China’s cricket chiefs are so keen to make a mark in next year’s Asian Games at home in Guangzhou that they have sent the women’s team to train in India.
The 15-member squad is learning the nuances of a sport unfamiliar in their country in the northern city of Mohali, where they are being hosted by the Punjab Cricket Association.
Team coach Mamatha Maben said cricket was virtually unknown in China a decade ago and it was not easy to find players.
“There are only a handful of women who play cricket in China and 15 of them are here,” Maben told local media. “They have the talent and the more exposure they get, the better they will become.”
In a Twenty20 tournament organized by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in Malaysia last year, China’s women reached the semifinals before losing to Thailand.
Maben, who took over in March, said the players were being taught only Twenty20 cricket since that format will be played at the Asian Games, where the sport is making its debut.
China gained automatic qualification in both the men’s and women’s competition by virtue of being the host.
While in India, the women will get a taste of big-time cricket when they watch world champion Australia take on India in Mohali on Nov. 2.
The women are in Mohali as the guests of PCA chief Inderjit Singh Bindra, an adviser with the International Cricket Council who is charged with making cricket a global sport. The ICC sees China as the next big market for cricket and regularly sends coaches and officials there to popularize the sport.