Daqing makes a dash
Daqing, a city in north-east China, is the latest in the People’s Republic to take to cricket. About as far away as you can be from any Test-playing country without being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Daqing is the significant step in the evolution of China’s cricket. “We’re very impressed by their enthusiasm and welcome to cricket,” says Chinese Cricket Association’s Deputy Secretary General Zhang Tian.
The city in north-eastern Heilongjiang province, bordering Russia and Mongolia, is under snow for four and a half months of the year, so cricket, as with other sports relying on turf, is not easy to play. Nevertheless, spurred by the fact that an overwhelming percentage of China’s gold-medal winners have traditionally come from the north-east (“They are tall and with good stamina,” says Zhang Tian) the CCA very much wanted to bring cricket to the region. The success of Shenyang Sport University from neighbouring Liaoning province in China’s national championships has led to Daqing’s sporting authorities taking an interest in cricket. A number of university and high-school coaches were invited to Level I coaching courses in China who then took the game back to Daqing.
Daqing Normal University (as in not a specialist Science or Sport University) is the centre of Daqing’s cricket. With a high-school and primary school aligned to it, it is able to have cricket running throughout its sporting curriculum. Former Bangladesh international Manjurul Islam is coaching there now, assisted by women's national team player Sun Mengyao. They will be in Daqing until the arrival of the first frosts in mid-October. They have already unearthed a left-arm spinner, (“left-arm spin is a very useful weapon,” says the left-arm pace bowler) who Manjurul reckons has every chance of playing for China in the years ahead.