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Haringey and Black cricketers
Posted by: hawke
Date: 20/03/2013 20:26
I posted this article on the Corridor of Uncertainty just over a year ago. Ive not re-read it in a while but I think I edited it after some comments by other posters. Once again you may be able to contradict me and very likely add fresh information. All my research was on the internet and there will undoubtedly be gaps die to a lack of local knowledge.



Hackney’s neighbouring northern authority is Haringey, a council district which has received much negative publicity over the years and where, of course, the infamous riots of 2011 began. It is a district, like Tower Hamlets and Hackney, where cricket has not been strong – notably in the east of the borough - and where various national and local cricketing initiatives have also been introduced.

It is also where a particular initiative to develop inner–city, mainly Black, cricketers was established at Haringey College in Tottenham. 20% of the population in Haringey are Black (compared to 7% Asian) and they mostly live in the eastern part of Haringey in such areas as Tottenham.

This brings up the whole question of English Black cricketers and the following is a list I have compiled of ‘home’ produced Black players who ‘established’ themselves in county cricket on the criteria of having made at least fifty appearances for a county.

In chronological order of county debuts it is:- Roland Butcher (1974), Monte Lynch (1977), Wilf Slack (1977), Gladstone Small (1979), Norman Cowans(1980), David Lawrence (1981), Neil Williams (1982), Devon Malcolm (1984), Phil DeFreitas (1985), Mark Alleyne (1986), Joey Benjamin (1986), Daren Foster (1986), Chris Lewis (1987), Steve Bastien (1988), Frank Griffith (Derbyshire), Keith Piper (1989), Carlos Remy (1989), Paul Weekes (1990), Dean Headley (1991), Mark Butcher (1991), Robert Rollins (1992), Adrian Rollins (1993), Alex Tudor (1995), Carl Greenidge (1998), Steve Bastien (1988), David Alleyne (1999), Ricky Anderson (1999), Robbie Joseph (2000, Michael Carberry (2001)and Keith Barker (2009).

Two matters come to mind. Firstly, the rise and fall in numbers of Black English cricketers both at county and international level. 4 made their first-class debuts in the seventies, 14 in the eighties, 7 in the nineties and just 3 in the first decade of the new century. No Black cricketer has represented this country since Mark Butcher in 2004 and before that Alex Tudor in November 2002. This despite the fact that a high proportion of the players mentioned have played for England in either Test or international cricket, that is thirteen of the nineteen - including all the first nine.

The second matter, and one which I had not previously realised, is that most of the first Black ’English’ cricketers were born in the West Indies and came to this country with their families as children and in some cases as teenagers. In other words they all very likely gained an enthusiasm for the game and early skills in the Caribbean, namely Butcher, Lynch, Slack, Small, Cowans, Williams, Malcolm, DeFreitas and Benjamin, a remarkable nine of the first ten. And yes they all went on to represent England.

David Lawrence, born in Gloucester, was the first UK born and bred Black player followed by Mark Alleyne from Tottenham. Both played for England. Paul Weekes from neighbouring Hackney is a second Middlesex product but unlike Alleyne, who played for Gloucestershire, he established himself for his native county. He did not represent England but was an excellent county cricketer.

Some of the players, Headley, Butcher, Greenidge and Barker, had very strong family connections with the first-class game (Barker's father was a West Indian league pro in Lancashire and a half-brother trailled with Lancs), whilst another, Joseph, came here from the West Indies as a teenager on a cricket scholarship. So it is difficult to describe them as 'ordinary' cricketers emerging from the community. So that since Paul Weekes made his debut for Middlesex in 1990 only Alex Tudor and Michael Carberry can be said to have appeared from the UK’s Black population to make a living out of first-class cricket.

Keith Barker, who is a footballing/cricketing all-rounder, is an interesting case as he was a junior with Blackburn Rovers and signed for Warwickshire after it was clear he would not make a career in the higher levels of soccer. His family have strong cricket connections and he is god-son of Clive Lloyd (indeed a middle name is Hubert). He ended last season strongly taking 8 wickets and scoring 85 against Yorkshire at Leeds.

The many reasons for this lack of Black English cricketers have been aired many times. The major factor is arguably one which affects all races in this country, the lack of facilities in so many urban areas. How many White English cricketers for instance have emerged from the inner-city? Cricket requires coaching and facilities as is confirmed by the high number of cricketers who have emerged from the Public Schools.

Black participation in local league cricket is generally recognised to have declined over the years so that some clubs which used to have a predominantly African-Caribbean membership now see their junior ranks filled with Asian youngsters. I saw this at Leyton for instance when I de-toured into Essex. Many inner-city youngsters play sport but of course it is usually soccer and it has probably gained participants at the expense of other sports.

But what have the cricket authorities doing about this? In Haringey there was one special initiative which began in the nineteen eighties as Haringey Cricket College in Tottenham. The list of Black first–class cricketers who ‘graduated’ from Haringey is very impressive and reads Mark Alleyne, Steve Bastien, Frank Griffith (of Leyton), Keith Piper and the Rollins brothers.

