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Fox on the Box: Bowled over by girls who break down cricket’s boundaries

AT FIRST glance a documentary telling the story of the country’s first Asian all-girls’ cricket team as they prepare for one last tournament before going their separate ways may not have you scrambling for the remote.

But the BBC Three offering Bats, Balls and Bradford Girls (BBC iPlayer) delightfully proves just how wrong first impressions can be.

This is a tale of a determined group of young women from Carlton Bolling College in Bradford, who despite opposition from many in their community, decided to create their own cricket team. In four short years they won almost every tournament they entered. Indeed they just missed out on becoming national champions by a single run at Lord’s.

Narrated by star bowler Zainab we learn a little of each of these self-confessed ‘rebels’ and how cricket has given them opportunities to break away from the norm. ‘If I didn’t have cricket, I don’t think I’d have much opportunity to leave the house at all,’ she says.

The film sees them regrouping in the summer holidays after a break to sit their exams when ahead of taking their own paths to adulthood, they are aiming to go out with a bang in one final tournament at Headingley against three of the best girls’ teams in Yorkshire.

Despite at times uncomfortable tales of abuse and prejudice, the girls’ passion for their sport shines through and never more so then when their coach Hami organises a trip to Headingley to meet players from England and Pakistan ahead of last summer’s Test match, where a selfie with Jonny Bairstow and brief glimpse of England captain Joe Root brings a tear to the eye of one of the girls.

Parental restrictions and a change in attitudes and priorities make preparations for their big day anything but plain sailing and the finale, as many fine tales do, comes with something of a twist.

A film of passion and rebellion, Bats, Balls and Bradford Girls is an unexpected treat.