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MCC play Tower Hamlets CC

MCC played their inaugural fixture against a Tower Hamlets District Schools Cricket Association team captained by MCC Young Cricketer Dipayan Paul.

With the poor summer still lingering at Blackheath Cricket Club on Wednesday 18 July, the match failed to reach a conclusion, with the home team stranded on 70/5 in reply to MCC's 170/8 in a declaration match.

Despite the absence of a result, the fixture against MCC was a timely opportunity for the Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation to look back at the success of their cricket programme, which is in its fifth year.

Watch: MCC in Tower Hamlets

The scheme in its entirety is now seven years into its life - and as Foundation Manager Chris Willetts explained to Lord's TV, cricket has played a huge part in bringing sport to a community which is around 60% Bangladeshi.

"We noticed very quickly that there was a big interest in cricket," he said.

"And the timing of our programme came around the time when Bangladesh were emerging as a Test playing nation. It was very clear that there was a lot of talent and interest, and it became apparent we needed to start something to harness that talent."

Since then, cricket has been introduced to all 82 schools in the area, with each school taking part in a Tower Hamlets competition. Cricket is played all year round; indoor and outdoor.

The team taking on MCC emerged as part of the foundation's drive to push the more talented players into a higher level of cricket. And it has proven a success, with more than 50 representing ECB Premier League clubs and Paul earning a professional contract with MCC's Young Cricketers programme.

And this year's inaugural MCC fixture, managed by MCC's Players and Fixtures sub-committee Chairman Steve Livermore and featuring a spell of 2-10 in three overs from the Club's President Phillip Hodson, has been of benefit to the youngsters, according to Willetts.

"I can't underestimate how important it is for our boys to play in fixtures like this," he added.

"As well as the cricket, some of the social aspects are important for them to experience is a really important skill set for them to pick up for higher levels of cricket and for getting jobs in the future."

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