China, the latest entrant in international cricket scene, will receive a special grant of $ 400,000 as "development funding" to popularise the game in the world's most populous nation, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) announced.
The Chinese Cricket Association (CAA) has been assigned $ 400,000 in development funding "in order to accelerate cricket's growth in the People's Republic", ACC Chief Executive Syed Ashraful Huq said here in a statement.
While the Development Fund of ACC will contribute 200,000 dollars, the amount will be matched by the International Cricket Council's (ICC) which will use a Special Fund to promote cricket in China.
"This represents an opportunity for everyone involved with cricket in China," said ICC Chief Executive Malcolm Speed, who is currently leading a high-level delegation to Beijing to get first-hand information on China's efforts to develop cricket.
"There's been a very good start in China. This is a ten-year project and no one should be under any illusion that results will appear overnight," he said.
"Cricket in China is still very new and this funding from our two bodies is directed at strengthening the development structure for cricket as established by the state sporting administration," he said.
"As with any investment, timing is critical. China has gone from practically no cricket activity one year ago to 51 schools in Beijing and Shanghai playing the game, with close to 6,500 participants," Huq said.
In the 2006 season in China, the first in which cricket has been part of the school sports curriculum, there has been a U-15 Schools Competition in Beijing in July and in October the first Inter-Universities competition will be held at Tsinghua University, China's premier learning institution.
"This grant is special and substantial but in China they are not playing cricket with any thought of financial gain, they are playing cricket because once anyone has been exposed to 'The Noble Game', they are fascinated by it - coaches, players, and officials.
"This special funding is targeted at accelerating the growth process just when cricket is starting to gain some momentum," Huq said.
ICC Global Development Manager Matthew Kennedy noted that prior to the funding allocation, the ICC had been studying the matter for some time and appreciated that China because of its size and population is indeed a 'special case'.
"This is a new funding commitment outside of what the ACC provides already. We will be monitoring the situation closely and hope that the activity of China's cricketers and administrators helps them to bring cricket closer to the core of national sporting activity," Kennedy added.