ECB set to hold tape-ball cricket tournament

By Imran Munawar & Saima Haroon
April 23, 2024
An undated file photo of the England and Wales Cricket Board banner outside a building. — Sky News website

BIRMINGHAM: England cricketing stars have welcomed ECB’s decision to hold a nationwide tape-ball cricket tournament, a form of cricket which originated in the streets of Karachi, Pakistan, in the 1960s.


The casual form of cricket first spread to other towns and cities of Pakistan and then thanks to the Pakistani diaspora community made it to other parts of world and is now played by millions around the globe.

Tape-ball cricket has been played in England for many years as a recreational sport by British Pakistanis and other south Asian communities. Competitions of tape-ball cricket are organised throughout the UK, especially on summer weekends. But this is the first time the format has got some sort of official recognition.

The announcement by England and Wales Cricket Board was made in Birmingham during a showcase tape-ball event full of vibrant music, food and entertainment. A former gas factory in Birmingham’s Digbeth area was transformed for the event, which celebrated the culture of South Asia.

England cricket stars Heather Knight, Adil Rashid and Dawid Malan graced the occasion with their presence and enjoyed watching teams of young girls and boys from “chance to shine” street cricket programme playing tape-ball cricket. The trio also participated in a showcase tape-ball match which also featured members of England’s physical disability team, renowned comedian and broadcaster Atif Nawaz, comedian Shazia Mirza, both of Pakistani origin.

Speaking exclusively to Geo News Heather Knight, Adil Rashid and Dawid Malan described it as a step forward in the right direction. Tape-ball cricket is a format which is very fluid in nature where rules are made according to the situation, place where it’s played and number of players participating and with no expensive pieces of cricket kit like pads, gloves and helmets required. All you need is a tennis ball, a roll of electric tape to wrap around the ball, bats and some sort of space for the pitch to play on.

Knight, Rashid and Malan agreed that this will make the game more accessible to those who can’t afford to bear the expenses of hard ball cricket. It’s a format which can be enjoyed by people of all ages without any gender restrictions.

England women cricket team captain Knight told Geo News that she had a testing time in the middle facing the ball as she played tape ball cricket for the first time. “It’s been a great event and real fun with lots of girls here playing from South Asian backgrounds as well which is really cool and some real talent in there as well. It is really an accessible format so hopefully lots more people can get involved in it which can lead to play more cricket in the future.”

The 2017 Women World Cup winning captain was glad to see the number of girls turning up for the event and hoped that this format will bring more girls towards cricket.

“Hopefully more girls will involve as it resonates with them and they feel like they can get involved in it and be included. It’s obviously a game that was invented on the streets so it’s a game that can be played anywhere. I think it’s really important to be accessible as a sport. The girls here enjoyed it today and there are lots more out there who want to take up the sport and enjoy themselves and have fun.”

Rashid said to Geo News that he also played tape-ball cricket in his early days of cricket. “Even I’ve played tape ball cricket when I was very young but definitely this is the way forward in the sense of getting people into cricket especially from the areas of Birmingham, Bradford where there’s a lot of young Asians coming through who enjoy playing cricket, who like the game of cricket but just can’t play cricket with hard ball.”

Bradford is dubbed “Mini Pakistan” as a large number of Pakistanis live there. “ECB have done a magnificent job, this is officially a tournament now, a recognised tournament,” Rashid said.