Warwickshire have reiterated their inclusive policy towards the Asian community by offering-financial incentives to help sustain a prominent coaching scheme.
Responding to a report in yesterday's Birmingham Post, Warwickshire chief executive Dennis Amiss announced the club's decision to allow From Streets to Arena, a coaching initiative aimed at encouraging disenfranchised Asian youths into mainstream cricket, to continue to use the indoor school at Edgbaston at a preferential rate.
The From Streets to Arena scheme, set up and run by Munir Ali, will be offered a five-year deal on a rate well below market value. They will, as a result, be able to continue their Sunday net sessions at Edgbaston's indoor school, encouraging into cricket's mainstream youngsters whom might otherwise slip through the net,
Essentially, Warwickshire have decided to forgo the full financial benefits of hiring their indoor centre in order to provide extra encouragement to the Asian community that currently feels - rightly or wrongly - that their county club does not fully embrace them.
The club's decision will also do no harm when it comes to negotiating new deals with Naqaash Tahir and Moeen Ali, both of whom emerged through the scheme and are out of contract at the end of the coming season.
"We hadn't reviewed our prices in the cricket centre since 2001 and that was something we had to look at," Amiss said. "We decided to have a look at our prices and we informed Mr Ali that we may consider upping them.
"He wanted a five-year year deal in the indoor school at a rate well below market value. That had to be considered carefully and, now that we have discussed the issue at length, we have decided to support Mr Ali's scheme on the basis of his proposals.
"Streets to Arena is a very good scheme. It does lots of things for cricket in the community. It encourages cricket in inner-city, disadvantaged communities and it helps us identify talented players for the future. We want it here."
Tim Munton, chairman of the club's cricket committee, underlined the club's commitment to the scheme. "The cricket committee unanimously supports the aims of Streets to Arena and we have accepted Munir Ali's proposals," he said.
Amiss accepts that there is still a perception that Warwickshire is not as inclusive as it might be, but he remains positive about the future.
"We're moving forward," he says. "These things don't happen overnight. Things have improved over the years and will continue to improve."
"This is very good news," Munir Ali told The Post last night. "Although I've not heard anything from the club yet, I'll be delighted if I'm able to continue working closely with Warwickshire.
"This is good for Warwickshire and good for the Asian community in Birmingham. I look forward to working closely with the club. I'm sure that Warwickshire will benefit in the long term and I'm very grateful for their support."
Ashley Giles will miss Warwickshire's opening match of the season against the MCC and will not be allowed to play in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy as England announced restrictions on contracted players' participation with their respective counties.
Captain Michael Vaughan has been granted a month off while Steve Harmison, Andrew Strauss, Marcus Trescothick and Graham Thorpe, like Giles, will focus on Championship cricket.
Fast bowlers James Anderson and Simon Jones have not had any restrictions placed upon them.