China December 10, 2009

China's captain on starting from scratch

An interview with Wang Lei, China’s captain, in the National newspaper highlights how far the game has to go to get a foothold in the country, despite the gushing enthusiasm of the ICC and ACC.

An interview with Wang Lei, China’s captain, in the National newspaper highlights how far the game has to go to get a foothold in the country, despite the gushing enthusiasm of the ICC and ACC.

Speaking at the recent ACC Twenty20 tournament, where China were thrashed by all comers, Lei said he had been playing the game for two years.

When I was asked if I was interested in playing cricket, I had no clue of the sport. I had never seen or even heard of cricket, so I was curious at first to know more about what this game was all about. Nothing seemed to sink in when they tried to explain how cricket was played, even after watching some video footage and demonstrations.

The introduction to the game was from the very basic, using soft balls. The first few months were all about fielding and then I was taught how to bowl. I never got anything straight but a few days later I did pretty well to hit the stump a few times. I know how to bowl a leg break and an off break, but I decided to take the easier option to bowl medium fast.

When I got to bat for the first time, after a few lessons and seeing how the drive-shot was played, I hammered the first ball like a baseball hit. I was later told that was the pull shot. I have learned to play all the strokes in the book yet the pull shot is my favourite.

The catching and throwing wasn’t difficult to learn, but batting and bowling need skills. And two years on, I feel I have done reasonably well for a first timer.

Initially, cricket sounded similar to baseball. In teaching the children, it became more interesting for me, and not only was I passing on the knowledge but I was learning more by doing the basics over and over again.

Whereas those running the game see China as a great untapped (commercial) market, Lei was more sensible in his expectations.

Ours is an experimental side but wait and see when the children start to come out from the production lines. We have some as young as nine and they hold a better future for China. I am one of the older players at 23 and the rest are very young … six of them are 16. So this team are going to be around for some time.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sam on February 17, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    The Chinese are one of the best performers in most of the sports, so I am sure that they can deliver the same results in cricket too. But it needs a lot of attention from ICC and also from the neighboring cricket playing nations. China will surely succeed.

  • Anil Koshy on December 29, 2009, 15:19 GMT

    ICC should encourage teams like China where cricket is still growing sport. I am sure China can compete better than other associate teams. Instead of wasting money on teams like Canada & UAE, ICC should focus on China, Afganistan, Nepal, Uganda etc. Atleast these teams can field 8-9 local players.

  • Simon Butler on December 14, 2009, 6:03 GMT

    China is a great untapped market for cricket, but it will be a long a rocky road to creating a respectable team as their team captain has said. Of course the ICC should be interested in establishing the game in China, but lets not get too far ahead. It will take years to build a group of crickets good enough to even match some of the lesser associates. I hope China dose well in the future, but don't expect big things for a few years yet. They have a long way to go.

  • Henry Pryor on December 11, 2009, 16:57 GMT

    As a former cricket coach I remember feeling exactly as Mr Wang Lei did when teaching and coaching mostly in primary schools. Passing on the basics made me understand the game better and I wish I had been coaching when still playing. Mr Wang Lei sounds as if he will be an inspiration for new players in China. I wish him an the Chinese every success

  • GaryGarryBeers on December 11, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    Its one thing to get the spin doctors version but to hear it from the horses mouth is the most reliable. As a cricket lover, I feel that it is wonderful that the sport is getting a go in countries such as China.What a feeling that must be, starting from scratch with a sport you know nothing about and two years later, your the captain! Brilliant! Much respect and support to Mr Wang Lei

  • Terry Jones on December 10, 2009, 22:57 GMT

    I agree that China are a great untapped market, and are hopeful of seeing China climb the ladder to Full member within 20 years. China is the sort of country that would do well at Test Cricket, and most likely would be marketable, compared to other countries which prefer faster versions like ODI and T20I. I think this is an important example why cricket needs a multi-tier format to allow countries like China to climb the ladder through victories instead of ICC politics. I think ICC should push China to set up an elite first class competition (1 per state/provision/whatever, max of 6) and invite other players from around the world to attend, similar to IPL, say a Chinese Premier League (CPL). Even tapping a small portion of Chinese market will do wonders for the sport in China.

  • Sam on February 17, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    The Chinese are one of the best performers in most of the sports, so I am sure that they can deliver the same results in cricket too. But it needs a lot of attention from ICC and also from the neighboring cricket playing nations. China will surely succeed.

