China created history recently by becoming the first country ever to host an Asian Games cricket tournament. Now, in the wake of that first, the country has expressed interest in staging the Asia Cup as well.
Confirming China's interest, the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) chief executive Syed Ashraful Huq, said, ""If our ACC board agrees, China will have its first full-fledged, major international tournament."
The ACC board is scheduled to convene on Dec 12 in order to decide the venue for the next Asia Cup. The choices being considered are either Guangzhou in China, Dhaka or either Dubai or Abu Dhabi in the UAE. "If you ask me where it should go, I don't know, my board would have to decide," Huq said. "But it would be good if it is played in a non-traditional place".
Huq observed that there were tremendous benefits to gain from holding a cricket tournament at new venues acoss the world. The move would spread awareness of the sport, bolster the profile of the venue ansd create a new market for cricket. In that respect, there would be no novelty in hosting the Asia Cup in either India, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh.
In November this year, China broke new ground when it hosted a cricket event as part of the Asian Games. The tournament was held at the Guangdog University of Technology, where the ground bore an 80-metre boundary, keeping in accordance with international standards. It also possesses seven pitches which were laid out about six months ago. Four of these were used to conduct 30 Twenty20 matches during the Games.
Huq said that Board for Control of Cricket in India's (BCCI) decision not to send a team for the tournament was ironical given that the Board's President Sharad Pawar (2005-2008) had made the initial pitch for cricket's inclusion in the Asian Games.
Both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh sent their A-teams to Guangzhou. Sri Lanka fielded a few former Test players like Jehan Mubarak and Malinga Bandara, and Bangladesh was captained by Mohammad Ashraful.