In 2020, I had my first chance to photograph a cricket tournament in Tokyo, the Akishima Mayor’s Cup. It was a great event that got youngsters at a multi-cultural sporting event. My camera caught a lot of bat against ball action.
The competition was a part of the Cricket Blast series. That is an entry-level program run by the Japan Cricket Association for children. The JCA hopes to grab their interest while they are young to increase the game’s popularity.
Many people complain that cricket is slow and the rules complicated. I’m a cricket fan, so I have never understood that sentiment, but the JCA does. They have relaxed things to make the game easier and faster. It’s a good idea, especially for countries where the game isn’t in the public conscious.
Japan Cricket Blast series rules
- In the case of wides, batters get a free hit.
- There are no leg before wicket (LBW) dismissals.
- Balls are of soft plastic.
- There are six players per team.
There were four teams for the day. Players were from Bangladesh, England, India, and Japan. The kids were from seven to twelve. They were very competitive.
Some of the teams came long distances to play. One was from Edogawa Ward. That is on the extreme east side of Tokyo! That was about fifty kilometers away. These kids were keen to play.
As the teams were very young, they lacked some skills, which was understandable. But, their enthusiasm for the game was boundless. Everyone put in a massive effort. Dropped catches were never a problem! They took them in their stride.
The eventual winner was the Akishima Junior Club. They played very consistently. Their trophy was well-deserved at the end of the day.
It was an enjoyable afternoon. Cricket fans were delighted to see the game played locally in Japan. We can only hope it continues to grow.
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After the games had finished, I again wondered how successful cricket might be in Japan. It has an uphill battle. Games like baseball and soccer are way more entrenched. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.