The Cricket Fever is in the air with players from across the globe participating in the IPL, but have you ever wondered why a competitive nation like China doesn't play cricket?
In India, cricket is not just a game, it’s a religion and the god is none other than Sachin Tendulkar. It isn’t just Indians who think that he is the best; Sachin Tendulkar is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket, which is a massive deal since cricket isn’t even an Indian sport.
The British brought the sport to India. The sport began in the late 16th century, originated in southeast England. The first authentic reference is dated Monday, 17th January 1597. Cricket was believed to be a little boys’ game and was acknowledged as an adult sport in 1611. Village cricket developed by the middle of the 17th century and the first-ever ‘county team’ was formed. The first game amongst these teams was played in 1709.
By the first half of the 18th century, cricket became the leading sport in London and the south-eastern countries of England. In 1774, the first laws of cricket were made and amended when innovations such as lbw, a 3rd stump, the middle stump, and a maximum bat width were added by the Star and Garter Club. The members of this club were the founders of the famous Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord’s in 1787.
Cricket was introduced in North America when the English colonies settled there in the early 17th century and were spread across the globe in the 18th century. West Indians were introduced to the sport through colonies, and India by the British East India Company mariners. The sport became known in Australia when the colonization began in 1788. It reached New Zealand and South Africa in the early 19th century. When we talked about all these big countries, did you see one major country missing from the list? Yes, China. Have you ever seen a Chinese team play in any International Cricket leagues? Have you wondered why is it that China doesn’t play cricket?
Reason 1: Olympics
While you may have noticed that Chinese people are pretty good at sports, how come we’ve never heard of them participating in any tournaments? Well, for starters, they are too focused on the Olympics. The people of China and the government give a lot of attention to sports included in the Olympics. Cricket is not an Olympic sport; therefore, the Chinese do not pay attention to it. Even though China has its national cricket team, it is not considered a part of the regular international cricket playing nation.
Since the Cold War ended, China has been a top competitor at the Summer Olympic Games. China has bagged over 204 gold, 148 silver, and 134 bronze medals at the Olympics and is in second place in total medals while the United States sits at the first position. China even has a state-driven approach towards international sporting competitions, designed to boost athletic success through government policies and programs.
Provisions for Olympics
China’s General Administration of Sports (GASC) announced The Olympic Glory-Winning Program Guidelines 2001-2010 in 2002. This program also included “Project 119”, a program aimed at improving outcomes in the underwhelming performance in sports like swimming and rowing. In 2016, GASC received government funding of $651 million for the preparations of the Olympics. In the same year, China’s leader put forward the National Construction Plan of Winter Sports Infrastructure. According to the plan, the goal was to build 650 skating rinks and 800 ski resorts by 2022.
That’s the kind of dedication China has towards the Olympics and being the number one at the Olympics. Therefore, cricket does not get much recognition in China. They simply do not want to waste time on a sport that is not an Olympic sport and would rather focus on the sports which will enhance their reputation in the world. As far as we can see, concentrating on the Olympic sports only has been beneficial to them.
Reason 2: China Was Never a British Colony
Another reason for China not playing cricket is that China was never colonized by the British. Britishers ruled in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, etc. It is evident that wherever they went, they took the sport with them. They taught the people of these countries how to play cricket and popularized it to a great extent. We have all seen Lagaan; I don’t have to tell its influence on India’s youth.
British Kings used to play and organize a lot of cricketing matches for entertainment and bring their culture to the countries under their rule. Chinese people prefer playing sports like Badminton and Table Tennis. Since the British never ruled in China, the people had no one to teach them the sport or make it popular. It’s also important to note that China isn’t a former commonwealth country so there were no ties between them and the other cricket-playing countries.
Reason 3: Not Enough Recognition
The last reason for China not playing cricket is that cricket is not the most popular sport on the globe. It is very relevant in India and a few other countries. Sports like Football, tennis, badminton, etc. are well known around the Earth. Initially, only 22 countries used to play cricket, but when the International Cricket Council was set up, around 100 countries were connected with the council.
Making cricket popular in a massive country like China was difficult, especially without any cricketing culture in China. While the Shanghai Cricket Club was in action from 1858 to 1948, it did not get much recognition as an official team.
China Did Play Cricket
China did take part in the 2009 Asian Cricket Council Trophy Challenge, it lost all of the matches. China then took part in the 2014 ACC Twenty20 Cup in the United Arab Emirates but lost again against Afghanistan by nine wickets after being bowled out for only 37. It was a matter of national humiliation. Ideally, the next step would be to invest in greater resources and training into the sport to get better results, but it is highly doubtful if a proud country like China will divest resources from the development of Olympic sports and sportsmen that bring them Global Domination.