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September 14, 2006
Malcolm Speed, chief executive ICC, is heading to China next week, excited at the prospects for the game in a country where interest is growing rapidly. It will be Speed's first visit to the world's most populous country. He will be accompanied by Shaharyar Khan, chairman PCB, who has been appointed to chair a "Committee to Evaluate China."
"This is my first visit to China as chief executive officer and it is an exciting prospect both personally and professionally," said Speed. "I was given an insight into the China Cricket Associations plans during an Asian Cricket Council seminar in Kuala Lumpur in June and although those plans are still in their early stages they are still very impressive.
"No one is under any illusions that the widespread development of the game in China will be something that takes place overnight. However, the enthusiasm for the game in China appears to be both tangible and growing rapidly and if that enthusiasm can be harnessed then that is great news for cricket not only there but on a worldwide basis."
China joined the Asian Cricket Council in 2004 and the ICC in 2005 and authorities there have drawn up a comprehensive development plan with coaching, funding and facilities in place to fast-track the one-day game. Shaharyar said he had already met with Chinese officials and was impressed by what he had heard.
"I have been impressed by the rigour and the scale of their strategic thinking," he said. "The opportunities they potentially offer their countrymen is immense, the potential they offer the cricket world is immense."
They will be in Beijing and Shanghai for five days, assessing the standard of play, coaching and facilities established so far and meeting Zhang Xiaoning , vice-chairman Beijing Olympic Games Organising Committee, among others.
"We think this is a sport in which Chinese could do very well because this is a game that emphasises skills, tactics and team work," said Zhang, who is also chairman of the Chinese Cricket Association. The CCA's goal is to have 15,000 cricketers by 2009. These numbers are forecast to rise to 60,000 by 2012 and 150,000 by 2020.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?