As part of the Asian Cricket Council’s aims to promote cricket throughout Asia, one of its Development Officers, Rumesh Ratnayake, went on a fact-finding mission to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
As with so many of its neighbours in South-East Asia, football is the most popular and most widely understood sport in Vietnam.
Cricket has been recorded as being played in Vietnam more than fifty years ago, but it was only as recently as 1993 that Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, hosted its first ‘international’ fixture. A combined England/Australia took on South Asia at the People’s Army Stadium.
Played on rough dirt, on a rattan matting wicket which had been someone’s kitchen floor just a few hours previously, the way deliveries reared up off a length meant that a five-yard run-up rule had to be implemented after two overs – and it has stayed that way in Hanoi ever since.
|AM .. Football||PM .. Cricket|
In Vietnam cricket’s flame has been kept alive by the usual assortment of Asian, English and Antipodean expatriates, for whom as ever, cricket is an excuse to get together, have some fun and exercise (but not too strenuous), and lift the drinking elbow (quite strenuous). But competitive fires burn strongly and in this year’s biggest fixture, India beat Australia at the Vietnam Air Force Ground, by five runs in a 25-over fixture. Played on a mat specially imported from halfway across the world - Haiti!
From Haiti to Hanoi!
Naturally, nothing happens in Vietnam without the blessing of the government. But private investment is crucial too. The example of golf in this instance in instructive. Golf has started to take off in the country, and is expanding with government help in a nation that first allowed private enterprise only 18 years ago.
Vietnam, which has been under Communist rule since the Vietnam war ended in 1975, had no golf courses in operation a decade ago but now already has 10. Nine more are under construction, and another eight are planned, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment. At the same time, Vietnam’s economy is increasing at a rate second only to China, thanks to a construction boom and its rapid export growth.
Next Page | “The Vietnam Sports Ministry is excited by the idea of promoting cricket.”