Clicking cricket in China
Hong Kong 25 all out and an eight wicket defeat for Thailand. Yes we are still talking cricket here as it unfolds in the Asian Games in China.
A sport that has media attention galore, cricket has made its debut with somewhat of a bang in the Games. Teams from Singapore, Maldives and Afghanistan are competing for honours along with the veterans from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh among others.
Interestingly, cricket did feature in the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the gold medal was won by South Africa who defeated Australia by four wickets. New Zealand won bronze. This time though, it will be a battle between national sides of emerging countries and second-string teams from the Asian giants have begun their campaign in the 4800 seater stadium in Guangzhou.
According to the latest reports though, crowds are apparently keeping away from the matches despite officials claiming a complete sell out. The uncanny similarity to events on the same lines during CWG was evident. In any case, someone from the HT sports department was perhaps apt to compare Lawn Bowls to India with Cricket to China.
It will take time for the sport to increase its fan base here and elsewhere in the continent as with all things new.
So even as teams slug it out on the field, matching stroke for stroke and knocking timber with the leather, to announce that cricket at Asian Games is the birth of renaissance for the sport in the continent would be jumping the gun just a bit. Lets take each sport take its due course although impetus would be necessary and watch it grow and not indulge in tall claims and predictions.
By Shubhodeep Chakravarty