China, US onlookers at cricket's big bash

Hong Kong, February 13, 2011

They are the unconquered frontiers of cricket — giant nations with huge populations, but China and the United States can only look on from the sidelines as battle is joined at the World Cup.

The two nations together account for about 1.6 billion of the world’s population but they will be absent from a tournament featuring the game’s powerhouses plus minnows such as the Netherlands, Ireland and Canada.

It would be a mistake to draw too many parallels between the game in the world’s two biggest economies. Cricket has long been woven into the sporting fabric in America but it is only now taking its first faltering steps in China.

Some reports say the game was played in the American colonies nearly 300 years ago, according to the International Cricket Council’s website, and the United States was a destination for touring teams in the 19th century.

Previously on an upward trajectory, the team was last month relegated to division four of the ICC World Cricket League, but USA Cricket Association executive secretary John Aaron is upbeat about the future despite that setback.

“There is no doubt that the USA has the talent to compete on the world stage of cricket in division one matches. However, we lack the requisite facilities to compete nose-to-nose with our peers,” he told AFP.