Batting for the Middle Kingdom

Batting for the Middle Kingdom
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Review

Cricket is especially rich in evocative sounds — the thwack of leather on willow or the gasp of a thousand spectators as another delivery beats the bat — so what is all this excited foreign babbling we hear in this programme?

“It’s not cricket”, you might say. But it is. This is a game being played on Astroturf in the pouring rain by a Chinese women’s team in Shenyang. Between snatches of bamboo flute and urban ambience, Fred Dove meets and talks to Chinese cricketers (including Jiang Shuyao, who plays in the UK) and officials about the rising popularity of this quintessentially English game in the Middle Kingdom.

The Chinese hope to compete at Test level by 2020. And the increased revenue they would bring to the game might help them do just that.

Summary

Fred Dove reveals why the quintessentially English sport of cricket is finding new fans in China. The game's popularity there seems to stem from Chinese-born Jiang Shuyao's debut appearance for Cleethorpes Cricket Club in 2012, and with an increasing number of budding players donning their whites, the fledgling Chinese Cricket Association has announced it expects the national side to achieve test match status by 2020. Fred explores efforts at grass-roots level to get cricket taught in the country's schools, and discovers why a club in Liaoning province is fast becoming the proving ground for star players of the future.
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