Recently the England and Wales Cricket Board announced that Professor Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, a leading voice on health, social care and community cohesion, is to join its 14-strong Board of Directors as an independent member. Professor Lord Patel, who currently sits in the House of Lords as a Labour Peer, formerly worked for the Yorkshire Cricket Academy as a part-time coach and has had a lifelong involvement with the recreational game via local leagues in his native Bradford. Last year he served on the judging panel of the inaugural Asian Cricket Awards supported by the ECB.

A former ambulance-man, special constable and social worker, Lord Patel has retained a keen interest in cricket while becoming one of the country’s most influential and authoritative spokesmen on issues pertaining health, social care and equality and human rights. He succeeds Lord Morris of Handsworth who is stepping down from the Board after eleven years as an ECB Director.

I was curious to ask Lord Patel his future with this role. He said that he was incredibly blessed and privileged to be given the honour and that his goal was to ensure that he encouraged more diverse participation in the sport, including from women.

Being Asian I grew up seeing my relatives jump up and down whenever cricket was on. They would literally pray to God for the success of their team and this is a longstanding tradition in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The same can be said about cricket in the UK.

However even in today’s day and age there are very few British Asian men on the English cricket team. I was curious to know what Lord Patel had to say on the subject. He stated that sport was popular across the globe and cricket was a sport that would not die out.

He said that as a young man he loved to play cricket and as he moved to the UK when he was quite young, his mother was unaware that she had to register him at school, so he didn’t even attend school until he was seven. But even as a late bloomer that did not stop him from completing his academics and then going on to work in countless professions, an Ambulance-man, a social worker, a barman and now he sits in the House of Lords.

We had lots of callers wanting to know how cricket could be developed further with one wanting to know how his local team in Holland (even though it does not come under the ECB) could gain more recognition. Lord Patel suggested they integrate with other teams as that would be the key to their success and popularity. Another caller from Wales wanted to know how cricket could be developed further there, as the general consensus was that people who reside in Wales and have a passion for the sport feel neglected in relation to some of the benefits that those who reside in England receive.

Lord Patel took all of the points raised on board and assured the viewers that he would present them to the board in his research on the subject. It was a genuine pleasure to speak to such a humble and genuinely passionate man, after hearing about his journey and getting to know Lord Patel a bit more, his phrase of “If you aim for the moon, you may not get there but you’ll certainly be a lot better off than where you are now,” will always stay in my mind.