Azaad Cricket Club was formed to play cricket in the eighties against like-minded friends in different towns and cities, some as far as London. The founders of the club were Mohammed Mahboob, Mohammed Maqsud and Mohammed Ayoub.
The club’s ground was and still is on the outskirts of Wakefield and formerly known as the Empire Store Field. In subsequent years improvements were made and it is now known as the Gaskell Sports Pavilion ground.
As the club became stronger, a decision was made in 1986 to join the Wakefield District Union League to play Sunday cricket, later switching to Saturdays. The club won championships and also the Wakefield Cup in the following decade. When the league folded in the late nineties Azaad joined the Huddersfield Central League.
They had a very fruitful existence in the Huddersfield Central League, forever challenging for the big prizes. Starting well down the divisions they were obviously a class apart from their early placements.
In 2002, they won Section C- effectively the fourth level of the Huddersfield Central League. Their stay in Section B was two years, but after winning it in 2004; they then took the Section A title in 2005 to reach the Premier League.
They consolidated into a very competitive Premier League side winning the senior `Friend Alsop Cup’ in 2006, 2008, 2011, and then the holy grail of the Premier League title in 2012. They also showed their prowess in 20/20 cricket by winning this league tournament in 2008.
One of the most influential players was N Hussain who took the G Brook Trophy (Most League Wickets) in 2008 and 2011. He also took the man of match award in the 2006 `Friend Alsop Cup Final.’
The cricket club’s infrastructure was growing with their second team replicating the first team’s successes, particularly in the cup in which they won five times in eight seasons.
This led to more ambitious thinking and in 2012 the decision was made to apply to join Central Yorkshire League and was duly accepted for the 2013 season.
Azaad was placed in Division 2 for 2013- effectively the third bracket of the league, and they took it by storm with 17 victories from twenty-two matches. It was a personal triumph for Hanif Mahboob who captained the side, and won the League Batting Averages with 737 runs at 56.69.
However, it was no one-man show as Imran Mahboob took the League All-Rounders Trophy scoring 489 runs, and also taking 26 wickets.
The cutting edge of the bowling was from Razah Hussain who completed a full set of individual awards for Azaad with the league bowling trophy after a haul of 62 wickets at the small cost of 7.77.
Another good season in 2014 marked further progress for Azaad who had ten league wins in the higher division. Hanif Mahboob was again the batting star finishing second in the league averages with 429 runs at 39..00
However, it was Azaad’s Mohamed Zubair Badat who recorded the highest score in the division with 124 not out against Gildersome.
Shokat Iqbal had a good season winning the league wicket-keeping award and also scoring 283 vital runs for his side. Imran Mahboob could not replicate the heights of the previous year but did score 396 runs.
An elevation to the 1st Division Championship in 2015- the second bracket of the league, saw Azaad win seven matches and lose seven. This represented a healthy consolidation in a division of established clubs, with Azaad in fifth place out of eight clubs, just one point behind third place in a tight division.
The two players who raised their game in the higher standard were Imran Mahboob who scored 637 runs at 39.81, and Syed Shah Bukhari who was the leading bowler with 34 wickets.
Azaad CC would move leagues for the third time in four years when the Central Yorkshire League was absorbed into the Bradford Premier League for 2016, taking their place in the Conference.
Azaad had an indifferent season in the Conference League with difficulties in getting their home games on in wet weather, and weak performances on the field that left them in 10th place.
Imran Mahboob was their outstanding player scoring 559 runs at 39.93. However, the bowling was ineffective with their best bowler, Waheem Ahmed, only taking 24 wickets.