The inaugural National Core Cities Tape Ball Competition took place at Bradford Park Avenue last week, with a special guest appearance from one of the city’s greatest ever sportsmen, Adil Rashid.

And the man who helped England to 50-over World Cup glory in 2019 and a T20 World Cup triumph in 2022 witnessed a wonderful event, with Kirklees Hawks taking the men’s title on (almost) home soil and Slough Superstars claiming the women’s crown.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club caught up with Sohail Raz, Diverse Communities Manager for Yorkshire Cricket Foundation (YCF), who helped support the collaboration event at Park Avenue.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Kirklees Hawks did not have to travel too far to win the men's title.The Kirklees Hawks did not have to travel too far to win the men's title. (Image: Yorkshire Cricket Foundation.)

A delighted Raz enthused: “Tape Ball is exciting and accessible.

“You just need a bat, a ball, tape and away you go. You also don’t need protective equipment– like helmets, pads, and gloves – so it also removes that cost barrier. 

“Yorkshire Cricket was delighted to be part of the first National Core Cities Tape Ball Competition and host two separate Champion Trophy events – one for men and one for women – at Park Avenue Bradford.

“Park Avenue provided a fantastic facility to welcome teams from each of the Core Cities – Birmingham, Bradford, Kirklees, Leeds, Leicester, London, (Essex and Surrey), Luton, Manchester, Sandwell, and Slough. 

“It was another exciting moment for both Park Avenue Bradford and our surrounding communities.

“There is nowhere like this venue in the UK. It was brilliant to see the state-of-the-art, 10-bay all-weather cricket dome, being put to full use over the two days.

“Since this facility opened the popularity has been through the roof, and with the ability to facilitate training and activities in all-weather and throughout the year, the opening of the dome has made a huge impact.”

As for last week’s event itself, Raz said: “The two days were real festivals of Tape Ball cricket, filled with incredible competitions.

“We had eight players per side, facing 20 balls each – so four lots of five ball overs. This made it thrilling and fast paced. There were lots of fours and sixes.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A Luton Challengers bowler launches into an appeal for a wicket at the event.A Luton Challengers bowler launches into an appeal for a wicket at the event. (Image: Yorkshire Cricket Foundation.)

“The events were a lot more than playing cricket though, as alongside we had lots of entertainment including a DJ, Dhol Drummers, fantastic food, team walk-out music and everything was live streamed.

“We provided designated places for prayer for those that wanted it. It really was a weekend filled with brilliant moments, laughter, music, tasty food, and great memories.”

Raz added: “There was a special guest appearance too from Adil Rashid – the England, Yorkshire, and Northern Superchargers star – along with The Hundred trophy.  

“With Adil being from Bradford it was extra special and an incredible memory for the community.

“To have an international star and two-time World Cup winner supporting the event was an unforgettable memory for everyone and an experience that the community will cherish for a long time. 

“He was fantastic, he spoke to so many people, signed autographs and was in hundreds of photos. He also took time out and shared knowledge with the players and talked about his own experiences.”

Praising those involved, Raz said: “The winner of the men’s Tape Ball Champions Trophy was Kirklees Hawks and Slough Superstars took home the trophy for the women.

“These two competitions highlighted men and women’s teams and it was great because it really showed the big growth of the women’s game.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Slough Superstars came out on top in a brilliant women's competition.Slough Superstars came out on top in a brilliant women's competition. (Image: Yorkshire Cricket Foundation.)

“It was amazing to see so many women come together to empower and inspire each other and it them the opportunity and the accessibility to take part in a national competition.

“We had a lot of young people and families watching the matches too and I hope they went away inspired and wanting to play the game.”

Finally, speaking more generally, Raz said: “Cricket is for everyone – whatever your gender, background, race, religion – it doesn’t matter.

“Tape Ball is a great example of how cricket can be inclusive for everyone, as it allows you to express yourself and have fun, as well as getting all the health and wellbeing benefits you get from taking part in sport.  

“For the future I’m excited to see Tape Ball continue to grow across the UK.

“Everybody does fantastic work across the Core Cities programme and in Yorkshire we’re committed to playing our part in supporting those in diverse communities, helping break down barriers and drive grassroots participation.”