The national cricket body (CTCSA) yesterday presented plans to develop the sport in Taiwan, with hints that an Asian Games bid might be on the horizon.
At a luncheon at the Orient Luxury Hotel in Chiayi City, CTCSA chairman Lu Jia-hong presented plans the association has to build cricket grounds in Yunlin County’s Mailiao Township.
The CTCSA said that the assistance of expat teams in Taiwan was crucial to its plans.
Taiwan has upward of 13 cricket clubs, but only one dedicated ground — the Yingfeng Cricket Ground in Taipei’s Songshan District.
Lu said that the association is focused on gaining Asian Cricket Council (ACC) affiliation, a process that Taiwan has already been through, before its status lapsed due to a lack of upkeep.
Asked about the Asian Games, Lu said yes, but politics would be the overriding factor for such a bid.
“Taiwan hosting Games is not about the sports, it’s about the politics,” he said through a translator. “So each time we bid for these events, it is about the politics.”
The Games are a four-yearly event run by the Olympic Council of Asia. The 2010 Games in Guangzhou, China, was the first time cricket — Twenty20 competitions for men and women — featured at the event and they were included at the 2014 Games in Incheon, South Korea.
However, cricket was dropped for the 2018 Games in Indonesia, although they are tipped to return in Hangzhou, China, next year.
A potential Taiwan bid — an effort that has ended in tears before — would be a long way off. The 2026 event is planned for Nagoya, Japan, before Doha 2030 and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in 2034. That means a bid for 2038 would be the next opportunity.
Taiwan bid for the 1998 and 2002 Games, but lost both. Bangkok hosted the 1998 event, while in 1995 Taiwanese officials — some of them in tears — staged a protest after Busan in South Korea beat Kaohsiung to host the 2002 edition.
The Olympic Council of Asia general assembly’s vote in Seoul was considered a major upset, with Taiwanese officials saying that the selection was due to pressure from China.
Taiwan’s Olympic committee had not replied before they closed for the weekend to questions seeking comment on the possibility of a 2038 bid.
Administrators of other sports are putting systems in place to prepare Olympic and Asian Games athletes.
The Central News Agency in January reported that staff and administrators at National Taiwan University were to introduce the nation’s first undergraduate program to train students for careers in international sports competition and management, with priority to be given to student athletes in individual sports at such event.
Lu also said that individual sports were more of a focus for Taiwan than team sports.
“The chances of Taiwan making a successful bid is higher for individual sports,” he said.
There have been previous forays into developing cricket in Taiwan. The Yingfeng venue was established through the efforts of the Taipei Cricket Federation. It is maintained by the Pakistan Cricket Club Taiwan, but has only an artificial wicket.
International competitions would require grass wickets to gain ACC affiliation, with two grounds required, according to the regional body’s affiliation criteria.
In 2014, the national association — under the leadership of the late Chen Tai-sheng — announced an agreement to use a ground in Kaohsiung, including plans for a cricket academy, while a separate organization released plans for a venue in Chiayi City.
Neither came to fruition, although the national association under Chen staged at least one competition in Kaohsiung at the time.
Chen in 2012 oversaw Taiwan’s entry into the ACC as an associate member, but its status has since lapsed.
The ACC said at the time that once associates fulfill International Cricket Council requirements, development funds would be made available.
Meanwhile, Lu said that the expat teams would have to be under the CTCSA umbrella if they want to stage international tournaments, a sentiment that raised a few hackles.
“Because the organization is not registered, if there are ... international tournaments, they cannot be organized by Taiwan Cricket, Taiwan Cricket can maybe implement it, but it has to be organized by the CTCSA to be internationally recognized,” he said, referring to the unofficial group that expats in Taiwan play under.
Duane Christie of the Taiwan Daredevils team was diplomatic about the situation.
“The CTCSA has a very ambitious plan with their sports field project, which will include two cricket fields,” Christie said. “I look forward to seeing their progress with this project.”
However, his wife, Mary Mullan-Christie — who runs the Taiwan Darling Daredevils team — expressed reservations.
“Looking at the drawing plans, I can’t help getting excited that the development of cricket in local schools and universities might become a reality again,” she said. “My worry is that, timewise, the unveiling of this completed cricket ground would need to coincide with the culmination of local player development.”
“So, my deepest wish is that one of us, from the current Taiwan Cricket playing community, could be included in the association’s decisionmaking body in order to facilitate communication and ensure that, in the end, local cricket development reaps the rewards of this ambitious plan,” she said.
The Christies were the driving force behind last year’s Taipei T10 League.
Additional reporting by Jason Pan
Grant Dexter is an administrator at Taiwan Cricket
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