ACC chief lauds Games stadium

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am

Asian cricket chief Syed Ashraful Huq is kicking himself that he did not have 'sixes' on his mind when the Chinese asked him how many teams would be playing every day when cricket makes it debut at the Asian Games this month.

'I said four [for there will be two Twenty20 matches a day] and they went and built four dressing rooms at this ultra-modern cricket stadium in Guangzhou. I wonder what would have happened if I had said six,' smiled Huq as he highlighted the efficiency of the games organisers.

Built at a cost of US$9 million, the cricket-specific stadium at the Guangdong University of Technology is a modern marvel, says the Asian Cricket Council chief executive, who is in town for the Hong Kong Sixes.

Huq praised the Chinese organisers for building a world-class cricket facility, one which he said would be on par with any other stadium. Ten men's teams, including test nations Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and nine women's teams will vie for gold medals at the Games later this month. Hong Kong will send both a men's and a women's team.

'The stadium, which can seat 12,000 fans - although only 8,000 will be available for the Asian Games - has been built with the advice of consultants from Australia and New Zealand.

'The New Zealand Sports Institute helped put in seven high-quality turf wickets and have provided all the expertise. The drainage system is probably the best in the world. And as for security, there are 250 closed-circuit cameras. You won't even be able to go to the toilet without someone watching you,' Huq said.

To make the ground a globally certified stadium, the International Cricket Council will send match referee and former Indian fast bowler Javagal Srinath to the Asian Games.

'Once he is happy and gives his approval, the stadium will be certified to host one-day internationals, Twenty20 internationals and even test matches,' Huq said.

The Twenty20 matches at the Asian Games will not be counted as official ICC games.

Huq also said tickets were selling like hotcakes. Within hours of going on sale, all tickets for the first two days - November 13 and 14, along with November 21 - were sold out.

The first weekend features women's matches with China and Hong Kong, while the second weekend marks the start of the men's tournament, where India have controversially decided to stay away. 'It looks like there is a lot of interest among the locals for cricket, which is still a novelty. There are 40,000 students in Guangdong University alone, and if a quarter of them decide to turn up it will be a full house,' Huq said.