Brunei, a small country on the tip of the north-eastern Malaysia, is aiming to make a substantial impact on the cause of cricket development.
"Translating the laws into Malay is a brilliant move," said BDCA CEO Manzur Ahmed, "it will make teaching the local cricketers a lot easier."
Ahmed has been active in cricket in Brunei since the 1980s after migrating from Bangladesh where he was a national player. After captaining Brunei from 1997 to 2006, he took up coaching.
"Translating the Laws may act as a motivating factor for the children of Brunei because it will be easier for them to learn from their Malay-speaking teachers at primary and secondary-schools. They can learn a new game in their native tongue and maybe even excel at it. People in Brunei do speak English but I think they communicate better with Malay," he added.
Brunei have already submitted its translation of the Laws to the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). The template has been forwarded on to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) for verification. The Laws of Cricket have already been translated into Bengali, Mandarin, Urdu, Farsi and Arabic at the encouragement of the ACC. The aim is to eventually have the Laws of Cricket available in all the major indigenous languages of Asia.
Brunei is also keen to raise the standards of junior and university level cricket. Later this month, the BDCA will be holding a cricket exhibition at the University of Brunei Darussalam and the Institute of Technology in Brunei, the top two universities in the country. Ahmed said "By February, we are aiming to market the game to all five universities here. This will help us in squad selection for the ASEAN University Games in Thailand this December. We are already getting positive responses."
Brunei's international age-group outings in ACC tournaments have not been yielding the best results, finishing last in both the 2009 U-19 Challenge Cup and the 2007 U-17 Challenge Cup. Even with these setbacks, the BDCA is not discouraged. One of its strategic goals is to "infuse the cricketing culture within the country" and that is what they are focussed on. Having had international exposure, the U19s, predominantly made up of boys who are below the age of 17, are a team for the future.
"We are not worried about short-term problems. The BDCA will not shift its focus which is to develop local talent. The game has to be pushed onto them and in that respect we are doing very well. In the future, we'd like to have a good standing amongst the ACC countries and be more competitive. Soon we will produce more cricketers and that is our goal. From a personal standpoint, I am just glad to be a part of introducing cricket in the country," said Ahmed.
With no turf wickets or turf nets and a long rainy season, Brunei faces greater challenges than its neighbours. Also, there is an exodus of players after the 'O' and 'A' level examinations. The children move abroad or focus wholly on their studies and leave the Brunei cricket scene. This is also why the introduction of cricket in the local universities is so critical to the sustained development of the game. It would provide the students with an opportunity to continue with their cricket after school. BDCA have also held talks with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to aid in providing indoor facilities.
ACC Development Officer for Brunei Aminul Islam said: "The development of cricket in Brunei will take time. The good news is that a lot of schools are showing tremendous interest and they are making progress. Brunei is really working very hard."
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