India essential to credibility of Asian Games
India's presence at the Asian Games is essential to make the tournament 'meaningful', Asian Cricket Council chief executive Syed Ashraful Huq says.
The ACC head, one of many top overseas cricketing dignitaries and personalities feted by the Sixes this year, was confident that the Board of Control for Cricket in India would send a team for the next edition of the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, in 2014.
India refused to send a team for the Twenty20 medal competition at last year's Asian Games in Guangzhou. They were the only test-playing nation from Asia who didn't turn up as cricket made its debut at the event.
'I'm quietly confident that India will be represented by a team in 2014. They are the most powerful force in Asia and for the Asian Games to be meaningful, we need to have India playing,' Huq said.
He also revealed that the Incheon Games would have an expanded cricket programme, with more teams and be held over a longer duration.
'The South Korean authorities have already agreed to starting the cricket tournament a few days before the Games open, bringing it on par with sports like soccer,' Huq said. 'We could also see more teams in both the men's and women's competitions.'
Bangladesh won the gold medal in the eight-team men's competition in Guangzhou while the women's competition, comprising 10 teams, was won by Pakistan. Hong Kong sent teams to both competitions.
The only cloud on the horizon for the ACC chief was that Incheon Games organisers had not started work on the cricket ground.
'It is a bit disappointing that they have not yet identified the venue where the matches will be played and started work on building a ground. Yes, the Games are still three years away, but we need the ground ready at least 18 months before so that the pitches can be laid and we can play a few practice matches,' Huq said.
'The problem in South Korea is that they have never seen the game, or played it before. It was the same in China, but China has a passion for sport, and as hosts of the Asian Games, they wanted it to be the best and built such a beautiful stadium.'