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Cricket in the Philippines

While it may be no comfort to President Chris Hartley and other officials of the Philippine Cricket Association, it took the same force that brought down Asian governments to slow the progress of cricket in the former Spanish and American colony.

When the Asian financial crisis struck, the PCA enjoyed a stable league structure and a regular programme of visits to and from overseas clubs.

Now PCA officials hope the likely attainment of ICC Affiliate status in June will help regain the ground cricket had made in its 30+ year existence.

Hartley laments that Filipino cricket is displaying wounds during the current season from the withdrawal of foreign labour and capital associated with the down-turn in Asian economies.

"The numbers of the pre-Asian currency crisis era have not been seen. We're struggling this season with only two regular playing teams. It takes time to re-build especially when the organisational structure of the various teams disappears - but I'm working on it."

The cricket season is dictated by the seasonal weather conditions and generally commences at the beginning of October and concludes at the end of April.

Australians, New Zealanders, British, South Africans, Zimbabweans, Indians and Pakistanis comprise the majority of foreign nationals playing cricket in Manila. There are no full Filipino nationals playing cricket presently, however, there are some half Filipino/half foreign national players. The Filipinos who do play have generally learnt the game while schooling in England or Australia.

Games this season have, as always, been played at the Nomads Sports Club, the traditional home of cricket in Manila. Usually games are played on Sundays of 25 overs per side duration. The Club was founded in 1914, with the earliest cricket being played by existing members in the 1960s.

Ground facilities consist of an artificial grass matting wicket on a partially prepared/rolled grass strip. The playing field is shared with rugby, football and numerous other sports and consequently preparation and maintenance of the pitch is restricted. Also, because of this batting is permitted at one end only.

Other facilities such as changing rooms and bar facilities are provided by the club.

An internal match between Nomads club members in October kicked off the season followed by games between it and Manila's other remaining club, India/Pakistan played each Sunday. These have been the main cricket played in Manila this Filipino season.

Nomads toured Hong Kong on October 28-31, winning both matches. In the first gane it compiled 218 runs from 35 overs before the visitors took advantage of humid conditions, bowling out the HKCC for 196 after it had crumbled to 6-90.

Big hitting from Keith Christensen saw Nomads total 235 in 35 overs before HKCC stumbled to 190.

Following the tour, Nomads played a visiting Royal Australian Navy vessel - HMAS Adelaide on November 7. Nomads posted a respectable 119 from 25 overs, considering damp conditions and a slow outfield. The sailors held on, winning by a single wicket in the last over.

The season went into recess over Christmas/New Year, recommencing on January 16. Since then there has been a best-of-three one day series - Nomads vs. India - which the Indians won 2-1.

Unfortunately, the annual reciprical visit by Hong Kong CC and a planned visit by the Korea CC have been cancelled.

On the positive side, Bahrain's Gulf Air CC will be in Manila on 11-12 March, during which time it will participate in the annual Manila Sixes tournament on the Saturday and a 35-over-per-side one day game on the Sunday. Further boosts will come in the form of a visit from Singapore CC (May 19-21) and potentially Kowloon CC (Hong Kong).

The Sixes will see four teams from Manila and two from Gulf Air. Gulf Air are annual tourists to Manila, visiting for the first time in the late 1980's. Their tour to the Philippines occurs early April each year and co-incides with the annual Manila six-a-side competition. This tournament is also keenly contested and the annual six-a-side competition was won this year by the "Goodmen of Manila" team.

An annual home and away series with the Hong Kong Cricket Club has occurred for approximately the previous 30 years. A Philippine based team tours Hong Kong at end of October and the reciprocal HKCC tour of Manila occurs on or about the Chinese New Year in February each year. The annual tournament with HKCC has a long tradition and is keenly contested. The HKCC currently hold the tournament trophy.

An annual ANZAC day cricket match between Australian and New Zealand cricketers, organised by the P.C.C., the Australian and New Zealand Association in conjunction with the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce and Nomads Sports Club, occurs at the end of April. Australia presently holds the ANZAC cup.

During the past 20 years various teams from around South East Asia including Australia and Japan have toured and played cricket at Nomads Sports Club.

The 1998-99 season was a tightly contested competition with the Indian cricketing team prevailing in the final held in April last year.

The competing teams were ANZACs, Good Men of Manila CC, Mandala's Mob, Alabang CC and Indian cricketing team.

The Philippines Cricket Association welcomes visiting teams.
If your club would like to visit, please contact Chris Hartley:
+63-2-811 2971 (p)
+63-2-811 2071 (f)
cjh@dls.com.ph