Dubai, Nov.11 : Leading international cricketers from England, West Indies and Pakistan have helped launch ICC Diversity Day 2008.
ICC Diversity Day, which was held for the first time last year during the ICC World Twenty20 2007, will take place on 20 November 2008 to coincide with a busy programme of fixtures in the international cricket calendar. The day, which is set to become an annual feature in the cricket calendar, will see a variety of activities around the world that celebrate the diversity of the sport.
To launch the day, England's Alastair Cook and Tim Ambrose visited the Gandhi Museum in Mumbai, while players from the Pakistan and the West Indies team went on a desert safari in the United Arab Emirates ahead of the three-match ODI series which begins on 12 November in Abu Dhabi. The visits were designed to illustrate the diversity in culture experienced by the international cricket community while on tour.
"Cricket is a truly diverse and global sport, played by people regardless of their age, gender, cultural background or ability," said ICC Chief Executive Haroon Lorgat.
"We want to use ICC Diversity Day to celebrate cricket as a sport played all over the world by people from very diverse backgrounds and that the game can build bridges between continents, countries and communities.
"As a South African, I have seen how cricket has contributed to unifying people from different backgrounds and I hope through initiatives like ICC Diversity Day we can have a positive impact across the world," said Mr Lorgat.
England opening batsman Cook believes that cricket provides opportunities for players and spectators to experience new cultures that they never would have had a chance to sample were it not for a love of the sport.
"In my first few years of international cricket I have already been lucky enough to travel to places that most people of my age would never even dream of visiting," said Cook (23).
"Although we have lots of playing commitments when we are on tour, I always try and take the opportunity to go and visit a local site of interest. It was a great experience to go to the Gandhi Museum and learn about India's history and I am sure that plenty of England fans will try and visit the museum when they are here for the Test Match in December," he said.
"It is amazing that wherever we go in the world the England supporters follow us to support the team, enjoy watching cricket with fans from all over the world, and visit countries such as India, Sri Lanka and West Indies.
"It's a great thing to see all the fans from different countries mixing so well together - as players it is always nice to go into the opposition dressing room at the end of the game and share a drink with people from all parts of the world and it is great that there is so much camaraderie in the stands as well."
Ahead of the ODI series against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan's Salman Butt and Misbah ul Haq, along with Ramnaresh Sarwan and Daren Powell, experienced the delights of Middle East heritage as they got a glimpse of life in an Arabian desert.
"When you go and play cricket in different countries, it is important to experience the diversity of culture in different cities across the globe. It was great fun to travel into the desert and ride on a camel," said Salman.