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Yuvraj Singh is China's ban qiu cover boy

The left-hand batsman is on the cover of China's first official Mandarin book on ban qiu - cricket - being distributed to coaches in schools and universities across nine provinces in the north, south and east. Reshma Patil reports.

world Updated: Mar 29, 2011 01:16 IST
Reshma Patil

Yuvraj Singh is the poster boy of cricket in China, but most Chinese cricketers still don't know it.

The left-hand batsman is on the cover of China's first official Mandarin book on ban qiu - cricket - being distributed to coaches in schools and universities across nine provinces in the north, south and east.

Asked to name the Indian hero on his book's cover, the author Liu Jingmin was stumped.

"I don't know who he is. Somebody took the photograph from the Internet," said Liu, a biomechanics professor and cricket coach at Tsinghua University.

Liu spent four years translating and creating Mandarin terms for cricket, with some help from Australian professionals. He's still searching for the Chinese equivalent of 'leg-bye'.

"I don't know who is the man on the cover," said Zhang Tian, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Cricket Association that provides the two-year-old book to coaches nationwide.

HT met three students practising cricket on a skating rink in Tsinghua, the first Chinese campus to introduce the sport. They have not heard of the 2011 World Cup that has millions of viewers riveted across the border.

"The World Cup is happening in India? India really beat Australia?" asked Liu, who was one of the first Chinese players handpicked in 2005 to train as a cricket coach.

A controlled internet and disinterested state media make the world of cricket inaccessible in China, though it aims to train 1,50,000 players by 2020, from 20,000 students today.

Both India and Pakistan have contributed coaches and equipment to develop cricket in China.

Pakistan's Rashid Khan coached the men's team.

Indian player Mamatha Maben coached the national Chinese women's team ahead of the Asian Games last year.

Ge Tao, the present coach of the womens' team, told HT he will cheer for India on Wednesday.

The sport is a five-year-old curiosity in China, where students and coaches are told to master the 'noble game' that may some day enter the Olympics.

"No cricket players to teach us, no television, no videos, so we learn with course material on our own," said Liu.

"We welcome Indian players to China to teach cricket and play with us."

Chinese officials say they hope for Indian support in sourcing cricket equipment as more schools join the batting order.