Hampshire Cricket welcomed around 200 people – including Hampshire and Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Abbas - to Iftar in Southampton last week, the first to be hosted by the club in its 160-year history.

Members of the local community were invited to St Mary’s Leisure Centre for Iftar, which is the fast-breaking evening meal during the month of Ramadan.

They were joined by Abbas, who is observing Ramadan, and local children and young people who take part in Hampshire Cricket and Lord’s Taverners’ successful Wicketz programme each week at the same venue.

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Earlier on the same day the club also unveiled its new LV= Insurance County Championship shirt. Hampshire Cricket has decided to donate its front-of-shirt sponsorship to Hampshire Cricket Foundation for this season.

The shirt, which will be worn by Abbas and his teammates throughout the 2023 season, will help promote the work being done by Hampshire Cricket Foundation, the club’s official charity.

Andover Advertiser: Pakistan and Hampshire bowler Mohammad Abbas pose for a photo at the Iftar organised by Hampshire CricketPakistan and Hampshire bowler Mohammad Abbas pose for a photo at the Iftar organised by Hampshire Cricket (Image: Hampshire Cricket / Dave Vokes Photograph)

Hampshire Cricket Foundation uses the power of cricket to help change lives across the county and supports a wide range of initiatives aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion within the sport.

These include Wicketz, which is aimed at children and young people who live in urban areas where participation in cricket is traditionally low. The innovative community project is delivered in partnership with Lord’s Taverners, it provides free, year-round weekly cricket sessions run by qualified coaches who also deliver regular workshops which help participants learn important life skills.

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Urban cricket development manager Sam Moss, who has been co-ordinating the Wicketz programme since 2018, said: "Cricket is thriving in the city and Wicketz has become a focal point for bringing communities together in Southampton.

“This event would not have been possible without the incredible support of our participants and their families and we are so grateful to everyone who has supported us this evening and over the last four years.

“We are committed to growing the sport across Hampshire and celebrate the positive impact it can have beyond the playing field. With new hubs opening in Portsmouth and Basingstoke, we hope to host many more events to celebrate communities across the county.”