Northamptonshire County Cricket Club are holding two public meetings this week in a bid to encourage the county’s ethnically diverse communities to get involved in the game.
The meetings in Northampton tonight (Monday, March 21) and Wellingborough on Tuesday (March 22) have been organised by Steelbacks In The Community.
The club is keen to hear from people from the county's ethnically diverse communities to help explore ways to get more people involved in playing, watching and organising cricket.
Northants' Cricket Development Manager Derek Styman has organised the get-togethers, and says the reason for the meetings is to try and 'understand what the barriers are to those communities'. when it comes to the sport of cricket in the county.
"As a county, we are keen to make sure that as many people as possible in the county benefit from cricket," said Styman
"We acknowledge that we have not got great representation in terms of numbers from the diverse communities in Northamptonshire.
"In order for us to try and encourage more people from diverse communities to be involved in cricket, as a participant, a volunteer or as a spectator, we need to really understand what the barriers are to those communities."
Ahead of the meetings, Styman and other representatives have already met with people from the Bangaldeshi Community, Wellingborough Indians Cricket Club, the Carers Association for Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire Sport and the Northamptonshire Rights & Equality Council.
"We threw out the same question that we are going to throw out Monday and Tuesday," said Styman.
"And that is 'tell us about your experiences'. Tell us about why you think there is a lack of people from diverse communities involved in our cricket clubs, and involved in clubs in general."
Northamptonshire as a club has a good representation of diversity in its player pathways programme, which develops young cricketers from pre-teenage years upwards.
And there are a lot of players, and youngsters in particular, involved in playing club cricket across the county week in, week out.
But it is something of a different story when it comes to spectators attending Northants matches, particularly for the big T20 nights at the County Ground.
There is clearly a big love of cricket among the county's ethnically diverse communities, as indicated when a 6,500 sell-out crown poured into Wantage Road for a One Day World Cup clash between Pakistan and Bangladesh back in 1999.
"The communities love their cricket, but they do not find an affinity with Northamptonshire for whatever reason," said Styman.
"And that is not uncommon, as there are a lot of people that like England Cricket and are not bothered about Northants.
"But if you look around the County Ground on a match day, on a T20 night, it is without doubt a white, male-dominated audience.
"There are a lot of youngsters as well, a lot of children, but not necessarily many people there from our diverse communities."
Styman and the club are keen for that to change, to improve things across the entire cricketing spectrum in Northamptonshire, and it would be great to see plenty of people go along to next week's meetings to share their views, opinions and ideas.
The first meeting is from 7-9pm on Monday evening at the County Ground in Northampton, with the second on Tuesday (7-9pm) at the Victoria Centre in Wellingborough.