Young pioneer swinging away in Yorkshire

Updated: 2012-07-06 07:47

By Tym Glaser (China Daily)

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Young pioneer swinging away in Yorkshire

Jiang Shuyao plays a lofted drive for English club Cleethorpes. Provided to China Daily

As Ripley's would proclaim, "believe it or not, there is a Chinese man playing cricket in England".

While second and third generation Chinese have taken up the languid game in Britain, Jiang Shuyao is most likely the first from the mainland to wield the willow on English turf in a league game.

The 25-year-old batsman from near Shenyang has ventured across the seas to play with Cleethorpes in the Yorkshire League.

"They (the team) have been wonderful. They are giving him a game," said Matthew Smith, his former coach and mentor.

"The Asia Cricket Council paid for his flight and his parents, although by no means rich, put together 40,000-50,000 yuan ($6,500-$8,000) to support him for six months.

"He played in the Asian Games for China and was one of the first guys I saw that I thought was a cricketer. He clearly knows what the game is about.

"He is also very level-headed, he knows he is not going to be a professional cricketer, but he wants to learn and experience more of the game."

The cultural and language differences have proven tough for Jiang, but the young sports teacher-in-training's efforts cannot be underestimated.

"He is the first Chinese cricketer in England and it is terribly important for us here about the impression he makes," Smith said. "He is not allowed to play first-team cricket as the club is only allowed one overseas professional and it has a South African, so he plays with the second team. But he went out there in his first game and scored 76 not out ... it was super, I think he's averaging now in the 30s and he's an awesome fielder.

"He is learning and adapting. He is going to become a sports teacher and hopefully he will teach cricket here when he returns. We want him to come back and share his knowledge and experiences and stay in contact with the game."

Smith also believes some of the players on his current squad have shown enough promise to play abroad.

"I think there are one or two on this team that I would consider (for a move to England)," Smith said. "There are also about three Chinese guys playing in the Shanghai league. We just want to light up little things and hopefully one or two of them will catch."