Inspirational coach and one of cricket’s first South Asian female umpires, Salma Bi, has been honoured for her services to cricket and diversity in sport in this year’s New Year’s Honours.
Salma is the first British Muslim woman to play county cricket for Worcestershire, and also represented Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). She launched a coaching organisation in 2012 called ‘Believe in Making A Difference [MAD]’ to give women and girls cricket and disability sports a greater platform.
In 2009, she received an award for ‘Outstanding Achievement’ at the British Asian Sports Awards and then followed up with the inaugural Sports Award at the 2012 Asian Women of Achievement Awards.
The 34-year-old, who was born in Pakistan, juggles umpiring with coaching, fundraising and working full-time as a Haemodialysis Nurse.
Twin brothers Mike and Dave Knight, 65, have also been awarded British Empire Medals for voluntary service to Newport Cricket Club in South Wales.
Stalwarts of the club for 40 years, they have helped it recover from being close to closure in the 1980s following the enforced sale of the club’s ground. They have built thriving youth and women’s and girls sections, and finally saw county cricket back in Newport for the first time in more than 50 years when Glamorgan played Gloucestershire at Spytty Park in 2019.
The England and Wales Cricket Board’s chief operating officer David Mahoney has also been awarded an MBE for his services to sport.
David, who also sits on the board of Sport England, was a key architect in the creation of the ECB’s five-year strategy Inspiring Generations and its South Asian Action Plan. He was also central in the response to Covid-19 this year as cricket led the way in the return of professional and recreational sport.
ECB chief executive officer Tom Harrison said:
"Salma really deserves this recognition for what she’s done for cricket and diversity in sport. She is a true inspiration who has brought cricket into the lives of so many women and girls. Volunteers give so much to our game, so it’s fantastic to see Mike and Dave Knight recognised for a lifetime of service to Newport Cricket Club as well.
"I’m absolutely delighted for David that he has got the recognition which he thoroughly deserves, particularly at the end of such a difficult year where his work was vital in getting cricket played again at all levels. He has made a huge contribution to cricket and the wider sports industry, and I’m thrilled for him.
"At the end of the toughest of years, Salma, David, Mike and Dave deserve our warmest congratulations."
Salma Bi said:
"It is a real honour to be recognised in the New Year’s honours list. I love this sport and I love the impact it has on people’s lives. It has been a difficult time for a lot of people, but with strength and perseverance, you can do whatever you set your mind to. I’d like to thank Gemma Smith of Sporting Pathway for her support and belief in me to help us reach our goals – to give women, girls and disabled people a chance in cricket."
Mike Knight said:
"It was a complete surprise but we’re very proud. It’s not something we set out to do, but we’ve had a good group of people at the club who’ve helped make it the success it is. When we look back at the hours of dedication and what the club has achieved it makes it all worthwhile."
David Mahoney said:
"This has been a really challenging year, but it’s emphasised just how important sport is in people’s lives both at the professional level and the grassroots. I believe passionately that sport is a force for good and am amazed and delighted by this honour.
"Getting through 2020 has been a real team effort across the sporting world, and as we enter 2021 we will be working hard together to ensure sport and physical activity is at the heart of the nation’s recovery from Covid-19."
This article has been updated to clarify that Salma was the first British Muslim woman to play county cricket for Worcestershire. The original version said she was the first to play county cricket. Dr Samara Afzal played county cricket for Warwickshire in 2005.