Speech by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister For Finance, At The International Cricket Council Gala Dinner30 Jun 2010
Mr David Morgan, President, International Cricket Council
Mr Imran Khwaja, President, Singapore Cricket Association
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Let me first thank the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) for making Singapore the venue for your annual conference and annual general meeting. We take some pride in this, and hope that we have provided a conducive setting for your meetings. I'm sure your choice of Singapore, a non-test playing nation as venue sends a signal of your plans to promote cricket game internationally, well beyond its traditional geography - and certainly beyond the boundaries of the old British empire.
Cricket's next wave: Asia
2. The next wave of interest in cricket has begun, and it is taking place here in Asia amongst the non-test-playing nations. China, which began taking an active interest in cricket just five years ago, has embarked on plans to develop 20,000 players and 2000 coaches by 2015. It has also set its aspirations high - to qualify for the World Cup in 2019, and to gain test status the year after. (The Indian Cricket Board has been helping the China Cricket Association with coaching expertise, including sending Mamatha Maben to coach the Chinese women's team.) Other nations too are emerging in Asia. Nepal for example recently won the Asian Under-17 Cup.
3. In Singapore, too, cricket has re-emerged as a popular sport. The Singapore Cricket Association today organises matches for 91 teams in local leagues compared to just 14 in 2003. We now have the largest number of officially-sanctioned cricket matches amongst the non-test playing countries of the world - with over 1,200 matches to be played in the 2010 season. Cricket enthusiasts at all levels play the sport on 14 cricket grounds across our small island. We are glad our national team was ranked number one in Asia and sixteenth in the world among non-test playing countries, but we too aim to do better over the next decade.
4. There is another dimension to cricket in Singapore. The sport was embraced by all races and social groups historically. We are seeing it once again become a sport for all, starting with the young enthusiasts in our schools.
Singapore as a host for international cricket
5. The Singapore Sports Hub, when it is ready in a few years, will be well placed to host world-class cricket matches. It will be a 55,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof, spot cooling in the stadium bowl and pre-cabling for broadcast purposes.
6. Together with our air connectivity and infrastructure, and the neutrality that we offer as a small nation, we will be a good location for ICC events and international matches. International cricket will be a wonderful addition to our other efforts as an Asian sports city, such as the annual Formula One night race, and the upcoming inaugural Youth Olympic Games in August.
7. On this note, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Singapore Cricket Association (SCA) and the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) for their efforts in developing Singapore as a cricketing and sporting destination and for promoting the sport amongst our people. I wish all of you an enjoyable evening.