Tue, Dec 17, 2013 - Page 18 News List

FEATURE: Lack of funds keeps Chinese cricket on sticky wicket

AFP, BEIJING

The country’s only cricket stadium was built for the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, where there is no adult Chinese team to use it.

China’s men’s side meet mostly crushing defeats in international matches, but its women cricketers have occasionally fared better, notching victories against Malaysia and Thailand in 2010, before being on the wrong end of a 128-run thrashing from Pakistan. Nonetheless they are still ranked joint-bottom in Asia.

Terry Zhang of the CCA admitted that there were “no funds from the central government,” but that has not prevented China from investing in the game abroad — it has reportedly funded US$132 million worth of cricket facilities in the West Indies.

The loans were dubbed “cricket diplomacy” by Caribbean media, as Beijing seeks to win friends in a region where several countries still have diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Back in China, one of the nation’s top players, Zhang Yufei, described as the first Chinese cricketer to score a century in a competitive match is on the verge of retirement at just 21.

Zhang says his career may be over before it has even begun and he is preparing to start work at an engineering firm run by his father.

“There is no chance to make a living from cricket,” Zhang lamented.

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