Cricket’s media-led popularity has taken it into new territories. From Afghanistan to China, countries which knew nothing of cricket’s appeal twenty years ago have become members of the ACC and ICC. Cricket has become globalised to the extent that membership of the ICC has doubled in ten years.
The potential number of people exposed to cricket within Asia alone has gone from 750 million to almost 2.5 billion. Much of this increased figure is due to the emergence of China and truly, cricket could not be called a global game without the participation of the world’s most populous country. China’s tremendous resources could well see them make huge developmental strides in a relatively short period of time. Our Chief Executive and Development Officers have been tireless in their efforts to create the vital basics of a playing culture and infrastructure in the fledgling cricketing countries.It has been an eventful 12 months for cricket in Asia.
It began with the historic series between Pakistan and India in Pakistan and concluded with the return matches between these sides in India. Our sport should take immense pride in the way that it has brought these two nations closer together. Both countries welcomed their visitors with open arms and the matches provided a feast of entertainment for tens of thousands of spectators and millions of television viewers around the world.
The low point of the year was the Tsunami of 26 December. The tragic impact that this had in the region will never be forgotten. News of the young cricketers lost to the Tsunami in Chennai and the utter devastation of Galle in Sri Lanka united the cricket world like never before. The Asian Cricket Council reacted rapidly in drawing together a side containing the continent’s best players to take on an ICC XI in the World Cricket Tsunami Appeal Match in Melbourne.
The memory of Sri Lanka’s year will undoubtedly dwell on the devastation of the Tsunami and the relief efforts that followed. Sri Lanka still recorded a positive record for the year, losing only two of eight Test matches and five of twenty-three ODIs and its players showed dignity in taking a lead role in helping the survivors.Oman announced itself on the international stage in qualifying for the ICC Trophy ahead of more experienced rivals and Malaysia acted as an impressive host of the ICC World Cup Qualifying Series, an event for which Kuwait and Qatar were both surprise qualifiers.
This will also go down in history as the year that China joined the international cricket family