Harry Chathli, Yorkshire’s new Chair Elect, has hardly got his feet under the table at Headingley yet but is preparing for a hugely special day – one that might create a few family ripples.
“It will be a very proud day but a bit of an odd one,” he smiles, as he discusses his new role in God’s Own County.
On Sunday, he’ll be in Beckenham to watch Northern Diamonds’ action against South East Stars in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
The day will be even more interesting by the fact his keeper-batter daughter Kira will most likely be playing for the other side.
“I’ve told Kira I want her to do well, but I think I might be saying to the Diamonds, ‘I hope you win’,” he says.
Harry, a respected businessman, has a huge interest in women’s cricket. It’s an area of the game he believes is “exploding”.
“If you look at the growth of women’s cricket and women’s sport in general, awareness has increased significantly. Money has come in, there is a professional ethos,” he says.
“When Kira started, for example, at the age of nine, it was completely different.
“An enormous amount of professionalism has come in even over the last three to four years, and women’s cricket is now exploding.”
The Diamonds, he says, have been one of the trailblazers.
“The players we have here, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Hollie Armitage, Bess Heath, to name a few, are superb.”
Subject to approval by Members, Harry will be taking up the job of chair shortly. One of the first things on his list will be familiarising himself with the membership.
“I really want to get to know the people, understand how they would like Yorkshire to develop” he says. “That’s vitally important.”
For Harry, 58, the love of cricket stretches back half a century to the rough-and-ready games he played with neighbours and classmates in Mumbai’s open spaces.
“I grew up in Bombay, Mumbai as it is now called,” he says. “The first birthday gift most kids get is a cricket bat, so that’s where my cricket story started.
“My dad worked for one of the largest employers in India. We lived in the company’s colony. In between the high-rise buildings were a mixture of dusty and green patches where everyone played cricket. Pads and helmets? No, just a bat and ball and whatever we could use as stumps.”
Harry’s father was posted to UK and the family moved to Kingsbury, north west London in 1980. Harry joined Kingsbury Cricket Club aged 14, but played for various clubs well into his 50s in South East London.
“I batted and used to bowl, but my shoulder didn’t like it. I ended up behind the stumps, a role I loved. My daughter is a keeper and my son sometimes keeps for the local club, so maybe it’s in the genes.”
Harry has a long list of cricketing heroes across the skills and eras.
His early idols included opening batters: Tony Lewis, Gordon Greenidge, Sunil Gavaskar, Farokh Engineer.
“I was an all-rounder so from my teens, all-rounders became my favourite because at any stage of the match, they could affect the game,” he says.
Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee, “Clive Rice, who was playing county cricket over here”, Andrew Flintoff, now Ben Stokes, trip off the tongue.
These comments bode well for the likes of Jordan Thompson, George Hill and Matthew Revis, right?
“Absolutely. This club has a rich history of producing all-rounders, and at the moment it’s fantastic for us. I was here to see Hill and Revis score centuries recently. I can’t wait to see how they progress.”
Harry visited Headingley to see his first match in 2000 when England beat the West Indies in two days.
“Craig White ran through them in the first innings with five wickets if I recall and Goughie got 7 wickets in the match.”
He is relishing the prospect of watching Yorkshire rise back up to Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship in the next year or two.
“The quality we have, we are definitely aiming higher,” he said. “I’m sure Ottis and Darren have got their plan in place to get us back up.”
Apart from cheering on Yorkshire and getting to know people, what are the first priorities on his desk, so to speak?
“We have had the ICEC report out with its recommendations. It’s a sobering moment again for cricket and we have to digest it fully and be part of the sport’s efforts to do better. We have made a lot of progress, but where we want to be cannot be achieved overnight. We have so much to do to make sure we learn from our experiences and help the game more widely. I’m seeing the fantastic progress made with the boys’ pathway and we are just getting started with the girls. More youngsters should have the chance to experience good quality cricket at whatever level.
“That is quite critical to create that real enthusiasm for the game and produce representative cricketers of the future.”