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Opinion: On China’s ‘potential’

ACC and ICC both have recently given statements about how Cricket’s taking off in China can increase global cricket revenues by at least 40%. I just wanted to make a couple of comments on this. First of all, China will only increase global revenue if there are around 3-400 million people interested in cricket. Otherwise, with only 150K players and followers, their Cricket economy is smaller than Sri lanka’s. And we all know that China is not going to be able to get 300-400 million people into cricket in the next 25 years.

Secondly, I have seen the Chinese schools playing cricket in their first ever championships this year. They were all 15 years old, and their skill level was that of a 4 year old Pakistani kid. Wild swings, and the bat crashing onto the stumps in the follow through and all (and this was the final of the tournament !!). So there is quite some time before they can start making any impressions. Somebody mentioned that if Australia was 97, and Sri lanka was 94, then China was a 3 or 4 . This is probably a correct estimation. But it is very good that not only are the Chinese taking up the game, but their govt is interested in it, and the neighbouring test countries are actively looking into their system. Cricket cannot be a global sport without China playing it.

But my question is, if you are going to start off from a stratch, and you are interested in global revenues, then why didnt anyone ever give a look at Italy, where cricket is much more extablished than China and the economy is exactly the same size, or Japan, where cricket is definitely more developed than China and the economy is 4 times that of China?? A cricket crazy Netherlands and Canada combined is also going to bring you the same revenue that China collectively can, and these countries have much better and more advanced infrastrucutre for the game. How come no one ever took any interest in them if a variable of consideration was economy?

Categories: China
  1. September 19, 2006 at 2:14 pm

    Also look at how Myanmar were able to get a team together for the ACC Trophy after just 2 months of ICC membership, but China couldn’t after two years. Myanmar may have got thrashed, but at least they showed up.

    From what you say about the schools championship, it looks like they’re not even going to be able to send a team to the Under 15 tournament in December.

    If only they could pick Hong Kong’s players! Speaking of which, we have an interview with Hong Kong captain Rahul Sharma at Beyond the Boundary, which you may be interested in reading: http://caughtbehind.com/btb/what-can-be-imagined-can-be-achieved

  2. September 19, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    Myanmar’s team was a joke…… it wasnt a proper team, it was just a collection of people who knew what cricket was and were able to lift a bat……… China’s team will be a little bit better than them, at least they have the players after some selection …….. I think they will be able to field a team in the U15 champioship, you also have Brunei who were dismissed for 11, chasing 400 runs in the U19 cup, so China will have good company…………..

  3. Bruce Gaskell
    September 19, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    I agree with your first paragraph Nasir, its stupid to pontificate about future revenues from Chinese Cricket. Saying China will suddenly provide more revenue than England, Australia or Pakistan is ridiculous.

    I don’t think that the likes of Canada or Italy are a better a bet however, these countries have established major sports, with several minor sports trying to grab market share. You could say the same for China, but while some might argue that China goes mad for the English Premiership or the NBA the reality is that at present they are hardly a sports mad nation. (aside from the fixation which all authoritarian regimes have with the Olympics). My point is that there is untapped potential there. Consider how much money Indian Cricket generates, China is richer and more populous, but does their football or basketball command a fraction of the revenue? There is clearly money to be made there, and while it is optimistic to think Cricket might cash in what’s the point in trying?

    And while we might laugh if say, Denmark, announced it was going to quadruple its playing numbers, you get the feeling that the Chinese will take their targets quite seriously.

  4. September 19, 2006 at 3:14 pm


    I think these interviews are a good addition to BTB. This one is a bit more detailed as well compared to the previous ones that you had so thats good. But I am just shocked at the following statement by Rahul Sharma:

    “There is no major sponsorship available to enure continued payout to players, which is really a hinderance. There is a real desire today to get this situation rectified and be able leverage off the teams success in KL. Should this happen, we can then think of getting players from the Sub Continent, not many, but say 8 to 10 initially, who can get jobs here and eventually in 4 years time qualify to play for Hong Kong. This will also see a ries in the local league standard.”

    What the hell is that??? Is that the way they think that their national team can progress ? Offering jobs to 8-10 desis, who will jump at the oppurtunity, and then making them play cricket in the leagues so that they qualify for the national team in 4 years !?!?!

    What is this ?? Who wants to see a Hong Kong team comprised of 8-10 second string Pakistani players (who cant even make the Pakistan Academy team) who went to HK 4 years ago and are now ‘qualified’ ?? Definitely not the Pakistanis, nor the HK people apparently……..

