Test Match Sofa
Durham formalise growing China link
By Tim Wellock
China and Chester-le-Street might not sound like obvious bedfellows, but Durham have entered into a partnership with the Shanghai Cricket Association.
In cricket’s terminology a chinaman is a left-arm spinner’s googly – something as rare as Chinese cricketers. But that could be about to change, with Durham’s help.
A four-strong delegation from the Shanghai Association have visited the Emirates Durham ICG and their president, Yiyi Chen, signed a document with Durham’s chairman, Clive Leach.
Leach said: “This will put Durham in the vanguard of the growth of cricket in China. The Shanghai Cricket Association are leading the game’s development over there and we have been chosen to help them move forward.
“China has done extraordinarily well in the last 20 years. They learn very quickly. There are 27m people in Shanghai with 28,000 students and they are very sports-centric. Cricket is taking off and it’s beneficial for us to be involved.”
There has long been a Shanghai Cricket Club for expatriates, but the association was formed only four years ago and is developing the sport in schools from primary level upwards and into universities.
The partnership was initiated by a conversation Durham’s chief executive, David Harker, had with Yanhong Bi, who works for a Newcastle-based company called Beyond Management, who facilitate relations between England and China.
“She did some work on our behalf and when the university over there expressed great enthusiasm we took it from there,” said Harker. “I was aware that the Chinese women’s team had done well in the Asia Cup and the men’s team also play in it.
“We have always prided ourselves on being a progressive club and we want to help to promote and develop the game in China. I would be delighted if they produced a player good enough to play for Durham, but that’s not the motivation.
“At the moment Shanghai have only two Level Two coaches, who absolutely love what they are doing. There could be opportunities there for some of our players in the future.
“On the commercial front we could export our expertise and sell some playing kit. But we’re not trying to follow the football model of opening a café on the high street and selling shirts.”
Two 18-year-old Chinese players spent time at Chester-le-Street this summer and Durham’s academy coach, John Windows, said: “They were brilliant in the indoor nets, but when we put them into a friendly match they didn’t know what to do.
“They had learnt from watching videos and
and we were really impressed by their technical skills and athleticism. Hopefully they will send more players over and we will be able to fast track their match experience.”
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