Cricket and Mongolia are two things that have not been cited in the same sentence too often in the history of the world. They will be yoked together more often from now on. Aminul Islam has been to Liaoning Province, neighbouring vast Mongolia, continuing his mission to bring cricket to China. His latest, month-long, tour of the country has taken him to Guangzhou, Shenyang, Chaoyang, Linhai and Shanghai.

“Cricket development in China is progressing at consistent pace and as per the plan,” says Aminul, whose four-province, 18,000 mile tour of the mainland had him acting as a Match Referee at the ACC Twenty20 Women’s Asia Cup, coaching, providing technical support to the Chinese Cricket Association and generally communicating the merits of cricket every single day.

The season’s winding down in China now, winter sits heavily on the north and interior of the country, and administrators are starting to make plans for the year ahead. In between Beijing and Shenyang, in Liaoning Province, is Chaoyang, “another new city for cricket. The Head of Physical Education and Dean of Shenyang Sport University is working closely with CCA and ACC to introduce cricket in a number of cities in Liaoning province by putting up basic facilities and introducing it into the schools’ curriculum.

Liaoning Province is a strategic location for sports development since the most number of successful athletes (Olympic and Non-Olympic) come from this province,” says Aminul. Local lore has it that the tough conditions in north-eastern China breed a hardy race of people, full of stamina. Rising standards of living and targeted investment in sport have meant that sophisticated training techniques have led to other regions creating Olympians, but in China the old is never forgotten and it is eternally applied to the new.” There’s scope too in Shenyang, national champions in men’s and women’s cricket in China for the past five years, for some new cricket facilities. Shenyang Sport University is rich in land and with increasing awareness of multi-use opportunities, football pitches and even a golf-driving range can be adapted for all-weather wickets and cricket training facilities. “Every year they have new intake of cricketers and the number is going high,” says the man who is one of only two Test-cricketers in the world to speak Chinese.

The site at Shenyang Sport University which could be adopted for artificial and turf wickets

Guangzhou has a world-class ground and there are seven others in China, though the ones in Chongming are in some disrepair. A new ground is potentially on the way in Linhai in eastern China, to be built by the local government. Linhai is of strategic importance for Chinese cricket because, whereas Shenyang and Shanghai have been established as varsity cricket hubs, school cricketers are being developed in Linhai. Just three hours drive from Shanghai, the proposed proposed cricket ground’s site is ten minutes drive from the train station and fifteen minutes drive from the city centre, and has a water reservoir adjacent to it. Aminul has seen the location for the proposed ground and says “the proposed location for ground is a right choice as per my opinion due to valid reasons.” The CCA is working very closely with the local government on this project. 80% of the permissions (imagine about 50 officials needing to give their approval) have been obtained, and now its just a matter of whether the land owner accepts the offer.

The proposed site for the ground in Linhai, Taizhou Prefecture, Zhejiang Province

Shanghai as a city-state has found a way to o-exist with the central authority of Beijing, and Aminul says “the Shanghai Cricket Association is doing an excellent job to develop cricket in Shanghai and the neighbouring cities. They are going to form a University Cricket Association with all universities involved in Cricket in China with the help of the CCA. In 2013, approximately 25 to 30 new schools are going to be introduced with cricket by the Shanghai Cricket Association.” Medical Equipment College (three national team players) has already started developing a cricket field in Shanghai which will be ready by 2014.

While he was in Shanghai Aminul conducted a Level I Coaching and Umpiring Course at Tongji University, assisted by a guest educator (ECB Level II Coach Educator) Shahidul Alam Ratan of London’s Capital Kids helped the CDO. Chinese Umpire educator Dr. Liu Jingmin conducted sessions for the umpires. 34 university, school and PE teachers from Shanghai, Chongming, Nimbo and Jinan took part.

Tongji University, Shanghai: ACC Level I Coaching and Umpiring, November 2012

Aminul will be returning to China in January 2013, and for the moment, says “China cricket (an ACC and ICC Special Project) is growing in every aspect from team performance to player and facilities development.” Mongolia, at -25 degrees Centigrade, will be too cold then, but once it gets above freezing point in April, he and the CCA will be there too. Ten of China’s 22 provinces have been introduced to cricket, there’s a lot of land and a lot of children left to go.

China Cricket Profile

Filed November 22nd, 2012