With Cambodia being one of the three new members of the ACC, prior to them applying for membership of the ICC next year, the Chief Executive of the Cricket Association of Thailand Mohideen Kader went there on behalf of the ACC to, as he says, "assess the present status of Cricket Association of Cambodia vis-à-vis ICC criteria for achieving Affiliate Membership and to advise in the areas that need attention."

During his three day visit, Mr. Kader met with the seven-member Executive Board of the Cricket Association of Cambodia and accompanied Mr. Vath Chamroen (President), Mr. Manish Sharma (Vice-President), Mr. An Viravudh (Secretary-General) and Ms. Tay Lida (Treasurer) to the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.

Mr. Kader explains a situation common to other developing countries in that, “the sports associations in Cambodia come under one umbrella which is the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) and as such a separate National Sports Council does not exist. At present 18 Olympic sports associations and 23 non-Olympic sports associations are members of the NOCC. The Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth allocates funds for the various member associations but they are mainly granted to Olympic sports associations.”

The old ‘yes, we’ll happily support and fund you as long as cricket’s in the Olympics’ canard presented itself but with Messrs. Chamroen and Mr. Viravudh also being the Secretary General and Deputy Director of Marketing and Promotion of the NOCC respectively, there is every chance that cricket will be looked upon favourably by Cambodia’s National Olympic Committee should the basic criteria be fulfilled. Cricket, while not in the Olympics, is part of the Olympic movement by its inclusion in the Asian Games. The Cambodia Cricket Association will be given office space in the Olympic Committee building once it is completed in December.

Mohideen Kader, (second from left), with members of the CAC Executive Board from left to right, Tay Lida, Vath Chamroen, Manish Sharma, An Viravudh

Cricket in the former French colony Cambodia is still an expatriate game at senior level. Mr. Kader has been informed “that there are many expatriate cricketers in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap who can qualify under the seven year and four year category to field a national side.” However, a registry of those cricketers needs to be created, and “If they are able to produce this they will be able to meet the criteria 1.2. I have given a copy of the ICC qualification guide lines,” says Mr. Kader.

While there is a fair amount of ad hoc cricket, Mr. Kader reports that “a structured league format does not exist as yet. Impromptu fixtures are organized at infrequent intervals. There seems to be a possibility of organizing a structured league but this again calls for setting up a committee to run a structured league. To meet criteria 1.3 this is essential.”

The President of the Cricket Association of Cambodia (CAC) affirmed that the National Stadium and the Army Stadium will be available if a structured league is organized.

Junior cricket however, is where there is plenty of potential. Five of six schools playing cricket have only Cambodians (boys and girls) playing in them and though during Mr. Kader’s visit the schools were on holiday, he did observe a coaching session at Bak Touk School in Phnom Penh, in which 15 Cambodian boys took part. “The other important piece of information given by the CAC President,“ says Mr. Kader, is that the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth has issued a directive to include cricket in the school curriculum.

A coaching session in Phnom Penh

Facilities are still basic, only two of the schools have any kind of playing area for practices and some form of games and following Mr. Kader’s advice, they will be looking into putting up nets at them “so that basic technique could be taught on a proper surface.” Coir matting is on the way too, and the CAC President has confirmed that he will make the National Stadium and the Army Stadium available for competitions. Longer term, Cambodia is in line to host the SEA Games in 2021 and a new sports complex on 94 hectares will have adequate space for a full-sized cricket ground if needed, and funded.

With considerable experience in the evolution of a game for a minority to one which includes the local majority in Thailand along with his years at the helm of an ICC Associate, Mr. Kader was himself able to advise the CAC on best administrative practice for what he describes as “the multi-faceted tasks of development.” People are at hand in the capital and Siem Reap and Battambang to help and indeed much concerted support will be needed if Cambodia is to emulate Thailand. That is still some way away, Mr. Kader’s status report to Cambodia “will give an idea of the work that have to go in to meet the ICC Criteria to be eligible for Affiliate Membership.”

ACC Development Manager Bandula Warnapura thanked Mr. Kader for his efforts, noting that “Cambodia can learn a lot from Thailand for the way it is turning cricket in the public perception from a game for foreigners to a game which native boys and girls can play and enjoy in increasing numbers. There’s a long way to go before Cambodia comes up to Thailand’s level but with all the enthusiasm on offer, with what looks like a strong administrative set-up, there is certainly a lot of potential. The world could have a thousand new Cambodian cricketers very soon.“

Thailand Cricket Profile
Chinese Taipei Starting

Filed October 18th, 2012