Wasim Khan, the chief executive of the Cricket Foundation and the first British-born Pakistani to play professional cricket in England, has received an MBE for services to cricket and the community in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
He developed the ‘Chance to Shine’ programme - based at Lord’s - aimed at giving children in state schools more opportunity to play cricket, and which has reached more than two million people since 2005.
Wasim, 42, who played for Warwickshire from 1992 to 2002, said: “My journey started when I was eight years old and I carved my first cricket bat from a plank of wood from my mum’s fence.
“I remember watching cricket on TV and thinking, ‘I really want to do that’ and my family around me telling me it wasn’t a credible profession to go for. But I was pretty determined and pretty committed.
“I was fortunate in that I got to 19 and I was offered a professional contract and I became the first British-born Pakistani to play professional cricket in this country, which was fantastic for myself and my family.
“But over the next two or three years, I still had my family asking me when I was going to get a proper job so that just proves how sport was viewed across a lot of Asian families in the 90s.”
In 2005 he received a surprise phone call from Sir Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England. The two launched a plan to counter the disparity between the opportunities children were given in state school compared with independent schools.
Wasim, pictured right, in 2000, added: “Sport can play a huge part in your life. For me it has always been a real passion but sport is more than just sport.
“The programme is going from strength to strength. For me to be sitting here today, the MBE is a wonderful achievement for myself, my family, friends and everybody who has contributed over the years. But more importantly, hopefully recognises the good work that a lot of people are doing.”