by Tito S. Talao
Always the astonished reaction when told that the sport exists here is: “They play cricket in the Philippines?”
And just as astonishing is the reply: “Socially, for a hundred years,” assures Faisal Khan, GM of the Philippine Cricket Association.
He adds to temper credulity: “But in the level of a national team? Since 2011.”
“Originally, at the Manila Nomad Sports Club in Parañaque (which opened in 1914, according to Wikipedia,” Khan says. Football, badminton, rugby union, tennis, squash and lawn bowls are other sports accommodated there.
For the past seven or eight years, however, home for the cricket faithful has been the Friendship Oval of Emilio Aguinaldo College in Dasmariñas, Cavite where, Khan says, the ICC World Cup Twenty20 East Asia-Pacific Group B Qualifiers will be held December 1 to 7.
Khan is looking to steer a 14-man PH cricket team (comprised of 4 Fil-Austrians, a Fil-Indian, a Fil-Pakistani and eight expats) past Group B opponents from Indonesia, Japan and South Korea into the T20 Regional Finals in Papua, New Guinea in March 2019 for a berth to the 2020 World Cup in Australia.
The 2011 PH team skipper is optimistic they will move on to the next round.
“We have played them on several occasions and we never lost to them,” he says.
The Philippines will be playing each opponent twice, with South Korea first up on Saturday.