    Andrew/ Rego…… this is the exact problem that I have been mentioning for a while now………. good to confirm it straight from the horses mouth……

  5. Ram
    September 19, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    I think more than the economic benefits from China playing the game, it’s the prospect of exponentially increasing the worldwide cricket following by concentrating on just one country that’s tempting the ICC to focus on China…Of course, cricket’s revenues increasing due to China’s presence will start happening only when China becomes serious about cricket and that will take atleast another 15 years…But about the fact that 300-400 million people need to passionately follow the game in China, I think you don’t need such a wide following for a 30-40% revenue increase…Even if the Chinese become as interested in cricket as NZ, I think the 30-40% mark can be achieved…I would assume 300-400 million following to have a much higher effect than the 30-40% we’re refering to given China’s economy and its growth rate…

    But I think you’re right that the ICC is getting it wrong by not focussing on Japan and Italy…I don’t know why these countries despite having two of the world’s largest economies and having mainstream players playing the game are ignored….However, I’ve my reservations about countries like Canada and Netherlands becoming cricket-crazy….I do think that it would be extremely difficult for these European countries to become passionate about cricket simply because they’ve been playing the game for decades and yet haven’t produced a single Test team from the mainland….About Canada and USA, I think there’s a closed-door policy towards foreign sports there though I see Canada being in a slightly better situation than USA….

  6. rego
    September 20, 2006 at 12:16 am

    Nasir I think reason ICC and ACC are so excited with China is because China has one of the largest and most disciplined sporting developing programs in the world. Their sports schools are widespread and this produces thousands of world class athletes. Their newest interest has been women’s tennis where they have produced 5 or 6 top 100 players in the last year or two alone. Everyone knows that once China takes up a sport seriously, it usually ends up being one of the world’s best and in quick time. Secondly, China is the most populous country in the world, and is slated to be the largest economy in the world in a decade or so. I agree with you that ICC should have payed more attention to a country like Japan or Italy, however China usually have ambitious mainstreaming plans and usually come through with them. I’m pretty sure China will be able to send a team to the U-15 Championships in Thailand in December.

  7. September 20, 2006 at 12:31 am


    There is no doubting the fact that China SHOULD be playing cricket, and that it IS exciting news for the future of the game. I was just commenting on the ‘global revenues’ argument given by the ICC/ACC, and their clear lack of support for other countries which could also have boosted global revenues, esp Japan. They are starting off from a scratch anyway.

    btw, I dont think that China produced 6 women in tennis in the last year from a scratch. I have a colleague from Shangai, who tells me that China has quite a few women fanatic about tennis who watch and play the game all the time. It was just a matter of taking the standard up of a significant playing number, it wasnt like cricket where they are starting off from a scratch, literally by first translation the rules manual into Mandarin.

  8. rego
    September 20, 2006 at 6:19 am

    Oh ok..yeah well that makes sense..however my point with that is..whenever China decides to take up a sport more seriously..they usually succeed..Ofcourse starting from scratch won’t be easy..however it is understandable that ICC is taking a special interest because of the potential China, the most populous nation and potentially economically strong nation in the world brings to the sport. interesting points though about Italy and Japan though..one would think that Argentina and possibly Israel might fall into a similar category.

  9. fred
    September 21, 2006 at 6:05 am

    wow. $400,000 thrown around wildly because some teenagers managed to hold a bat for a few hours while someone watched?
    I guess they are going to hire someone(s) to teach cricket coaching to people who have never heard of the game before, who will be instructed to teach it to other people who have never heard of it before and slowly but surely the subtleties and complexities of the game will be understood by 50-100million people and in 10 years they will be playing Tests?
    Wasn’t one of these ‘inter-provincial school championship’ players quoted as saying “I only played cos I was told.”??
    Wouldn’t midn some of that devotion (not jusy money) here in Japan! Fred from Fred’s Fabulous CC can ask til he’s blue in the face for space for a ground here, but Japanese authorities might take more notice of the head of the ICC.

  10. December 6, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    I guess I answered my question in the blog itself without realizing it.

    The ‘big deal’ about starting cricket off in china from a scatch IS that India, Pakistan are interested, ICC is interested and the Chinese govt is interested. While we talk about other countries like Canada, Netherlands, Italy and Japan, the point ends up being that no test countries are really interested in developing cricket in these regions, and none of these have governments which are interested either.

    With these 2 variables in hand, in addition to the fact that China has 25% of the world’s population, ICC/ACC paying much more attention to China makes sense.

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