Mark Alleyne, who is now MCC Head Coach and Chairman of the Professional Cricket Coaches Association, is undoubtedly the most impressive graduate. He captained Gloucestershire - leading them to four one-day titles - and then became county coach, represented England in international cricket and after leaving Gloucester coached at the National Performance Centre at Loughborough - including running the England under 15s. In 2004 his outstanding work was recognised with the award of an MBE.

The background to the formation of Haringey Cricket College was revealed in an article in ‘The Independent’ in 1997 which explained, “ It was the inspiration of a local councillor who recognised the wasted potential of the youngsters he saw from the top deck of the bus on the way to work, playing unsupervised games in parks. The project finally became a victim of rate-capping, but the college survived under the umbrella of the London Community Trust, and last year became a registered company with charitable status. More recently, the future has been secured by a donation from the Grand Metropolitan Charitable Trust.”

Keith Waring, then director of training, was determined that the students studied hard for their NVQs because they were seen as the ‘insurance policy’ should they not make it as players. He was quoted in the article as saying, "Let's face it, most of them don't get county jobs. But if they work hard they will all get jobs of some kind in cricket. We've even got two of our boys working in township schemes in South Africa."


However, funding ran out in 2000 and the project came to an end, the cricket writer Scyld Berry believing this to be the single most important reason behind the decline in African-Caribbean representation in county cricket.

Thankfully, the scheme has recently been revived with much of the money coming from the Wilf Slack Trust, a charity set up after the Middlesex and England left-hander collapsed while batting and died, aged 34, in 1989. However, it is in a different guise and now goes by the name of ‘Grass Roots Academy’. It is no longer based at Haringey but at The Oval.

The revived Academy states plainly on its website, “We aim to provide a cricket based academy targeted directly at school leavers and under-privileged young people providing specialist cricket coaching and education. The academy is geared towards secondary school and college students between the ages of 14 and 21, which falls in line with the current social situation we have at present with the problems of guns and knife crime dominating the headlines. We aim to provide another option for young people setting the highest standards for education, lifestyle and cricketing excellence.”


The Academy has also bullet pointed five main aims:-

1. To produce high quality cricketers and model professionals for the game to serve as future role models
2. Stimulate passion for the sport of cricket
3. Empower inner city youth through cricket
(targetting inner city areas through cricket)
4. Provide the necessary structure for personal and professional success
5. Help to produce international cricketers

The team played a dozen fixtures last season against such opponents as the Northants Academy, MCC young Cricketers and the Isle of Wight Academy. A photograph of the side show 5 Black, 2 Asian and 6 White young cricketers. Carl Greenidge is one of the four coaches. Good luck to them.

If the ‘Grass Roots Academy’ can be as successful as the ‘Haringey Cricket Academy’ then marvellous but meanwhile there is a gap up in Haringey itself and though I see there are moves to introduce a secondary schools cricket league there and Charlotte Edwards MBE, the England womens cricket captain, visited a summer holiday sports camp on the Broadwater Farm estate – under the banner of ‘Chance to Shine’, there is still precious little cricket played in the east of the borough.

Camp leader John Sullivan said bluntly: "A lot of the areas we coach in are football orientated – it's hard to set up new initiatives especially as cricket is stereotyped as a middle class sport. 24 out of the 27 children here don't know what cricket is."
Broadwater Farm is home to an award-winning football team coached by youth and sports development leader Clasford Stirling MBE and he said tellingly: "Cricket doesn't exist on this side of the borough. We need to bring back cricket greens and cricket teams in boroughs and schools. How do we know if we've good cricketers if there is no chance for them to play?”

But there are some new ideas and there is fresh funding for according to ‘Haringey Sports Initiative’ - under a programme run by the ‘Chance to Shine’ and also the ‘Cricket for Change’ organisations in 2010 -, “ 15 schools around the Broadwater Farm area are to receive a total of more than 500 hours of top-quality free cricket coaching this summer term and for the next three years!”

The report continued, “This is linked to developing free community club coaching sessions on Wednesday evenings at the Broadwater Farm Sports Centre which will link to the cricket clubs based in the Hornsey area of Haringey where the best and most talented players will be able to further their progress.

The fifteen schools are getting a mixture of curriculum and after-school coaching to give more and more youngsters the opportunity to try cricket and to encourage them to take up the sport “.

Vice Principal and Partnership Development Manager, Dave Thomas reports: “ We are very excited about this Cricket Programme. The talent amongst the young people in Haringey is enormous and this will give them the chance to develop that talent and to progress to county level and beyond just like former Haringey pupils have done in the past. The partnership between the schools, cricket clubs, Broadwater Farm and the Middlesex Development team is one which really should produce results.”

Here is hoping they can instill enthusiasm and skills, provide links with established cricket clubs and regenerate cricket in this locality.

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