Wed, Oct 02, 2013 - Page 19 News List

Sixes competitions not enough for Taiwan’s cricketers

GROW OR PERISH:Cricket has been played in Taiwan for years without flourishing, but restrictions imposed by baseball grounds and schedules aren’t the main problems

By Grant Dexter  /  Staff reporter

The Darling Daredevils cricket team pose for a picture before their match against Chang Jung Christian University on April 21.

Photo: Caitlin Robinson

Players traveled to Chiayi City this weekend for the 14th edition of the national cricket sixes competition organized by the Chinese Cricket Development Association (CCDA), but the future for the sport in Taiwan remains uncertain.

Taipei City’s Pakistan Cricket Club completed their fourth tournament victory in a hard-fought battle with defending champions the Taiwan Stars, but will the result have any lasting significance? Will Rehan Naeem’s two wickets be recalled as the turning point in the match? Will the restrictive bowling of Shoaib Tanweer be talked about at future matches? Will Amjad Zafar be able to tell the story of his final over when he conceded only seven runs to seal victory? Will the Cobras look back fondly on their first appearance as a club? Will the Royals and Scunners be sanctioned for turning up short or not turning up at all?

Cricket faces numerous challenges: taking on a baseball-mad sporting environment, navigating the political minefield of recognition, promotion and funding, holding on to its ephemeral player base and finding a proper field to play on. None of these challenges are going to be overcome in a short time.

There have been sporadic advances over the past decade, but not a lot has changed significantly. Cricket is still played primarily by expat Indians, Pakistanis and South Africans on the red sand of baseball fields over intense, weekend-long tournaments. It is beginning to suffer from the often unrecognized inevitability: If it does not grow, it will die.

The challenges it faces are not insurmountable, but they do require a change in approach. One thing that has changed dramatically is the emergence of a rivalry in the women’s game. Chiayi City’s Darling Daredevils team, managed by South African Mary Mullan-Christie, met Greater Tainan’s Chang Jung Christian University (CJCU) in a series of three matches, which was won 2-1 by CJCU. Their best player, all-rounder Ma Yi-ru, has added boundary hitting to her repertoire and led the side to victory.

It might be the political environment that poses the greatest challenge to cricket’s progress, which is probably true globally as well as locally.

There are currently three governing bodies for the game, the CCDA, the Taipei Cricket Federation (TCF) and the Chinese Taipei Cricket Association (CTCA), which is the national body. Andrew Carrick heads the CCDA and is the man most responsible for the matches that get played around the island. Vincent Wang runs the TCF from Taipei Physical Education College and Chen Tai-sheng set up the CTCA. However, for all the acronyms, there is not much recognized authority.

The political challenge to overcome is that a recognized hierarchy needs to be established. The CTCA is nominally in control, as it has the recognition of the Taiwan Olympic Committee and the Asian Cricket Council, but they command almost no respect from the clubs. The TCF has a shot at establishing the game in Taipei — a crucial element to see real development — with a tournament planned for next month and a league on the cards for December.

Whatever the playing details, the issue of hierarchy and proper authority remains most vital. Too many other sports in the nation are beset with issues because there are too many organizations all doing their own thing.

That might be fine for soccer, which will always have a player base and something akin to grass to run around on, but it will be terminal for cricket, which requires much more dedication in terms of administration and infrastructure.

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