Batley Cricket Club is one heck of an impressive place – a pillar of the local South Asian community, without a doubt. In fact, you could very well add in an extra C to make it Batley CCC – Batley Community Cricket Club. Listen to Saqib Talib talk and it would be very much warranted.

Talib is listed on the PlayCricket website as the club’s first-team captain.

They play their cricket in the second tier of the Bradford Premier League structure.

But he is much more than that.

“My family and I have been involved in running the club for around 25 years now, but it’s great to be getting to the place where we are now with the pathways we’ve built at the club,” he said.

Let us deal with the senior cricket side of things first because it is just a bit part of what goes on down at Mount Pleasant. They have won one of their first three games of the season in Division One, winning at East Bierley on Saturday just gone.

Talib has mixed emotions with regards to aims for the season.

“You can never change the mindset,” he said. “When you walk out on the field, you want to win matches and get promotion. But to sustain the position in the top tier is difficult for a club with limited financial resources as us and to be able to compete up there.

Picture courtesy of Batley CC. The clubhouse down at Mount Pleasant by night.

“We have a young side. I’m the oldest whilst still being in my 30s!

“It’s not just about jumping back to the Premier Division and fighting relegation. It’s about nurturing the youth, getting back there and achieving something special.”

Achieving something special with the seniors may take a bit of time yet, but something special is certainly happening right now with the juniors and off the field at the club. 

Club Chairman Mohammed Jahangir is rightly excited by the direction of travel.

“This year is a very exciting year for us because it’s the first time in 25 years that we’ve got no gaps in the junior programme,” said Jahangir. 

“From All Stars, Dynamos to Under 9s, 11s, 13s, 15s and 18s. We also have a Sunday development team and an U13s girls team that’s being led by our women and girls lead, Salma Afzal.

“We’ve put another team in the Quaid e-Azam League, then you have a second and first team. There’s a pathway right throughout the club. The girls team is an exciting addition, and one we’re particularly keen on growing further. 

“We also host the Schools Cricket Competition games each year, which is a privilege for us to support.

Picture courtesy of Batley CC. The club have recently had new net facilities installed.

“The interest in junior cricket has gone through the roof for us. It’s fantastic to see.

“All Stars, we usually get 20 sign-ups each year, but we’ve just opened it up for this year and have reached 40 in a week already.”

The juniors will now be able to make use of a new net facility, opened at the back end of last month. It’s part of significant renovations at the club which include a refurbishment of their clubhouse.

“We’ve got a three-lane net facility with full run-ups and two mobile nets to county standard for the grass wickets,” continued Jahangir.

“We’ve had a new boundary rope all the way around, double sight-screens, a new car park put in, and the pavilion has been renovated inside and out – – new roof, guttering, alarms, CCTV, we’ve had bidets installed.

“It’s money well spent, and you just can’t recognise it now.

“It’s all been done in the last five or six months.

“When people come to see us, Paul Cummins was one from the Yorkshire Cricket Board, they can’t believe it, ‘How have you done all this in five or six months?’ 

Picture courtesy of Batley CC. The club have undertaken significant renovations this winter.

“But, at the end of last season, we shut the doors and started in earnest.

“We’re only three weeks into the season, but the nets have made a massive impact.”

“We don’t have a bar, which most clubs do. That’s where their revenue comes from,” continued Jahangir. 

“We have a different formula to a lot of clubs when it comes to income. And some of our loyal sponsors have been invaluable for the club to continue to offer the programmes we do. 

“I’d like to mention John Cotton, Al Murad, Barker & Finch, EasyRest Beds, Global Components & Wheatcroft, who have put their trust in the club for over two decades.

“We do a lot of community stuff.

“Our aim is to have the ground open 365 days a year. That’s the ultimate aim.

“Our Community Gala, for example, has anywhere between 4-5,000 people attending. 

Picture courtesy of Batley CC. Eid Prayers at Batley Cricket Club.

“We’ve been opening our gates to the community at the time of Eid for Eid prayers over the last 13 or 14 years. This is on the grass, with thousands of people that offer their prayers at our venue. 

“This is particularly pleasing for us as it shows how we can support beyond cricket too.

“We’ve also set up another couple of things. We’ve set something up this year called Batley CC Youth Zone.

“That’s going to be for the children, away from cricket. There’ll be a number of different sports covered, football, cricket, archery, trips and excursions to different places like country parks, Alton Towers to keep the youth engaged and active.

“We’ve also set up the Batley CC Asylum Foundation, which is aimed at providing sporting opportunities and activities to local asylum seekers that have gone through traumatic experiences in their lives.

“There are more major plans to invest more into the facilities at Batley at the end of this season. 

“Our aim is to be one of the best clubs in the league, or even the best club in Yorkshire.”

Another member of the committee is club secretary and Junior Lead, Mohammed Sarfaraz. He talked about the strategic direction and shift within the club.

Picture courtesy of Batley CC. From left to right. Tariq Hussain, Saqib Talib, Roheil Talib and Kashif Talib

“We’re based within a diverse community, predominantly from a South Asian background,” he said. 

“However, we’re proud that we have a growing number of indigenous white juniors and parents at the club, which reinforces our vision of an inclusive and diverse club open to all backgrounds, beliefs and races with the common purpose being the love for cricket.”

Moving forward, Batley have been preparing to introduce Disability Cricket into their portfolio of teams for 2025, which already includes – as aforementioned – girls cricket and also Over 50s.

“When we did the winter renovations at the club, all the regulations for Disability Cricket were taken into consideration – wheelchair access and overall accessibility etc,” said Talib.

“I have friends at Clitheroe Cricket Club in Lancashire – I know some of the committee guys there, the chairman – and they have been a good example that we’ve taken inspiration from. They’ve helped us a lot.”

Former Yorkshire fast bowler Moin Ashraf is involved with the club’s juniors and has had a significant impact, while current Gloucestershire left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar is one of their former players.

Jahangir paid tribute to the work of a host of volunteers, be it coaches or committee members. 

Groundsman Yasin Patel has been a loyal servant of the club, and Tariq Hussain is a club legend who took over on the field over 25 years ago during the changing of the guard from the previous club management. 

Picture courtesy of Batley CC. Batley’s Mount Pleasant home.

Tariq’s brother (and Saqib’s father), Talib Hussain, has been a quiet but instrumental influence off the field, with all three being key to where the club finds itself today. 

The late Farid Karolia deserves a special mention as he, alongside the three gentleman set the foundations for the club to become a respectable member of the Bradford Premier League. 

With recent additions such as Sarfaraz and Salma on the junior development front, the club can look forward to some exciting times ahead.

And that is a fascinating prospect. They may not be at the top of the Bradford League standings, but for many other things Batley CC are leading the way.

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