The Chinese Cricket Association has been assigned $400,000 in development funding, "in order to accelerate cricket's growth in the People's Republic", says Syed Ashraful Huq, Asian Cricket Council Chief Executive.

$200,000 comes from the Development Fund of the Asian Cricket Council and it is matched by the International Cricket Council's use of a Special Fund to release a further $200,000.

"This represents an opportunity for everyone involved with cricket in China," says Malcolm Speed, Chief Executive of the International Cricket Council. "There's been a very good start in China. This is a ten-year project and no one should be under any illusion that results will appear overnight," he continued. "Cricket in China is still very new and this funding from our two bodies is directed at strengthening the development structure for cricket as established by the state sporting administration."

Syed Ashraful Huq added, "As with any investment, timing is critical. China has gone from practically no cricket activity one year ago to 51 schools in Beijing and Shanghai playing the game, with close to 6500 participants."

In the 2006 season in China, the first in which cricket has been part of the school sports curriculum, there has been a U-15 Schools Competition in Beijing in July and in October the first Inter-Universities competition will be held at Tsinghua University, China's premier learning institution.

"This grant is special and substantial but in China they are not playing cricket with any thought of financial gain, they are playing cricket because once anyone has been exposed to 'The Noble Game', they are fascinated by it – coaches, players, and officials. This special funding is targetted at accelerating the growth process just when cricket is starting to gain some momentum," continued Mr. Huq.

Matthew Kennedy, ICC Global Development Manager says, "Prior to the funding allocation, we had been studying the matter for some time and appreciated that China because of its size and population is indeed a 'special case'. This is a new funding commitment outside of what the ACC provides already. We will be monitoring the situation closely and hope that the activity of China's cricketers and administrators helps them to bring cricket closer to the core of national sporting activity."

Filed September 27 2006

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