As I mentioned earlier I’ve visited Chinese schools and colleges, where I saw students playing cricket. They know about the game and, more importantly, they were enjoying it. Hopefully this will have a domino effect and more Chinese children will start playing cricket.
China has around 50 players in their main camp who play cricket all year round. We’ve sent coaches there to work with them. The Asian Cricket Council also looks after the affairs of Chinese cricket.
They are very talented _ the more they practice, the better they will get. It all comes down to discipline, something the Chinese seem to possess intrinsically. They have produced positive results and I have always been astonished at how quickly they have adapted and learnt the things I taught them. A couple of years ago, I invited 8 Chinese players to stay at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore Here they had the opportunity to play matches, improve themselves and, at the same time, to interact with first class cricketers.
I go to China whenever it is necessary. However, because communication has become so advanced and efficient due to the Internet, I remain closely connected with the progress of the Chinese cricketers and coach them through video calls as well as through telephone. The Pakistan Embassy in China takes great interest in the development of Chinese cricket and I must thank them, as well as the Government of Pakistan, for their continued support in sending me to China to coach the players.
I am very satisfied with their level of progress, at how, in a short time span, they have understood the basics of the game and learnt how to play it well. This is a significant achievement since cricket, unlike other sports, is very technical and can be difficult to grasp. They have managed to successfully hit sixes, bowl leg breaks and off breaks.
I have had the pleasure of coaching a cricketer in the team who was a very good fast bowler. He developed an interest in leg break bowling, which is known to be one of the toughest skills to acquire in cricket. He has mastered the technique and now bowls leg break deliveries perfectly.
The Chinese team played against the Pakistan Under-19 team, which comprises of polished cricketers. While playing against them the Chinese cricketers hooked and pulled and played the full repertoire of shots. No doubt, they are an extremely hard working and determined team.
Among the lower ranked teams such as Bermuda, Jersey etc., China is the most striking for the reasons I have mentioned. They are in the process of putting a system in place. They are incorporating cricket at the school and college level, and their government is also supporting them resiliently. All of these are factors that are lacking in other lower tier teams. China possesses all the essential qualities that are required to excel at the game.
If cricket develops in China, Pakistan benefits immensely as China has the largest population in the world; so even if a fraction of that population picks up the game, we could export cricketing equipment and other related merchandise to them, which would be an important boost for our economy. Just imagine how much Pakistani businesses would gain even if nothing but sports goods were exported to China from here. It would create much needed employment as well. China is a huge market.
In view of the relationship we have with the Chinese, the Government of Pakistan should create a separate fund for Chinese cricket. It could be another dimension to the diplomatic ties between our countries. We could have an understanding with the Chinese for Pakistan to provide the infrastructure and the training to Chinese cricket in return for China agreeing to use only Pakistani cricketing equipment. We could also build a stadium in China which could be a second home of sorts for our players.
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