Cricket on the upswing in Asia Pacific

Cricket is one of the oldest games in the world and it continues to thrive today in Special Olympics!

Cricket in Asia Pacific

Special Olympics Thailand athletes together with Cricket Association Thailand Chief Executive Mr. Mohideen A Kader (3rd from left) and Special Olympics Thailand National Director Mrs. Rachaniwan Bulakul (3rd from right).

One of the oldest games in the world, Cricket was introduced to Special Olympics in the mid 2000s. It is becoming one of the most popular sports in the Movement, with 81,000 athletes and growing. The majority of these athletes comes from the sub continent, where Cricket is not just a sport; it’s a religion. The first international Special Olympics cricket tournament was hosted in India in 2006. 

Since 2012, the Asia Pacific region has embarked on a goal to increase the number of cricket playing athletes to 100,000 by the end of 2015. To introduce cricket in Special Olympics countries, the Asia Pacific office is working with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), International Cricket Council, East-Asia Pacific Council and local Cricket associations. These partnerships will pave the way to assist Special Olympics programs in resources like equipment, training facilities and qualified coaching, for the athletes to experience training and competition opportunities.

Progress in the region

Special Olympics Philippines athletes and partners in one of their first Cricket games.

Since April 2013, Special Olympics Thailand, Philippines and Samoa have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with their respective national Cricket Councils. According to Mike Devaraajan, Sports Manager for Special Olympics Asia Pacific: “We are expecting more programs to be involved by the 3rd quarter of 2012.  At present we are working with Fiji and Malaysia towards a partnership with the local councils.”  
Cricket is also one of the competition sports in the 2013 Special Olympics Asia Pacific Regional Games in Newcastle, Australia, at the end of this year. 
Explains Mike: "The aim is to offer more Special Olympics athletes a chance play Cricket, giving equal opportunities for all.” 

Playing the Game

Cricket has three formats:

 1. Test Cricket: The traditional format of the game, played over five days in traditional white sportswear. Now seen as time consuming by the current generation.
2. One Day Internationals (ODIs): a form of cricket matches developed in the 1970s, where the match is completed in a shorter amount of time compared to the five days for Test Cricket. Also known as ‘Pyjama Cricket’, as the teams wore coloured tops for the first time and the matches were played under stadium lights.
3. Twenty20: This newest addition to Cricket is a style first seen in England for professional inter county teams. It was introduced by the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2000. A Twenty20 game is completed in about three hours, each innings last around 75 - 90 minutes (with a 10–20-minute interval), thus bringing the game closer to the timespan of other popular team sports.
Source: Wikipedia
Special Olympics has adapted the Twenty20 style for play. Click here for the main differences in the rules.

The Origins of Cricket

Cricket is said to have originated in the 16th century with international matches being played since 1844.
There is really no official documentation as to when or even where Cricket was played. What’s known is that Cricket started out as a child's game but the adult version of the game was said to have started in the 17th century.

It is speculated that Cricket is a takeoff of a game called Bowls or Lawn Bowling; the slight variation uses a bat to keep the ball from reaching the target, almost similar to baseball.
Today, Cricket is still a major sport that attracts players, spectators and media interest. The International Cricket Conference (ICC) has expanded the development of the game and it hopes to produce more national teams that are capable of competing at the highest level.
Source: Wikipedia