Home > Cricket Development > The Asian Games Conundrum: Should the Middle East sides field teams?

The Asian Games Conundrum: Should the Middle East sides field teams?

Cricket will be amongst a number of new sport additions at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. Given that the Asian Games is the continent’s premier sporting event, this is a fantastic result for the ICC, the ACC, Chinese Cricket, and the other member countries. A brand new cricket-only stadium with a capacity of over 5,000 people is currently being constructed in Guangzhou. In this unlikeliest of locations, one which which belies the sport’s colonial niche, the four test playing countries, China, and a number of other countries will be locked in intense battle not for pride, not for prestige, not for ashes – but for medals Or will they be? The unfortunate reality is that the test playing nations will dominate and destroy with little intensity. The question is how much will they dominate? How severely will they destroy? This will be determined by which non-test playing countries participate and by whom they are represented.

In a continent where many of the top non-test playing teams are dominated by Subcontinental expats with first-class experience, countries who want to and are eligible to participate in the Asian Games at the discretion of their Olympic Associations will struggle to field a team, let alone a competitive one.

The Middle East sides are prime culprits.Syed Asraful Haq added much fuel to the fire by recently advising the UAE not to field a team because they would “outclassed and embarrassed.” This was met by much criticism from Abdul Razzaq Kasim, long time patron of Emirates Cricket, the ECB (Emirates Cricket Board), and Oman Cricket. So the debate rages on. This is what I think.

UAE, Oman, and Kuwait have all indicated their interest in fielding teams at the tournament and may very well do so. The problems with this are multi-fold and serious.

– the tournament will be a farce. Scorecards may read: Kuwait vs India – Kuwait 10 all out, India 10/0 in 0.2.

– this will result in negative publicity for the sport amongst the media, fans all around the world, and governing bodies of the test countries. I can see the mainstream media carving into the likes of the ACC, and ICC about their development programs, and the OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) for allowing such a one-sided tournament to take place at the highest level.

– fans will be dispirited seeing such one sided games and appalling quality from some of the sides. “We should have just sent our local district team to play instead of Oman. It might’ve been a better game.” In the countries of the sub-continent where thousands of immensely talented cricketers never leave their local maidan, the tournament might well espouse sentiments of envy, anger, and complete disrespect towards the sport and its unfair nature.

– I don’t see the top test players being too appreciative of taking two weeks to play in China only to be cornered and trapped in excruciatingly substandard tournament. If the top players do not approve of the tournament, the top associations won’t approve of the tournament. This may lead to it being played by Test U-19 sides or discontinued all together. Nothing could be worse for the game.

– An uncompetitive tournament may leave the Chinese government, press, and public with a poor impression of the sport. The ACC and ICC have pumped millions into cricket in China, and a lack of public or media interest in the sport in not something they need. However, given that Chinese teams are starting to see some semblance of success in the international arena, and the government has made active, long-term decisions to pursue the development of cricket in China, this argument does not have much weight.

So what are the Middle East countries saying? They argue the following:

– Participation will expose local players and officials to a higher level of competition, and will offer them a chance to play on the big stage. This exposure, they argue, will help the development of national players and coaches in the long run. Is one tournament really going to do this? Are ‘nationals’ who have only played the game for two years really going to benefit from being repeatedly peppered by Malinga, or Mohammed Aamer or bamboozled by Bhajji?

– Asian Games participation will spark major interest amongst locals and governments in the respective countries. Success, and not participation sparks long term interest. 10 wicket drubbings are humiliating for fans, and governments will spark criticism, and disinterest in the sport.

– Lastly they say, if China is being allowed to participate without any problems, why is so much noise being made about us wanting to? This arguement has the most merit. In all fairness to the Middle East teams, China will probably be thrashed quite dramatically in the tournament, and this will have its on adverse effects on the development of the game. It all comes down to the ACC’s decision not to hold a qualifier with nationality qualifications similar to the OCA’s. Countries such as Afghanistan, Nepal, Maldives, Malaysia, and Bhutan who field 100% ethnically local sides would have been successful, and participated more competitively at the Asian Games.

The situation that exists is not a pretty one, however what finally transpires remains to be seen. Lets hope we don’t have a situation where we turn on our television sets hoping to watch a day of cricket at the Asian Games only to find out that game has ended four hours ago.

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Categories: Cricket Development
  1. December 28, 2009 at 4:53 am

    I think you answered your question yourself. The ACC should have held the qualifying tournament on the same eligbility rules as OCA. It is basically their own mistake.

    Btw, why dont ICC have the same eligbility rules as OCA for everything anyway? It will stop all the nonsense we deal (and discuss) with in cricket development regarding expats with first class experience :):)

  2. ahmed
    March 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    pathetic make sure when you write a article if you are trying to write it then show both side u are clearing favouring the expats , a question when india started playing the game or pakistan did any one question them for losing so much then tell me if the game remains in these countries how does it become global is cricket suppose to be played by the subcontent . reidcouls articles writen by a joker

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