  • Anil Koshy on December 29, 2009, 15:19 GMT

    ICC should encourage teams like China where cricket is still growing sport. I am sure China can compete better than other associate teams. Instead of wasting money on teams like Canada & UAE, ICC should focus on China, Afganistan, Nepal, Uganda etc. Atleast these teams can field 8-9 local players.

  • Simon Butler on December 14, 2009, 6:03 GMT

    China is a great untapped market for cricket, but it will be a long a rocky road to creating a respectable team as their team captain has said. Of course the ICC should be interested in establishing the game in China, but lets not get too far ahead. It will take years to build a group of crickets good enough to even match some of the lesser associates. I hope China dose well in the future, but don't expect big things for a few years yet. They have a long way to go.

  • Henry Pryor on December 11, 2009, 16:57 GMT

    As a former cricket coach I remember feeling exactly as Mr Wang Lei did when teaching and coaching mostly in primary schools. Passing on the basics made me understand the game better and I wish I had been coaching when still playing. Mr Wang Lei sounds as if he will be an inspiration for new players in China. I wish him an the Chinese every success

  • GaryGarryBeers on December 11, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    Its one thing to get the spin doctors version but to hear it from the horses mouth is the most reliable. As a cricket lover, I feel that it is wonderful that the sport is getting a go in countries such as China.What a feeling that must be, starting from scratch with a sport you know nothing about and two years later, your the captain! Brilliant! Much respect and support to Mr Wang Lei

  • Terry Jones on December 10, 2009, 22:57 GMT

    I agree that China are a great untapped market, and are hopeful of seeing China climb the ladder to Full member within 20 years. China is the sort of country that would do well at Test Cricket, and most likely would be marketable, compared to other countries which prefer faster versions like ODI and T20I. I think this is an important example why cricket needs a multi-tier format to allow countries like China to climb the ladder through victories instead of ICC politics. I think ICC should push China to set up an elite first class competition (1 per state/provision/whatever, max of 6) and invite other players from around the world to attend, similar to IPL, say a Chinese Premier League (CPL). Even tapping a small portion of Chinese market will do wonders for the sport in China.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Terry Jones on December 10, 2009, 22:57 GMT

    I agree that China are a great untapped market, and are hopeful of seeing China climb the ladder to Full member within 20 years. China is the sort of country that would do well at Test Cricket, and most likely would be marketable, compared to other countries which prefer faster versions like ODI and T20I. I think this is an important example why cricket needs a multi-tier format to allow countries like China to climb the ladder through victories instead of ICC politics. I think ICC should push China to set up an elite first class competition (1 per state/provision/whatever, max of 6) and invite other players from around the world to attend, similar to IPL, say a Chinese Premier League (CPL). Even tapping a small portion of Chinese market will do wonders for the sport in China.

  • GaryGarryBeers on December 11, 2009, 3:24 GMT

    Its one thing to get the spin doctors version but to hear it from the horses mouth is the most reliable. As a cricket lover, I feel that it is wonderful that the sport is getting a go in countries such as China.What a feeling that must be, starting from scratch with a sport you know nothing about and two years later, your the captain! Brilliant! Much respect and support to Mr Wang Lei

  • Henry Pryor on December 11, 2009, 16:57 GMT

    As a former cricket coach I remember feeling exactly as Mr Wang Lei did when teaching and coaching mostly in primary schools. Passing on the basics made me understand the game better and I wish I had been coaching when still playing. Mr Wang Lei sounds as if he will be an inspiration for new players in China. I wish him an the Chinese every success

  • Simon Butler on December 14, 2009, 6:03 GMT

    China is a great untapped market for cricket, but it will be a long a rocky road to creating a respectable team as their team captain has said. Of course the ICC should be interested in establishing the game in China, but lets not get too far ahead. It will take years to build a group of crickets good enough to even match some of the lesser associates. I hope China dose well in the future, but don't expect big things for a few years yet. They have a long way to go.

  • Anil Koshy on December 29, 2009, 15:19 GMT

    ICC should encourage teams like China where cricket is still growing sport. I am sure China can compete better than other associate teams. Instead of wasting money on teams like Canada & UAE, ICC should focus on China, Afganistan, Nepal, Uganda etc. Atleast these teams can field 8-9 local players.

  • Sam on February 17, 2010, 8:54 GMT

    The Chinese are one of the best performers in most of the sports, so I am sure that they can deliver the same results in cricket too. But it needs a lot of attention from ICC and also from the neighboring cricket playing nations. China will surely succeed.