The Asian Today Interviews The Man Named New CEO of Leicester CCC
Leicestershire have announced Wasim Khan will become their new chief executive officer. The beleaguered county side, who have not won an LV= County Championship match in two seasons, will hope Wasim can bring the success he has enjoyed on and off the field with him to Grace Road when he takes up his post in January. In his various cricket administration roles, the 43-year-old has been heavily involved in working with the local community and Leicestershire will be keen for that to continue, particularly in the region’s Asian community, in order to boost interest in the club. The Asian Today caught up with the ex-cricketer.
Firstly, congratulations. How does it feel to be appointed as Chief Executive to Leicester CCC?
It is a tremendous honour to be appointed as chief executive officer of Leicestershire County Cricket Club. I am really looking forward to working with all of the staff and the board because I know there are terrific people at Grace Road. It is an exciting opportunity for me. I remember playing at Grace Road in the past and the club has always been extremely well supported by its members and supporters. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in cricket as a player and it has been fantastic to continue working within the game I love.
You have a mountain to climb in trying to turn the fortunes of the club around, what’s the first step?
The biggest thing is we have to bring a little energy to the place. What I have realised already with the club is that there are some really good people who are really passionate. That is a fantastic start to have. What they have been lacking in the past is strategic direction and real energy. There is no formula to those things. I have to make sure people are doing the right jobs and are using their skill sets and that there is a clear vision for everyone.
You are the first British Asian to be appointed, how does that make you feel?
I am very proud of that fact. I think it can get over-played a bit too much because everyone who gets into positions of authority are there on merit. I want to be someone who was the best person for the job. I was the first British-born Pakistani to play professional cricket for England and now I have become very fortunate to become the first south-Asian chief executive across country cricket clubs. Looking across all sports, there are no Black or Ethnic Minority figures in a chief-executive role.
How do you intend to utilise your platform to make sure we are encouraging south-Asian youngsters?
I would say to any young south-Asian wanting to get into top level cricket – read my story. I have not come from a privileged background. Growing up, everyone kept telling me that I could never become a professional cricketer because it is not for people like us. I grew up in Small Heath, surrounded by people telling me cricket is not a career and that there are no opportunities for non-white players. I didn’t settle for that. I thought I’m going to do it by playing the best I can. This country, more so than any other country, gives you the opportunity to succeed. Play the game. Understand the environment and adapt to that environment. It’s easy to blame race when things don’t go to plan.
How do you put that change on a grassroots level?
A big part of my role at Leicestershire is to engage the south-Asian community. I’ve always been a believer that cricket as a sport is very good at saying to Asians, ‘give us your money, but we don’t want you anywhere near our cricket club.’ We have to try and create an emotional connection with people – the club and that area. I want to find out what Leicestershire has done wrong when it comes to engaging the public and the club, what the opportunities they have that they don’t get and why they are not getting involved from a business side. This is why I always say to the south-Asian community, get yourselves in a position of authority and create change. I want to see south-Asian youngsters come through the ranks at Leicester and feel like they are getting that opportunity.