With cricket all set to make its Asian Games debut, the former Sri Lanka captain Bandula Warnapura, now a technical director with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), feels it is important for the game to do well here so that it can get an entry into the Olympics soon.
"If cricket does well at the Asian Games, it could be an Olympic event soon, so this debut is extremely important," Warnapura was quoted as saying in the China Daily.
However, apart from the ACC, which is in charge of conducting cricket during the 2010 Asian Games, most people including the local authorities here hardly have a clue on how to organise this passionate game of the sub-continent. So they have roped in Bangladesh groundsman Jashim Uddin to prepare the pitches for the event that has seen an upward surge in the sale of tickets.
Jashim said that it was a tough grind for him as the organisers did not know much about the game but he acknowledged that for a first-time effort the facilities were excellent. "It's been a tough road because (the Chinese organisers) didn't know what to do," he said.
The deputy competition director Wang Chenqu, who was also unaware of anything to do with the sport before taking up his job, said, "Even if we've never hosted cricket matches, we still have to plan things to the finest details. There are so many things we don't know but we are learning as we progress."
Meanwhile, the decision of the BCCI to not send an Indian squad for the Games gives the other sub-continental teams - Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh more advantage in Twenty20 cricket that commences with the women's competition tomorrow.
The Chinese women's team, coached by former India player Mamta Maben, is confident of winning a medal, since according to her China is making fast progress in this sport. The hosts take on Malaysia in the opening game before clashing with Pakistani eves in the same group A, which also includes Thailand.
Group B has Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Nepal and Japan. In the men's event that starts on November 21, the top three subcontinent teams – Khalid Latif-led Pakistan, Jehan Mubarak-captained Sri Lanka and Mohd Ashraful-skipper Bangladesh - have been seeded in the knock-out rounds along with Afghanistan, who qualified by winning the ACC T20 Cup.
China men's team and Malaysia would both qualify for the knock-out rounds irrespective of the result of their Group C clash as they are only two teams in the pool, while two out of three teams in Group D, Nepal, Hong Kong and Maldives, would advance.