China a priority for world cricket with ICC officials set to map out major development programmes
Hong Kong can play a role in helping to grow the game in the mainland with Olympic Gamess inclusion key to its success
The International Cricket Council has made the development of cricket in China a priority, with possible Olympic inclusion crucial to the future of the sport in the mainland.
Cricket Hong Kong chairman John Cribbin recently returned from an International Cricket Council (ICC) meeting in which the governing body’s regional development manager Aminul Islam highlighted the need to focus more on growing the game in China.
“The ICC development manager has just been on a fact-finding mission in China and has introduced a report on the state or play and prospects for the future,” said Cribbin.
“This has been well received by the ICC and while so far there are no real facts and figures, the ICC, in association with the Asian Cricket Council and full members in Asia, are determined that China is a priority for development.”
Islam is due to expand on his findings at an ICC meeting in June when the body is expected to begin outlining its plans to popularise the sport in China.
There are around 85,000 registered cricketers in China and the national team have been active for more than a decade. However, their men’s team have struggled and last month suffered a 390-defeat by Saudi Arabia in an ICC World Cricket League regional match in Thailand, having been bowled out for record-low 28.
Cribbin said the Olympics is key to ensuring the Chinese government pays more attention to the development of cricket.
“I’ve said for a number of years when addressing this subject that, the major thing for the sport to succeed in China is Olympic participation and I think that still remains the case,” said Cribbin.
“The Olympic is really the key to unlocking interest in cricket in China.”
Cribbin said all ICC members barring India are keen to make a case for cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics using the T20 format.
Olympic sports are given extra funding and resources by the Chinese government and opens the door for sponsors. Rugby sevens’ inclusion as an Olympic sport has already resulted in Alisports, a unit of China’s Alibaba Group – which owns the South China Morning Post, making a multi-million-dollar commitment to the game in China.
Cribbin said Hong Kong would have an important role to play in helping Chinese cricket and the city could also benefit by gaining access to the Guangzhou cricket ground used at the 2010 Asian Games.
“We can do two things,” he said. “Our nearness to southern China means they could be involved in our leagues. From our point of view, we will have access to a first-class ground to get it up to speed and use it for international fixtures.
“The Chinese men’s and women’s teams need match practice. The men’s team are not doing very well because they need more match practice and perhaps if they are playing in our leagues , they will improve.
“Hong Kong could also help in coaching their coaches and we could send our coaches to the mainland for short spells.”