Beyond the Test World January 29, 2006

From Oaxtepec to Kaohsiung

Tony Munro
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The first cricket match played outside Mexico City since World War Two was played on a driving range at the Lomas de Cocoyoc Golf Club © Cricinfo Ltd
Kenya's shedding of its position as an ICC pariah will be officially recognised when it is named as the host of the World League First Division tournament for early next year.

The tournament, the dates for which are not yet settled, will be the last hit-out before the 2007 World Cup for its six Associate participants (Bermuda, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Kenya and Scotland).

It is understood hosting rights were awarded to the new ICC-approved Cricket Kenya administration as compensation for demotion from automatic qualification to future World Cups after 2007.

First Central American Championships scheduled for next month
An unofficial competition for Central American 'national' teams will be held in Belize from March 18-20.

Mexico, Costa Rica and Belize are confirmed for the tournament to be run along the same informal lines as the South American Championships while teams from El Salvador, Guatemala and Puerto Rico are possibilities. Should a fourth team be required, Belize will field an 'A' side.

Panama declined an invitation as it is committed to the expense of travelling to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the World Cricket League Americas Region Division Two tournament from April 2-9.

ICC Americas officials hope the event will provide a gentle introduction to international cricket for the region's fledgling cricket outposts.

"The idea is really to kick-start representative cricket without eligibility requirements in countries such as Mexico and Costa Rica," enthused ICC Americas Regional Development Manager, Martin Vieira. "We launched the Central American tournament, having witnessed the positive spin-off in countries such as Brazil and Chile from the South American tournament, which has no restrictions."

Mexican cricket on the move as Tigres de Bengala claim season's first title
The first cricket match played outside Mexico City since World War Two was played on a driving range at the Lomas de Cocoyoc Golf Club in Oaxtepec, 70 miles from the capital last month.

Against the backdrop of the smouldering Volcan Popocatepetl, an attentive Oaxtepec media provided generous coverage of the exhibition match involving a mixture of local recruits from a brief induction session held that day and enthusiastic expats overseeing the Mexico Cricket Association's first regional development foray.

Mexico City team captain, Chris Wood, was encouraged by the response: "if we can only find a suitable venue, we have plans to try and start a team in the state capital Cuernavaca - unfortunately, finding such a venue is proving extremely difficult, as green space is near-non-existent in the over-developed city."

Meanwhile, five schools in Mexico City have included cricket as an activity on their timetables. Wood said the NCA was targeting the 7-10 age range. "Volunteer coaches are going into the schools to act as instructors, both to the children directly and to the teachers working there. We are in the process of delivering 10 Rapido cricket sets from the ICC to the schools"

Among all of this, the Indian expatriate dominated Tigres de Bengala claimed the first title of the busy Mexico City season thrashing the previously dominant Reforma to clinch the pre-Christmas Brian Gay Trophy.

A weakened Tigres de Bengala, needing to win well to negate Reforma's net run-rate advantage gained over the league season, removed Reforma for just 99 from their 25 overs.

Led by opener, Lal Singh, Tigres won after just 11 overs, despite Reforma captain Den Choudhuri's four wickets. Tigres started agressively smashing 40 runs from its first four overs.

Kaohsiung cricket kings of Taiwan



Kaohsiung CC © Cricinfo Ltd
Kaohsiung CC retained their status as unofficial champions of Taiwan after winning the island's main cricket event, the 11-a-side 15-over Taiwan Cup for the second successive year early last month.

The southern city revelled in home town conditions to finish undefeated in its preliminary round matches before beating Formosa CC in the final on the Sunday after the latter had beaten fellow Taipei Cricket Association in the semi-final.

Three of Taiwan's five formal clubs entered the competition played in a near empty baseball stadium, peppered with mystified locals for whom, bar one Taiwanese player, Arthur Chen, the game remains a Commonwealth expatriate oddity.

The highly social yet competitive Taiwanese cricket scene consists of 5-6 two-day tournaments a year played to either six or 11-a-side rules. When the annual sixes tournament was held in October in Taichung, a scratch team of English teachers from the central city of Chiayi surprised all by winning the 14 team event against all-comers, including a rugby team.

Attempts to build upon its devoted player base are stymied by the transient nature of the expatriate population who are mainly employed on short-term contracts.

Its clubs are active on the Asian sixes circuit, travelling as far as Phuket, while Formosa CC has been a regular at the Shanghai Sixes.

In what possibly unique to the Taiwanese game, day-night cricket will come to East Asia on March 11/12 when an 11-a-side tournament is held under lights.

For more information on club cricket in Taiwan, please visit the following websites:

Formosa Cricket Club
Kaohsiung CC
Taipei Cricket Association

In the coming weeks: cricket on ice from Estonia; we preview next month's ACC Emerging Nations tournament in Bangkok; feature domestic news from Belize, the Cayman Islands and elsewhere and report on European escapades down under plus much more. If you would to provide news from your country or comment on any aspect of this column, please email Tony Munro on bttwcricinfo@yahoo.com.au.

Tony Munro is Cricinfo's Beyond the Test World correspondent, and Ronnie Kintu writes for the New Vision paper in Kampala