In December 2006, the Chinese U-15 Cricket Team came to Bangkok to contest the ACC U-15 Challenge Cup 2006, in what was China’s first international cricket tournament. I had a chance to meet up with some the players, coaches, and administrators from that team to get an insight into what moves China is making to develop the sport in the country.
For all of you who didn’t actually see that Chinese team in action, they were one of the most disciplined fielding sides in the tournament, they had some accurate, orthodox bowlers, and some very technically correct batsmen (hence the fact that they managed to bat out close to 40 overs in every match they played.), they even won their debut match albeit against Myanmar (Myanmar were more experienced). An gutsy effort for a debut tournament courtesy of 6 hours of training per day for 2 months under former Pakistani test player, Rashid Khan. Every player in the squad was an ethnic Chinese, as is the norm with China and all its endeavours.
Though China have been playing the sport for just over a year, both the ICC and ACC have correctly identified the cricketing potential of the world’s most populous nation and are investing huge amounts of money, and expertise into the country. China were alloted US$200,000 for the December Tournament alone, and are being given $5.6 million for the year 2007 by the ACC and ICC. Between the months of July and September, Cricket Australia and ACC (under Rumesh Ratnayake, and Roger Binny) trained 82 school PE teachers and national sports council employees to become Cricket Australia Level 1 coaches. China has 2 times the number of Level 1 coaches than any other associate or affiliate member in the Asian region (Malaysia is 2nd with 40 odd). Another sign of intent from the various bodies is the allocation of land by the Chinese government and money by the ACC for 2 specialized cricket schools, one of which will be opened in Beijing.
The CCA has set itself a variety of goals for the next 10 – 15 years namely:
One thing is for sure, when the Chinese try their hand at something, they usually give it 200%, and end up succeeding There’s no doubt that China will become a Cricketing heavyweight. The question remains as to when, and from what i’ve seen, and heard, sooner than all of us think!
Very interesting. China has won their first ever representative cricket match. Bhutan beating Maldives also seems to be an interesting indication, given the amount of interest in cricket in Maldives, and the the fact that Maldives have been affiliated with ICC for much longer.
Rego? Are you in Thailand watching all this? How about some first hand feedback?
Well well……. looks like people are getting serious……. China U15 to tour Pak, Pak School team to visit China…. Pakistan appointing a coach for the U15 team……..
Perhaps it would be best to start off with the China U10 team…… those guys CAN theoratically be trained to become world class players…… I think it may be too late to start playing serious cricket at the age of 15…… though one should not forget that Rana Naveed ul Hassan from Pakistan did not play cricket seriously until he was 16-17………
Its going to take about 20 years…… but at least the process has been started off…… the only non Test country that test countries are taking a lot of interest in 🙂
Sure, it is taking root……. it is in the seed plantation stage, by no means should it is considered to be ready for harvest, perhaps not in the near future either……. I read this article, and the only reason I thought I should post this is because it actually spells out some numbers….. 19 primary schools, 20 middle schools, 20 universities, talent identification and first time trials were for 6416 kids, and 995 of them chose to pick up the game, so about 18%, which is a little higher than the normal (usually, it is around 10% in European countries)…..
Now, China is planning to have 30K players by the end of 2007, so in 15 months……. thats a lot of players, and thats a huge jump from the current 995. I dont know if it is going to be possible, but with there being a certain element of ‘must do’ in trying out the new game, they might just do it, who knows………..
30K should throw up a decent natural talent, and you never know, China may be more competitive than a lot of countries at the U15 level……. but I doubt that will be this year, perhaps in the next……. I see another Myanmar or a Brunei happenning this year…….. well, maybe not Myanmar……. anything is better than Myanmar Cricket team !!
I like the fact that the CCA has started the pilot programs in the cities where there is ‘open mindedness’ and the will to ‘try something new’….. shows that CCA is seriously going after this business…… Perhaps they may want to restrict themselves to 2-3 cities initially, get a lot of kids playing there, because they may be able to make a localized cricket culture that way, before spreading it out……
Both the ACC and ICC have equally split up the number and are going to fund the development programme in China. While I think that ACC have done more than their share of funding, I think the ICC could have done more. China is 25% of the non-cricketing world population, so $1mil perhaps should have been given to them to jumpstart their process. But I think China can also go a long way to supplement their already existing govt interest with even this amount.
World Rugby Federation once gave $5mil for the US to develop the game over there. FIFA has from time to time given Pakistan $2mil for football development, and I am sure they give India a lot more. All these are considered investments for the future of the game, and by future, I mean 10-15 years onwards. If the people using the money are not smart, or corrupt, then the money can go to waste, as it arguably has gone in the Pakistan/FIFA case. Well, its not all gone to waste, but a lot more could have been done with the money.
One can only imagine, that if Uganda can get 29K players in the junior leagues with $50K of funding (increased to $100K this year), what they would be able to achieve with a funding of a $1mil……. But then the question comes up whether Uganda will be able to ‘pay back’ the ICC through revenues added through its own economy, which China clearly can. However, I think the immediate problem that cricket has is one in which there are only 8 countries that are good enough to play each other and are marketable. This number needs to be increased to 20 in the next 5-10 years.
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?
Around the end of 2005, ACC Development managers visited China and answered some good questions about the future and development of cricket in that country. Personally, I do not see China doing anything until at least another 10-15 years, which is normal. But it seems that they are on a faster track, because they are already playing in the 2006 ACC Trophy. This would probably also mean that they are going to start playing in the U15 and U19 tournaments as well for Asia.
All is good, but one has to keep in mind that improvement in the standards of cricket is not quick. It takes a good amount of time. So lets have the fingers crossed. It seems that Chinese government and authorities are themselves interested in the development and the promotion of the sport in China, which may be something which fast tracks them over some of their other Affiliate and Associate friends.
I do not know why this article is so low key in cricket development circles, especially in ACC. It was not even posted on their website. I read this about 10 days back, and today I was not able to find it easily through google etc. So I thought I will make a posting here to make sure that the article does not get lost.