The MCC has further established its cricket links in Asia following a successful tour of Japan and Hong Kong in May.
The primary aim of the tour was to promote and develop the game in Japan through coaching, education, promotion and the playing of matches. It was also a wonderful opportunity to visit our reciprocal club, the Hong Kong Cricket Club, while in the region.
Japan is an associate member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and is situated in the ICC East Asia-Pacific (EAP) region, along with Australia.
The MCC Foundation’s charter includes a commitment to fostering the development of cricket at home and overseas and in recent years has worked closely with the ICC EAP region to develop strategies to enhance that commitment.
They have included collections of used cricket equipment during the Boxing Day Test matches, hosting players from developing cricket nations and touring, such as the visit to Vanuatu in 2006 and now Japan.
Led by MCC cricket and sporting sections coordinator Steven McCooke, a 17-strong touring party that included a mix of current and former MCC Premier cricketers and MCC members who play with other Premier clubs, departed Australia on April 30 and spent a week in Osaka and Fuji in Japan before visiting Hong Kong on the way home.
The visit was also a timely one, given the City of Osaka was celebrating the 30th anniversary of its sister city relationship with the City of Melbourne.
The mayor of Osaka, Mr Hiramitsu, and Osaka City Council president Mr Ashitaka were generous hosts and the club will return the hospitality when the mayor visits Melbourne in late-July.
The City of Osaka leant its full support to the Japan Cricket Association in assisting the set up of two coaching clinics run by the MCC touring party, plus an evening session and a full day of cricket activities attended by 80-100 local citizens, mainly teenage boys and girls.
The MCC played two matches against the Japanese national team in Fuji, providing them with valuable match practice in their lead up to an international tournament.
According to McCooke, the tour was a raging success. “We achieved our objectives and forged relationships which were a three-way thing between the MCC, JCA and City of Osaka that will be invaluable in the future. The tour was a wonderful experience for our younger cricketers to be involved in growing the game in a foreign country.”
And how good are the cricket skills of the locals? According to Steven, cricket at the junior level is still in “the embryonic stage of development” but its national team was still good enough to win one of the two matches.
The tour was rounded off with a high-quality match Hong Kong CC, won by the hosts in the final over. Their hospitality lived up to its legendary first-class status!