China February 16, 2007

China ... the fragile reality

Matthew Pryor in The Times take a look at the reality behind stories that cricket is about to take off in China:-

Matthew Pryor in The Times take a look at the reality behind stories that cricket is about to take off in China:-

Thus far, many of the clichéd reports of cricket gripping the Chinese have been just that — the truth has been much more fragile. But as they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and there has been genuine movement in the past two years.

Malcom Speed, never a man to miss an opportunity for massive new markets for the game has his own thoughts.

“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.”

But Robin Marlar, who as president of MCC led a club tour there last year, makes clear that the state, as with most walks of life, is in control and wants to remain that way.

“The Chinese Government want to keep the two streams apart. For them it is politically essential. They want it to become their game, not an expat game.”

And, Marlar asked, what about the lack of coaches?

“They [the Chinese officials] said, ‘Don’t worry, we will take them into camp for three months’ and when I pressed the point they said it may well be six months. That is how they launched table tennis and swimming, in which they now excel. They just did it. The potential is enormous.”

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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