Issues ahead for cricket despite 2014 inclusion

Guangzhou: The Asian Cricket Council hopes to have two cricket stadiums at Incheon in 2014 after the sport’s complicated debut on the Asian Games program at Guangzhou.

Despite some doubts about cricket being retained, Olympic Council of Asia officials have confirmed it will be among the 35 sports included on a reduced program at Incheon, South Korea, in four years time.

Now that cricket’s place is secure, ACC chief executive Ashraful Haque plans to ask South Korean officials later this week to consider more facilities for the 2014 competition.

Haque said the ACC will not be pressing Incheon for two facilities of the same scale as the brand new Guanggong Cricket Stadium at these games, but was more concerned about having two fields with two separate wicket squares to limit deterioration during competition.

“Of course we need proper dressing rooms, but they can build temporary stands around the cricket grounds in South Korea to avoid costs,” Haque told reporters in an interview Monday at the 6,500-seat cricket venue here. “If China can make this stadium in one year, Incheon has four years to build two,” venues.

The ACC had to schedule the women’s Twenty20 tournament from Nov. 13-19 and the men’s in the second week, from Sunday through Friday.

The tight scheduling led to a confusing scheduling, with Japan playing Nepal twice in the women’s group matches to determine semifinal qualifiers.

“It happened because of only one playing facility, but if we get two stadiums at Incheon we can organize both men and women events simultaneously in 15 days,” Haque said. “Here we had no choice but to finish the women’s event in a week and then had only one more (week) for the men’s event.”

While South Korea falls under the International Cricket Council’s East-Asia Pacific region, the ACC will be coordinating the Asian Games event in 2014.

Unlike regular international cricket matches, there was no television umpire at matches in Guangzhou to adjudicate on close calls. Several close run-out decisions could have gone either way.

“Hopefully we have television umpires at Incheon,’’ Haque said. “Here it was not possible because we had only one camera at square leg.”

Cricket, for a long time dubbed the ‘gentleman’s game,’ made its debut at the Asian Games without continental powerhouse India, which had lobbied in the past for the inclusion of sport.

“I don’t want to comment on their non-participation because it’s a matter between Indian Olympic Association and the cricket board,” Haque said. “I can only hope they change their minds in 2014.”

The ACC official said like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all had busy international schedules, but the other three nations still sent teams to Guangzhou.

“You don’t have to send your best available teams to such events because of other international commitments, but you can send your best available squad.”

Pakistan’s women last week won the first ever cricket gold awarded at the Asian Games. The men’s final is Friday.

Bureau Report