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Cricket in China can only augur well - Suneer Chowdhary column
by Suneer Chowdhary
May 14, 2009
The Chinese, and it is a known fact, pick things up pretty quickly. Yet, expecting them to beat some of the other cricket playing countries in their own game looks as plausible as BCCI recognising the Indian Cricket League in the near future. And so, when the announcement that China will play host to seven other Asian cricket playing countries in next year's Asia Cup came about, one couldn't help but chuckle at the lack of competition that not only India or a Pakistan, but also an Afghanistan - the most recent qualifiers of the ODI status - could face in the lead-up to the knock-out stages.

However, make no mistake, the Chinese sports officials have set a clear set of goals for the sport to succeed in the country; a mandate that leads to their qualification in the 2019 World Cup - which is a decade away - and a test playing status in the year 2020. Talk about having a '2020' vision! Former Pakistani skipper, Javed Miandad had only recently visited China as a cricket consultant and looked to be impressed by what he saw; 'enthusiasm and interest there from government officials to university students'.

However, it is not only from the sport's perspective that the signs for China's recognition of the game as one to try and excel at, are encouraging. It would have already sent the ICC treasurer-in-chief, who had only recently set out a mandate to implement an IPL-like model in another populous 'market', USA, in a tizzy at the kind of market that could be tapped with the likes of a Chinese Premier League!

But, on a serious note, there is no doubting the fact that the introduction of this game to a country will augur well for its development in the region, as it would enhance the chances of its qualification for the Olympics. It is evident that the Koreas and the Indonesias of the world will look to try and give China a run for their money, by getting their own infrastructure in place, and in turn, building their own teams. While the whole thing may sound straight out of a futuristic Hollywood flick - or futuristic minus the Hollywood anyways - it shouldn't take more than a decade for the plans to fructify.

And it is not so much about the hype generated or the ticklish feeling at the prospects of actually watching a Germany play an Italy in a cricket match at the Olympics, but it could also mean those many more employment opportunities in those countries. Apart from the players, former players and the coaching staff, there would be a definite requirement for cricket consultants, writers, webmasters, television hosts, commentators...the list is long.

As a truly global sport, there is a definite potential for inclusive growth of many an individual associated directly or indirectly with the game.

The other recent development, of which I made a slight reference above, is that of the ICC wanting to introduce a model which is similar to the Indian Premier League; something that is as exciting as the concept itself. The reasons, to me, though look a trifle shaky; this is an answer of sorts to the unrecognised, soon-to-be launched, American Premier League, that is the brainchild of a private businessman from US. Add a touch of the perennially existing in-fighting within the USA Cricket Association, and you could actually end up having a fractious situation soon.

One hopes, for the sake of cricket in USA, that the matter resolves itself in a more amicable manner than the Subhash Chandra-BCCI feud.
 
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