A cricket club which won its league championship could be denied promotion because there is nowhere for them to play.
Tower Hamlets Cricket Club ’s dynamic young squad won the Middlesex Championship Division Three in the 2015 season, providing a showpiece for the array of cricketing talent in the borough.
But, according to Middlesex Cricket League rules, the club needs a grass cricket pitch to play their home matches on or face another season in the third division.
Club treasurer Jawar Ali says the club has contacted Tower Hamlets Council on numerous occasions, but feel interest has waned.
“The council had said they were interested in helping,” said Jawar. “But it seems like we are no longer a priority and have been moved to the bottom of the pile.
“There are three bowling greens in the borough but no grass cricket pitches.”
Tower Hamlets Cricket Club was formed in 2011 in a merger of Victoria Park and Island Gardens cricket teams. It turned senior in 2012 and came top of its league in the first season.
“Before we formed, all the good cricketers from the area went to play for Blackheath,” said Jawar. “There was no Middlesex league cricket team in the whole of Tower Hamlets.”
Since forming the team has used astro-turf youth and training facilities in Island Gardens and Victoria Park, but has had to play its home games in Hackney Marshes.
Now they fear they will lose the use of the marshes site, as Hackney sides London Muslims and Stoke Newington have entered the Middlesex league, and Jawar feels they will have more of a claim to the pitches.
Jawar said the club should be based within Tower Hamlets, and that Island Gardens or Victoria Park could provide good sites. He added the club had been offered a grant from the England Cricket Board of £50,000 to help towards any renovations, but there was a limited amount of time for them to make use of it.
“We just want the council to listen to us,” said Jawar. “They say it will be expensive, but we will raise the money and maintain the pitch ourselves.
“Middlesex are very keen to promote cricket in south Asian communities like Tower Hamlets, and we believe it will be good for the community.”
A Tower Hamlets Council spokeswoman said: “We have recently spent over £30,000 on new artificial cricket wickets in Victoria Park to improve facilities for cricketers.
“We have also looked carefully at the case for creating a grass wicket in Victoria Park. Unfortunately, the high costs of building and maintaining it, as well the impact it would have – limiting large areas of the park for other recreational purposes – means that it is just not affordable in the present economic climate.”