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Chinese cricket. It sounds like an inside joke, something born of an obvious anomaly; something almost as inconceivable as French cricket (which is why we call the children's schoolyard variety of the game precisely that). And when the grown-ups finally come out to play, we still haven't quite forgotten the French, choosing to attribute to them the slapstick of an unintended edge. In fact, if one were to make a picture of the French purely from cricketing terms, it would appear that they are a spectacularly clumsy and hilarious people.
But what to make of this thing called Chinese cricket? On the face of it, it would appear that they are just as ripe for the picking as the French. But it's not going to work, trying to call a bungled reverse sweep, for example, a Chinese Chop. Because the Chinese actually play cricket. In increasingly large numbers. They might find out.
Sure, the ACC tournaments they have participated in thus far have found the team clinging to the bottom of the tables with the tenacity of an overstuffed pot-sticker, but rest assured, when that dread day comes that China is granted full ICC member status, they are not going to be the new sacrificial Bangladeshis on the block. Plans are afoot for the future of Chinese cricket, ambitious plans the likes of which make Mao's Great Leap Forward look like a piddling game of hopscotch.
If the hype is to be believed, China will very soon be beating us at our own game. It stands to follow that the game itself, as the Chinese cricket board starts inevitably to flex its muscle, will likely see some important changes. It would be worth our while, then, to start getting acquainted with what some of these might be.
The use of the word "chinaman" to refer to slow left-arm bowlers who spin the ball into right-hand batsmen to be pulled up for review.
If they aren't already, Chinese cricket fans, all 11 of them, are going to be dumbfounded at the discovery of the term. Suspicious looks are going to be cast at the ICC, and the Chinese people will be forgiven for asking themselves if this whole being-introduced-to-cricket thing is not the start of the Opium Wars all over again - only, this time the poisoning of the moral fabric of society recast in an even more deviously addictive form.
The BCCI to finally meet its match.
There's that old Newtonian law that states that for every Indian action there is an equal and opposite Chinese one (and vice versa). The BCCCATS (Board of Control for Cricket in China, And Then Some) will soon have its rivals across the mountains eating out of its hand. The story goes that way back in 1962, when a Chinese invasion, a real one, of India seemed imminent, some people living in cities close to the border wasted no time in starting to learn Chinese languages, with an eye to getting a leg up over others under the new regime. That's how much fear they inspire. Can you imagine the BCCI going against the Chinese government-backed cricket board against the use of the DRS? Neither can I.
The IPL to be devoured by the CPL.
In an ironic twist of fate for the IPL, the tournament itself will be auctioned off to the highest Chinese bidder, who will then transplant the show to China. Let's face it, China is the bigger and badder of the two emerging economic colossi. The contracts at the CPL will be even bigger (Chris Gayle, I'm looking at you). And in place of an annoying grey Volkswagen Passat on display as a prize, expect something more exciting. Like tickets aboard the new Chinese spaceship being built to rival Virgin Galactic. Finally, the chance to see Sreesanth disappear into orbit once and for all. Add to that a far superior opening ceremony, with Shah Rukh Khan nowhere in sight, and you really can't go wrong.
To see cricket being played on the Roof of The World.
Yes, cricket in Tibet. The Potala in the background, hordes of fake Chinese Tibetan monks thronging the stadium to show the world just how great the real Tibetans, wherever they are, have it.
The Dharamshala cricket authorities in India to become indignant and claim that their stadium is the real representative of sexy high-altitude cricket.
His Holiness The Dalai Lama will speak out. The Chinese will ignore his pleas. The sponsors will have a field day with all the attention.
China to win the World Cup.
Their manifesto claims that they only aim to qualify for 2015, but don't be fooled. You have to understand that Chinese cricketers will be playing for more than just pride or money. They will be playing for The Party. (The fear of God, incidentally, has nothing on fear of The Party.) And there will be no stopping them.
The Anti-Corruption Unit to be ecstatic.
Due to the aforementioned knee-trembling fear of Big Brother and his long stick, expect the Chinese game to be the cleanest around. So clean, in fact, that the ICC will insist that all major international matches be played in China, knowing that no player, Chinese or otherwise, will risk the firing squad for a few quid extra.
No more neutral umpires.
Umpires will find it increasingly difficult to deny Chinese appeals during matches held in China, due to the dawning realisation that the old joke, that a billion Chinese cannot be wrong, is no laughing matter at all.
The Chinese are coming. Do you know how to say "left-arm unorthodox" in Mandarin yet?
R Rajkumar is a writer who splits his time between London, Coimbatore and the part of his mind that is dedicated to the making up, and the subsequent revising, of the cricket team he knows should have been picked instead of the one that just was
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