New Surrey head coach Vikram Solanki is surprised that it has taken so long for a British-Asian to be given a chance as a head coach in county cricket.
The India-born, Wolverhampton-educated ex-England one-day international made history when appointed on 12 June.
He had seemed likely to work in cricket administration – but Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart pointed him towards his new role.
“I couldn’t tell you why it’s taken so long,” said Solanki, 44.
“There are some brilliant coaches. I do know that. The likes of Min Patel [the former Kent spinner, now their ‘head of talent pathway’].
“There’s [former Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Leicestershire fast bowler] Ajmal Shahzad as well, who is with the MCC as head coach.
“But, as far as the counties are concerned, I can’t offer you an opinion strictly on why my position is the first British-Asian as a head coach.”
How Solanki got into coaching
Solanki, a stylish batsman for more than two decades with both Worcestershire and Surrey, became heavily involved with the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) before his playing career coming to an end in 2015.
He briefly became PCA chief executive and was also linked with a return to Worcester in that same role.
But, instead, he became part of the Surrey backroom staff under Stewart and head coach Michael di Venuto.
He also took on temporary roles as assistant coach to Gary Kirsten and India captain Virat Kohli with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League and with his former Worcestershire team-mate and coach Tom Moody in Dubai’s T10 competition.
Solanki became Surrey head coach following Di Venuto’s decision in May to stop on in his native Tasmania, even if the 2020 season – delayed by the coronavirus pandemic – does at some point start.
“Taking steps to prepare yourself for life after a cricket career at first involved the PCA,” said Solanki. “That might have led me down the road of administration. It was a brilliant experience.”
But now he believes his standing in the game and his wide range of experience can act as an inspiration to help open up opportunities for others.
“We [Surrey] have encouraged people from different backgrounds,” he said. “I played with players from all backgrounds. I suppose I should temper that by saying I appreciate that might not be the experience for everyone else.
“Society and all walks of life should reflect the sort of demographic that is present in England. If that can be the case in cricket, then that’s great.”