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Leicester Cricket star Shiv Thakor, 18, on why he owes everything to his Family

BRITISH Asian families are often accused of failing to encourage their children to pursue sporting talent, but for the Thakor family it’s quite the opposite – for son and cricket star Shiv says he owes everything to his dedicated family.

Leicester-born Shiv is fast becoming a name for the future, and he tells The Asian Today he’s indebted to the sacrifices made by his family which have allowed him to become one of the country’s hottest cricketing prospects.

The 18-year-old signed a three-year contract with Leicestershire County Cricket Club last year, with the club eager to snap up the talented teen after seeing him write his name into the clubs record books.

Having joined the clubs youth set-up at the tender age of six, Shiv wasted no time in proving just why his family showed so much faith in him.

He became the youngest every centurion for Leicestershire in age-group cricket after making a brilliant hundred for the Under 9 side against Surrey.

He went on to captain the clubs Under-17s to a league and cup double in 2009, as well as representing England at Under-15s and Under-17s level.

Stand-out performances saw the club offer him a three-year contract in November last year – and Shiv celebrated in style, hitting another century on his first-class debut for the club – the first player at Grace Road to do so.

Shiv admits his rise up the cricketing ladder is down to the support he’s received from his loving family.

 “I am in debt to my family to this day and forever more, without their support I would be nowhere today,” Shiv tells The Asian Today.

“They have sacrificed their lives in order for me to succeed. I couldn’t have asked or wished for a better family that above all are friends.”

For Shiv a love for cricket began at an early age. He recalls playing in the lounge of his family home, adding it was “at the expense of some items of furniture and displays”!

But the 18-year-old didn’t just come by a cricket bat and ball by chance. His father, Jaysinh, was an avid cricket fan who also played for Leicestershire CCC.

“My father has always loved cricket and played from a young age firstly in India and then in England after his family made the move,” Shiv reveals.

“He represented Leicestershire CCC Youth age groups and played a very good standard of club cricket but due to unfortunate circumstances he was unable to fulfil his dreams and ambitions. I was introduced to the sport by my father who was, and still is, an avid cricket fan. I look up to my father and he is definitely a role model for me so from a young age I wanted to emulate him.”

While dad Jaysinh’s cricketing career was unfortunately cut short, Shiv says he is determined to fulfil his father’s dreams and ambitions.

And his record-breaking early years in the game were proof of his commitment not only to the sport but to his father.

“Looking back there have been some very proud moments but they would never have come about had it not been for the hard work and continuous support of the family,” Shiv says.

“Scoring a century on my first-team debut was an immensely proud moment and possibly the greatest moment of my life thus far and being able to share it with my father watching me made it even more special. It is an absolute honour and privilege to hold this record, it was an amazing day.”

That century came after Shiv signed a three-year contract with Leicestershire –a moment which will long live in the memory of the 18-year-old.

“It was a true delight to receive the three-year contract at Leicestershire CCC; it was something I had worked towards for the best part of 12 years,” Shiv says.

“It was a very proud moment and it was nice that my hard work and achievements so far had been recognised.”

Off the pitch Shiv is equally committed to his education.

Currently in his final year studying A-Levels in Philosophy, Economics and P.E at Uppingham School, Shiv admits the demands both on and off the pitch can be tricky.

“The balancing act between the demands of cricket and my education has always been difficult,” he says.

“I give 100% to both areas and it’s important to balance the time I dedicate to playing cricket alongside my life at a full time boarding school. The workloads are extremely difficult to cope with but I do enjoy the challenge and aspect of the balancing act and try to achieve as highly as possible in both fields.”

Shiv is already planning his future should a career in cricket not pan out. He plans to go to University whilst continuing to play professional cricket – a move he believes will help him become a “better rounded individual”.

“Going to University is important for me”, Shiv says, “because it can open doors to various career paths depending on how cricket works out for me.”

For the time being Shiv is thinking of a future involving cricket.

His rise as a cricketer has led to achievements off the pitch. He was honoured with the Telesky Shopping Young Sports Personality of the Year (Male Under-18) Award by the British Asian Sports Awards at the start of the year.

And recently he met Prime Minister David Cameron at a special Diwali Reception.

Shiv reveals: “The chance to meet the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street was an absolute honour and a true privilege, and an extremely proud moment for the family and I. The evening was a fantastic experience and one that will remain with me for years to come.”

As 2011 draws to an end, the future is looking rosy for Shiv. He’s committed as ever to becoming not only one of the best for Leicestershire, but also for England.

“I was born in Leicester and I have been part of the club since I was six-years-old and I would love to push on now and make a mark at Grace Road. Hopefully one day I will also go on to play for England. I know that dream is a long way away and a lot of hard work remains but I will do everything I can to make that dream come true.”

With his goals in sight, is there anyone brave enough to bet against him?

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