was even furious at times. Those in attendance will know exactly what I mean.
Over the next hour we saw the young talent coming on stage to collect their awards. Below the full list in recognition of their achievements and all our congratulations:
BEHIND THE SCENES AWARD: Winner: Amna Rafiq (Leicestershire CCC)
GRASSROOTS AWARD: Winner: Shahidul Alam Ratan (Director of Cricket at Capital Kids, London Tigers CC)
AMATEUR COACH AWARD: Winner: Shaz Khan (Oxfordshire CCC, Shrivenham CC)
CLUB CRICKET CONFERENCE INSPIRATION AWARD: Winner: Maryam Ali (community cricket coach in Yorkshire)
MEDIA AWARD: Winner: Vithushan Ehantharajah (freelance cricket writer)
POSTHUMOUS AWARD: Winner: Hamza Shabbir (Hampshire CCC, Downend CC)
PROFESSIONAL YOUNG PLAYER AWARD: Winner: Haseeb Hameed (Lancashire CCC)
WOMAN IN CRICKET AWARD: Joint winners: Nalisha Patel (Lancashire Thunder) and Shabnim Ismail (Yorkshire Diamonds)
FOUNDERS SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: Kumar Sangakkara (former Sri Lanka captain)
PROFESSIONAL COACH AWARD: Winner: Cookie Patel (Regional Training Manager, ECB)
ASIAN CRICKET CLUB AWARD: Winner: Indian Gymkhana CC (West London)
PROFESSIONAL PLAYER AWARD: Winner: Adil Rashid (Yorkshire CCC and England)
Teenage Lancashire batsman Haseeb Hameed capped a memorable month by picking up the Young Player award. Hameed, 19, was last week called up to the England Test squad for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh. If he plays, he will become the youngest player to represent the country since Brian Close turned out against New Zealand at Old Trafford in 1949.
Winner Nalisha Patel (Lancashire Thunder) collecting award from Prem Jolly CEO Premia Wines and Bob Blackman MP.
Baljit Rihal of Inventive Sports said, “2016 has been a tremendous year for Asians in cricket, and one I believe marks a significant chapter in the progression towards greater inclusion and diversity in this country”.
The evening passed by quickly and it was time for carriages. All in all, everyone had a pleasant evening. Those who were shortlisted and those who won the awards received well-earned recognition and applause. I am sure all our youngsters will be practicing hard over the winter break so they are ready for the 2017 season. I for one can’t wait for ACA2017 and I am certain the depth of talent will bring richness to British sports. So I end by saying, well done and my heartiest congratulations to each and every winner.