Fri, Mar 09, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Pingtung to host cross-strait cricket

By Andrew Carrick  /  Contributing Reporter

Cricket in Taiwan is set to reach a new height tomorrow in Pingtung when the nation hosts a team from China for the first time.

The Shanghai Daredevils, the reigning Shanghai League Champions, are visiting and they hope to help promote the game in Taiwan by showing how far the game has developed in such a short space of time in China.

Shanghai Cricket Association representative Jon Newton, a former Taiwan Daredevils player, is looking forward to doing battle with his former side and also developing a close relationship with the Taiwanese side with an eye on future tournaments and the development of cricket on both sides of the -Taiwan Strait.

“I’m looking forward to playing against my Taiwanese brothers and I expect to see a higher standard of cricket played compared to the times when I was there in 2005,” Newton said, tongue in cheek.

Taiwan Daredevils have developed into a formidable side and they hope to show Shanghai just how high the standard now is on this side of the Strait.

New Taiwan Daredevils captain Jared Painter, a Sydney second-grade pace bowler, is expecting a close battle and he hopes to “ruffle a few feathers” with his bowling.

Newton retorted: “Well, Taiwan hasn’t seen our speedster Sanjay Anugula, known as the ‘Indian Express.’”

After being played in Taiwan for 12 years, cricket is still a sport that hardly gets recognized and it is always up against the popular sport of baseball when it comes to finding venues.

Taiwan Daredevils chairman Andrew Carrick has spent countless hours negotiating with the Greater Kaohsiung Government trying to find suitable venues for cricket, but to no avail.

However, a pitch at the Taiwan Sugar Corp factory on Fushin Road in Pingtung will host the showdown between the Daredevils tomorrow from noon until 7 pm, while the Pro ground on Fushin Road will host Sunday’s encounter from 10am until 5pm, thanks to the positive approach of Pingtung County government officials, who always welcome cricket to the city.

China has more than 1,000 youth cricket teams and Shanghai has about 450 players and about 40 teams, which they hope to increase by 300 percent by 2015.

The goal is for China to become an international playing nation. That only highlights how the sport is being left behind in Taiwan and how much work needs to be done.

The opening ceremony for the historic match will see the two teams exchange gifts and a carnival atmosphere is expected during the weekend, as the Shanghai Daredevils get their first taste of floodlit cricket tomorrow evening when two Twenty20 matches are scheduled be played.

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