Some corner of a football field is, for now, cricket in Phnom Penh

The ACC’s Mahboob Shah has been in Cambodia to train the country’s first batch of umpires. 44 university students as well as three PE teachers took part in umpiring and scoring programs. Following on, Rumesh Ratnayake was in Phnom Penh to assess local growth conditions. “There’s a fair amount of enthusiasm there no doubt, and cricket has a good chance of catching on,” he says.

The Cricket Association of Cambodia, members of the Asian Cricket Council since 2012 have yet to apply for ICC Affiliate Status. “That’s some way off yet,” says Rumesh, “the main thing is that they need to have access to a couple of proper grounds.” During his visit to Phnom Penh, Rumesh was taken by Association Vice President Manish Sharma to a site 10 km from the capital where a cricket ground is to be built this year. On land made available by the Olympic Committee on a 50-year lease, the ground is currently being levelled (“9.6 inches of 10 have been done and we expect the ground will be ready after the end of the rainy season in October,” says Mr. Sharma).

Rumesh Ratnayake in Phnom Penh

Thailand across the border are the model Cambodia is trying to emulate. “I have made it a point to attract locals to the game,” says the gregarious Mr. Sharma. In the past two and a half years he has reached out to 11 schools, with the CIA First International School and its German headmaster at the forefront of bringing young Cambodians to the game. Part of the attraction of cricket in Cambodia, as in China, is that it provides access to conversational and written English as well as an international outlook for children and their parents. School hours in Cambodia are long, 7AM to 5PM, and thus any sporting activity is rare and to be maximised for gain. Manish Sharma has been known to hold dawn coaching sessions as a result.

Teams are playing six-a-sides with a hard ball on a half-mat that is moved from football ground to hard courts and back, and there are three tournaments a year between them in Phnom Penh every year. 70 local cricketers are playing. Umpires and scorers are needed now too. “They need to know so many things,” says Mr. Sharma, “Mahboob Shah was very helpful, he may need to come again though!” CAC President Vath Chamroeun, who also symbiotically is the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Secretary-General and an advisor to the Ministry of Tourism, is aware that cricket’s trajectory will be steady rather than spectacular. “It takes a long time for a game like cricket, which is totally new to the population, to take its roots. We are on the right path. I hope with the ACC’s support we can gather momentum,” he told the Phnom Penh Post.

Cambodia Coming On
Phnom Penh Cricket Club

Filed April 18th, 2014