Tapeball League finals prove a hit at The Kia Oval - Kia Oval Skip to main content

The Kia Oval recently hosted the showdown of Surrey Cricket Foundation’s (SCF) Tapeball League, run in partnership with Chance to Shine, as the four finalists fought it out to secure their ticket to represent south London in the ECB’s national finals next month.

Tapeball cricket is an energetic, fast-paced format of indoor cricket which is played with a tapeball – a tennis ball wrapped in electrical tape – and carbon fibre bats (used carbon fibre bats – might be worth changing). With six players per side and eight or ten overs in a shortened innings, several games of competitive cricket were played during each session of the league. The sessions were free of charge and aimed to create access to the game for young people in urban areas.

After eight thrilling rounds, HA Lions, Kingstonian Kingsmen, Kingstonian Kites, and PSD qualified for the semi-finals, with the Lions – who were greatly impressive with their all-round cricketing skills – emerging victorious on an evening filled with fun.

Ali Chaudhry, the captain of HA Lions, remarks that his side entered the competition with the “mindset to win”, and they are preparing to take the same attitude to Park Avenue Bradford Dome, a specialised facility for indoor cricket, which will be hosting the national finals.

“It’s hard work and teamwork together,” Ali elaborates on his team’s mantra for success. “You just have to understand your teammates, understand your responsibilities, and put everything into the match.”

The ECB’s national finals, which are a part of their Core Cities programme – an initiative to engage diverse communities in cricket in urban environments across the country, will see men’s and women’s teams from across the country meet up north in April. For the finals, under the single umbrella of ‘South London Capitals’, Ali’s HA Lions will be joined by a women’s team, comprising the best indoor cricketers playing in SCF’s university cricket programme. Players from four universities across London – King’s College, Imperial College, London School of Economics, and University College London – receive weekly coaching from the Foundation and have been competing in an ongoing Sunday league throughout the winter.

Tapeball cricket has been an important vehicle for increasing cricket’s accessibility in the county and across the country. As it does not require players to wear protective gear or uniform kit and is not reliant on the weather, this format has been enabling more and more people to enjoy cricket.

“Tapeball cricket makes us happy! We are all from Pakistan and we played tapeball cricket since we started walking… since like we started to understand cricket,” says Ali. He adds that, unlike indoor cricket, opportunities to play hardball cricket are fewer in his locality and they need to go to “big cities to play hardball cricket.”

SCCC Some of the rules of tapeball cricket, such as disallowing LBW as a mode of dismissal or having the last batter standing, are also inclined towards making it more fun and easier to participate in.

Implementing innovative rules takes away neither the essence of short-format cricket nor its competitive edge, though. “You have to bowl like you do in hardball cricket and bat the same way… like how you hit sixes in the Hundred or T10 leagues. You just have to smash everything,” opines Ali, “It is the same amount of fun and very competitive cricket.”

Elliott Rousen, Inclusion and Diversity Officer at SCF, says: “The response to our tapeball league has been full of enthusiasm and excitement. The level of the competition in the league was terrific as was the cricketing talent on display.

“Tapeball cricket is a dynamic format that is opening the doors of the sport to many people across Surrey and south London. We have had a lot of fun working with the teams in organising this league and hope to see the South London Capitals lift the title up north!”

“The whole experience was brilliant, and the staff and coaches were very nice and friendly there!” Ali adds.