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A plan to bowl over a nation

Updated: 2013-12-26 08:17
By Tym Glaser ( China Daily)

A plan to bowl over a nation

Embedding the game of cricket into the Chinese sporting culture or psyche will never be an easy task.

It has no cultural background - outside of Hong Kong - in China; there are only a few venues where the game can be properly played and those matches and/or leagues are primarily populated by expats from places like England, Australia, India and Pakistan who are mainly passing through. So while the competitions, particularly in Beijing and Shanghai, are relatively strong, they are by no means stable.

The Chinese Cricket Association is trying gamely to promote the sport with a limited budget and has implemented programs at about 70 schools, but that is a mere blade of grass on the Chinese sporting landscape.

Rashid Khan, may or may not be a fine coach, but his primary task is with the national team and not at the youth level from which the game can only grow.

An apparent lack of interest from the International Cricket Council in promoting the game here, coupled with virtually no funds from the government, see the game in a perpetual state of stagnation.

I would rather face a couple of overs of Mitchell Johnson bouncers than plan the way forward for cricket here, but, what the heck, I'll give it a crack.

Firstly, the CCA should approach the organizations in Beijing and Shanghai and come up with a combined plan to get more Chinese players involved.

The simplest way would be to insinuate a Chinese team into the various leagues, but that is not the most feasible. A better idea would be to assign one or two local players to each side. This would allow the Chinese to get a completely different perspective of the game.

Secondly, the CCA, funds allowing, should enhance its junior program by hiring mid-tier level coaches or PE teachers from places like England, Australia and South Africa to get the ball rolling at that level and also look to, say, Cricket Australia, to supply bats, balls and gear.

Thirdly, a CCA hour-long cricket program on TV each week would be a small but significant step forward in promoting the sport.

Finally, the biggest annual cricket event on the Chinese calendar is the Beijing Sixes held at Dulwich College. Cricket tragic Matt Smith has brought his Shenyang Sunbirds to the past two Sixes and they have performed creditably if not overly successfully against teams from the host city, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, among others.

To a man, the Sunbirds rave about the experience, both on and off the field. Wouldn't that be the ideal place for a young CCA team to cut its teeth?

Well, having written all that, Mitch, wherefore art thou?

Tym Glaser is a senior sports copy editor who once faced great pace bowler Courtney Walsh. He doesn't often let on Walsh was bowling leg spin at the time. He can be contacted at tymglaser@chinadaily,

(China Daily 12/26/2013 page23)