Japan April 27, 2008

Samurai swagger in genteel old game

With the ICC World Cricket League Division Five set to take place in Jersey in May, the Mainichi Daily News has an interesting article on Japan’s preparations for the tournament.





Japanese leg spinner Kenji Murata at Fuji Cricket Ground in Fuji © Mainichi Daily News
With the ICC World Cricket League Division Five set to take place in Jersey in May, the Mainichi Daily News has an interesting article on Japan’s preparations for the tournament.

Naoki Alex Miyaji typically opens the bowling for Japan, but that's not the only way the 29-year-old son of a Japanese father and Scottish mother bends his back on behalf of the game in this country. He's also the CEO of the Japan Cricket Association (JCA), an NPO entrusted with the task of promoting the world's second-most popular participation sport in a land where, for the majority, Cricket is the name of a fashion label.

Despite the iconic surroundings of the playing headquarters at the foot of the country's most sacred peak and bullet trains hurtling past at regular intervals, Fuji Cricket Ground is also symbolic of the state of the game's status in Japan. Its two pitches are among no more than a handful found throughout the entire country. And they're located about 150 kilometers from the center of Tokyo, making a trip there a costly effort in terms of both time and money, an even greater drain considering the core of the game here revolves around university student players.

Nonetheless, Japanese cricket is making inroads. Miyaji estimates there are about 2,000 senior and junior cricket players in competitions that include expatriate-centered and university leagues. JCA has branches in Kanto, Kansai, Hokkaido and Shikoku. Nationwide, almost 6,000 boys and girls have been taught about the sport.

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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