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Black cricketer ‘talent factory’ Haringey College may re-open 26 years after it closed

Black cricketer 'talent factory' Haringey College could re-open 26 years after it was shut

Haringey Cricket College, the north London pathway for black cricketers to break into the professional game, is set to re-open 26 years after it shut down because of a lack of funding.

The college, closed since 1997, could relaunch as soon as next year. Representatives from the England & Wales Cricket Board and Middlesex are actively involved in discussions to reopen the old site in Tottenham.

Investment could come from a range of sources, including the ECB, Middlesex and, potentially, other bodies such as Haringey Council. The college would be open to all children, although it is anticipated it would particularly benefit the African-Caribbean population, who make-up a large number of the local community. The programme would be open to boys and girls alike. Reopening the college would be part of a broader redevelopment by the Selby Trust, who manage community facilities in the area.

“We should be pushing on an open door here and I think we are but there is still a lot to do,” said Andrew Cornish, the chief executive of Middlesex. “We’re hugely supportive. We’ve got senior management involved, we have already engaged with the ECB, we’ve spoken to the Selby Trust. They share our excitement for the project. We think it’d be great news for the county. We’re going to push on really hard. I’m optimistic that it will happen.”

Those involved have already met with representatives of David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham. He is said to be supportive of steps to reopen and provide greater access to cricket in the area.

The charity ACE, which aims to create more opportunities for cricketers from African-Caribbean communities to play the game, are already active in the north London area. ACE could be supportive of being a delivery partner if the charity can receive the necessary funding.

It would take in the region of two years to establish the full facilities at Selby Centre. It is planned that Haringey will have an indoor cricket school and that the cricket facilities already on site will be fully reestablished.

Details about how much funding the college would need, and how big the intake of students will be, are still being worked out. But it is considered likely the college would broadly follow the previous model.

It previously had an annual intake of around 10 players a year and a total intake of around 40 or 50 children, with the students juggling both cricket and studying on site. In total, over 100 students graduated from the college, with all students gaining a National Vocational Qualification.

Haringey’s coach from 1984-97, was Reg Scarlett, the former West Indies Test cricketer. Scarlett was a hugely respected figure in the game, and considered instrumental in Haringey’s remarkable track record of nurturing future professional cricketers. Playing as ‘London County’, the college played against county second XIs, with the counties often then signing the players they competed against.

At one stage during the mid-1990s, 15 first-class cricketers had advanced from Haringey, including Keith Piper, who won the treble with Warwickshire in 1994 and was acclaimed as one of the finest wicketkeepers in England. Mark Alleyne, who played one-day international cricket for England, also emerged through Haringey. It nurtured 25 first-class cricketers in its 14-year existence, and was called “the most successful Sport Academy in the world” by the UK Sports council.

Black cricketer 'talent factory' Haringey College could re-open 26 years after it was shut
Mark Alleyne was an all-rounder for England and captained Gloucestershire - Getty Images /Graham Chadwick

The college closed after it was unable to find the £30,000 or so a year of funding it required. At this point, it did not receive any money at all from the ECB.

Since 1997, the number of black professional England-qualified cricketers in England has fallen by 75 per cent. The decline has also been seen at national level. From 1980-1997, 14 black men made their debuts for England. Since 1997, only six have made their England debuts, as well as two women.

ACE, which launched in 2020, has worked to improve access for young black people to the game. Its focus is upon access and inclusion more than providing a pathway into the professional game. It is hoped Haringey will provide the link between talented young players enjoying the game and then forging a career in the sport.

“At the moment of its inception in 1997, the ECB was present at the funeral of the Haringey Cricket College,” said Dr Michael Collins, a co-author of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket’s report into discrimination in the sport last year.

“Twenty-five years later, cricket has a unique opportunity to put the Haringey Cricket College back on the map.”

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