For well over 20 years Kingsgrove Sports Centre has been managing and hosting Cricket Tours for the Chuo University Cricket Club from Japan… yes Japan. Cricket has been growing slowly, but surely, in Japan for a while now. For us at Kingsgrove the Japanese player is a special class of cricketer and we absolutely love them for many reasons.
Every two years, a new group of students make the journey from one of the most prestigious Universities in Japan, to Melbourne and Sydney in a bid to learn more about the game that they’ve grown to love in a very, very short space of time. Many of the students experience cricket for the first time when they begin University at the age of 18 meaning that many of the tourists who are between the ages of 18 to 20 have only been playing for up to two years. We are not only talking about a men’s team, there has always been a squad of girls that love the game as much, if not more.
After spending some time in Melbourne the squad gears itself to make the pilgrimage to the “Cricketers Kingdom” lead by their Cricketing Guru, Kenny Matsumura who is like the godfather of Japanese cricket in our eyes.
After making the trek up Kingsgrove Road from the train station they spot the big yellow building that the students from previous tours had told them about and from there you can see their jaws begin to drop as they take in the showroom with wall-to-wall cricket equipment followed by the museum and then the Cricket Academy where they will soon start a coaching clinic. Of course there’s only one way to welcome them to the Kingsgrove leg of their cricket tour. A good old Aussie BBQ.
The next four hours consisted of a combination of cricket coaching lead by our Academy Manager, Level III Coach, Hamish Solomons and further checking out of the Cricket Shop. In the clinic they get an idea of Aussie style cricket coaching as well as plenty of individual attention from the experienced coaching staff. They will need it, for in the following few days they will play games against some promising young Australian cricketers.
The Aussie weather really put on a show with some very hot days but thankfully the beautiful Carss Park setting down by the water provided a beautiful backdrop and a cooling breeze for their big day of cricket on Wednesday the 14th. The Chuo University men’s squad was playing a double header T20 fixture against the Kingsgrove Cricket Academy Development Squad whilst the girls were taking on the St George Sutherland Slayers Development Squad for the first game and then for game two, the teams were to be mixed equally between the Aussie and Japanese girls.
The young KCA side was triumphant in two very close matches that went to the wire and all were amazed at the skill of the bowlers, in particularly the openers, as well as the standard of fielding. KCA captain Hamish Solomons was not so surprised, “I’ve been coaching and hosting Japanese cricketers for well over 20 years and what they lack in playing experience they make up for in passion and dedication to learning.” Solomons said, “I think what we are beginning to see is a flow on effect of sorts. Previous students that have been to Australia and stuck with the game are going on to play for Japan in ICC Tournaments and are then becoming good coaches which then benefits the next intake of students taking on the game as beginners. I have noticed a considerable improvement in the standard of the squads in general over the last 2 to 3 tours.” Solomons said at the end of the close T20 games, “They very nearly knocked us over.”
The girls you could see had a ball as well and there was plenty to be impressed about”, said Slayers 2nd Grade player and Captain for the Slayers Squad, Georgia Reid, “most importantly new friends were made and our young Aussie cricketers learnt about Japanese cricket”.
The Chuo cricketers then took on some Cricketing Culture over the next few days in preparation for another big match against a St George District Cricket Club Invitational team. First it was a day trip to one of the most historic cricketing towns in the world. We speak of course of Bowral, hometown of Sir Donald Bradman and location of the amazing International Cricket Hall of Fame (Formerly the Bradman Museum). Aside from taking in the usual Sydney Sites they found time to visit the Sydney Cricket Ground for a day of Sheffield Shield cricket.
On the Saturday the girls (and some boys) played a game against the Universities Women’s Cricket Club before the big finale to their tour, a turf game at the newly developed Olds Park, Penshurst. For all but one of the men’s team, this would be their first time playing on a turf pitch and they didn’t disappoint against the talented St George squad lead by 2nd Grade cricketer Nathan Anderson, also the grandson of former Australian Cricket and Hockey legend Brian Booth.
The Japanese cricketers did wonderful. On another hot outing, (They came from freezing conditions in Japan to near 40 degree days in Oz) aided by the skills of their National Player, they were able to put on a very respectable chase. Most importantly a great day was had by all the cricketers and this was celebrated later that evening at Kingsgrove Cricket Academy for what was a very enjoyable end of tour function. The function was attended by the Mayor of Georges Rivers Mr Kevin Greene, as well as the Representative for Sport for the Japanese General Consul office.
Kingsgrove Sports Centre Managing Director Harry Solomons, who manned the BBQ as has been the tradition for some time said “These tours get more and more enjoyable each year. We love helping them realize some of the cricketing dreams and hopefully they take home with the very best of cricketing memories.”
Feel free to check out the Chuo University Cricket Tour Facebook Page at –