It is the start of a busy year for Asian Cricket Council as the ACC T20 Eastern Region competition staged in Bangkok from 19th to 26th February is the first of nine events that have been arranged for ACC’s member countries in 2018. Hosts Thailand will compete against Bhutan, China and Myanmar and a total of eight T20 matches will be held so there should be plenty of excitement at Therdthai Cricket Ground over the next few days.
The tournament is another important stage in Asian Cricket Council’s recent revival as the organization looks to provide a full schedule of playing and educational events for its 16 member countries from across Asia. Sultan Rana, ACC’s Events and Development Manager, has arrived in Thailand to oversee the ACC T20 Eastern Region tournament and he was delighted to share his vision for the future of cricket in Asia.
Asian Cricket Council had minimized its program of activities in 2014 as a result of restructuring so very few cricketing events were staged in 2015 and 2016, but following its relocation to Colombo in Sri Lanka, ACC has managed to revive its program of activities thanks to the support of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The four premier international sides in the region have been able to generate substantial income from holding the Asia Cup and they were keen to revive a substantial development program in the Asian Region. Sultan Rana stated that ‘ACC is indebted to the four Test playing countries for their concern, interest and support. I would like to commend them for their support, both financial and technical, for all member countries around Asia.’
Sultan Rana explained that the establishment of a fully-fledged office in Colombo which has become a permanent headquarters from which to run its operations was a turning point in the history of ACC. He has had a long association with the organization since he was Development Manager from 2005 to 2009 and returned as Events and Development Manager in 2011.
The Asian Cricket Council had always run a full program of events for its member countries in his first spell as Development Manager, so he is proud to be instrumental in ensuring that ACC could once again provide a full service of tournaments and educational courses.
2017 saw ACC provide a total of seven activities for countries in Asia, six tournaments and a Level II Umpires’ Course in Lahore, for which Sultan Rana was grateful to the Pakistan Cricket Board for providing the facilities and the expertise to run the course.
Asian Cricket Council’s 16 countries are now divided into two Regions, Eastern and Western, and there are tournaments staged at Under-16, Under-19 and Senior levels, as well as for Women. The best teams in each region are now able to compete against Asia’s Test playing countries with the Under-19 Asia Cup and the Emerging Teams Asia Cup now being played on an annual basis.
The ACC is also looking to promote women’s cricket in the region and Thailand and Malaysia will have the chance to face the leading teams in Asia when the Women’s Asia Cup T20 is held in Malaysia in June. Thailand and Bangladesh will be able to gain more competitive experience before they travel to Netherlands to participate in the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier.
The Asian Cricket Council had run 20-over competitions for Asian countries every two years from 2007 to 2015 so this ACC T20 Eastern Region competition is another step in ACC’s return to a full program of events. It is also a wonderful opportunity for the four teams, Thailand, Bhutan, China and Myanmar, to play in an ACC event, after a break of almost six years for some of the teams. Thailand, China and Myanmar last played in the ACC Challenge in 2012, while Bhutan competed in the ACC Elite in 2014.
The ACC T20 Eastern Region tournament will see the four teams face each other in a three-match league with play getting under way on 21st February with a final and third place play-off being held on the 25th. All matches will be played at Terdthai Cricket Ground in Bangkok with all four teams involved each day with both morning and afternoon matches.
This is the first ACC competition to be held in 2018, which will see seven tournaments and two educational courses. There will also be High Performance Programs provided for all teams which perform to higher levels than their current ICC ranking.
Sultan Rana is looking forward to what will be a busy year for Asian Cricket Council and he says that this is just the start for the new-look ACC and many more events will follow in the near future. He finished by saying that ‘Thailand is one of our main venues and we are grateful to Cricket Association of Thailand for organizing and hosting the tournament on behalf of ACC. It is good to be busy and we are holding a tournament or course every six weeks this year.’
Written by Richard Lockwood