THERE HAS been a Sussex Cricket double in different national awards ceremonies this week, with two people from the county being honoured for their contributions to the sport.
On Monday evening, there was success for Gary Stanley of the West Sussex Invitation Cricket League (WSICL) and Sussex Cricket Board at the NatWest Outstanding Service to cricket awards (OSCAs), as he claimed the award in the ‘Leagues and Boards’ Category.
And the following night, Azam Riyard, who is Inclusion Officer at Sussex County Cricket Club, was crowned the winner of the ‘Grassroots Award’ at the Asian Cricket Awards.
Gary Stanley has been Chairman of the WSICL for the past five years and in that time, the League has made fundamental changes to its format and structure. Gary has led changes in the playing format of Divisions 5-10 to win/lose 40 over cricket, in line with players’ feedback, and there has been regionalisation of lower divisions reducing travelling time.
Gary has led a strong committee in taking WSICL from a standard Saturday cricket league, to one that goes above and beyond in terms of adapting to the needs of the players, improving standards and increasing participation at all levels.
Simon Wood of Brighton & Hove Crescent Cricket Club was also nominated in the NatWest CricketForce category. Both Simon and Gary were regional winners in Sussex’s own OSCAs evening held last month, when the other winners were; Dorothy Hobden & Rob Wilkinson (both of Hailsham CC), Barry Peay (Horsham CC), Matt Bourne (Chippingdale CC), James Griffin (Keymer & Hassocks CC).
Azam Riyard has been coaching cricket in Crawley for the past ten years and during that time, he was one of the key figureheads in the merger of Serendib CC and Crawley Eagles CC. In his new role with Sussex Cricket, he is developing community engagement programmes specifically in the Crawley area.
The Asian Cricket Awards, supported by the ECB are a celebration of the contribution that is made to the sport by British Asian Players, coaches and administrators. The ‘Grassroots Award’ recognises a project or person in an amateur club that has made a considerable difference using the power of cricket to support others.
Tim Shutt, Sussex’s Head of Cricket Development, who also heads up the Sussex Cricket in the Community programme said: “It is wonderful to see more national recognition for those developing the game in Sussex.
“Both awards are very different. Gary has led a Committee that has adapted the main adult recreational League in West Sussex to fit closer to today’s society, to keep people playing. Azam, on the other hand, has been harnessing the huge passion for cricket that is inherent in those from an Asian background, particularly in and around Crawley.
“Hundreds of youngsters are now participating in school and club cricket, that were, for various reasons, not doing so before.”
“We must also at this point take the opportunity to recognise the 7,000 volunteers in cricket in Sussex. Whilst the Lord’s event can quite rightly single out a few for special recognition, praise and thanks must go to all who keep the recreational game going.”
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