(CricketEurope) The Philippines is one of the world's more mysterious cricketing outposts. We hear and read so little about the game there. Can we start off by finding out in what parts of the Philippines is cricket played?
(Iain Sinclair) Cricket has actually been played in the Philippines since 1914. The home of Cricket in the Philippines is the Nomad Sports Club in Paranaque City, Manila. Currently cricket in the Philippines is played in Manila, Cebu and Baguio City. More details about cricket in the Philippines can be found on the Association website: www. philippinecricketassociation.com
(CricketEurope) How many clubs are there in the main domestic competition and how is it structured?
(Iain Sinclair) We are currently in the process of restructuring our domestic competition. In April 2010 we will commence the second season of the Philippine Premier League (PPL). This will be contested by 6 teams. We are also hoping to run a similar competition in Cebu later in the season. The PPL will be played using a unique format we have developed where we play a 36 over match split over two innings of 18 over's each. We have found this unique format actually provides much more competitive cricket, and gets everyone involved.
(CricketEurope) Have you been able to develop indigenous players at a local level at this early stage?
(Iain Sinclair) At this time we are focusing our efforts to develop junior indigenous players. Since 2004 the Nomad Sports Club has run a highly successful junior development program involving a number of indigenous children. Last year in conjunction with the International Cricket Sixes we adopted an orphanage in Angeles City where the children were provided with "Kwick" Cricket equipment, and receive regular coaching. We will in September 2010 be starting a schools program. This will initially involve 4 international schools and 2 indigenous schools. We are also investigating the possibility of taking the program to other parts of the country such as Mindanao.
(CricketEurope) And in relation to that subject, the Philippines is set to make it's international ICC debut in 2011 at the EAP Trophy. Are you on target to field a side for that tournament and Will you be aiming for a four expat/10 locally produced squad like Japan and Indonesia or will it be totally expat based to begin with?
(Iain Sinclair) We are now in the process of identifying a core group of approximately 18 players who are qualified to represent the Philippines and form them into a national development squad. Unfortunately it will be totally expatriate based with one possible exception. We will be trying to entice Carlos Miguel to start playing again. For those of your readers in Asia, Carlos just took part in a prime time Tv show called the biggest loser Asia. At the time of writing he is in the final 4, and has become a local celebrity here. Carlos like many Filipinos was brought up overseas in Australia and learnt to play his cricket in Manly. Due to ICC requirements a number of Filipinos who live overseas will not be able to qualify to play for their country of birth due to the requirement that they must play in the domestic competition. Unless we can convince the ICC to remove the requirement to play in domestic competitions we will for the next few years be forced to field a predominantly expatriate team. I believe we will be competitive with the other affiliate members as we have a surprising number of players who have in their younger days played some minor representative cricket.
(CricketEurope) This might seem like a strange question but over the years I've realised that the most successful countries in terms of development are those that are the most ambitious. Others are relatively happy to have the sport played as a social outlet for a small niche. Sometimes it can boil down to having two or three highly motivated individuals who are hell bent on seeing their country become a prominent cricketing nation. Where would you say the Philippines fits in this regard?
(Iain Sinclair) For a number of years it would be fair to say that cricket was limited to those members of the Nomad Sports Club. However cricket is now expanding with the emergence of sides in Cebu and Baguio. We are fortunate to have a very multi cultural cricketing population drawn from all of the major playing nations, and we are fortunate to have a core group of people who want to take cricket forward in structured and sustainable manner.
(CricketEurope) Another key of course is the availability of grounds. Without them, cricket cannot prosper no matter how many people show an interest. How many grounds are there in the Philippines?
(Iain Sinclair) The availability of facilities is a major problem. With the exception of the Nomad Sports Club in Manila there is no other dedicated facility. At Nomads we also have the ability to play night cricket as the ground has floodlights and as a result this hosts all the cricket played in Manila. The clubs in Cebu make use of facilities at the international school. The Parade Ground in the former US Military Base in Clark has been used to stage the first 2 editions of the Philippine International Cricket Sixes. This involved preparing two pitches on top of which we laid mats.
(CricketEurope) The Philippines International Cricket Sixes event is a highlight of the cricketing calender each year. Can you tell us a bit more about the tournament and also how teams might go about entering if they are keen?
(Iain Sinclair) We would welcome new teams. Full details of last years and this years event can be found on the tournament website: www.philippinesixes.com This year's event will be held between 22 and 23 May and will be sponsored by Etihad Airlines. We will be using the outstanding facilities of the Manila Polo Club. This is a 16 team Six a side event played over 2 days. Teams are guaranteed a minimum of 5 games during the tournament. For the last 2 years the former England and Surrey Wicket Keeper Jack Richards has been the guest of honour. For teams coming from Europe we can arrange additional fixtures in the Philippines and other countries.
(CricketEurope) How is sport rated by the Government and the general public. Obviously soccer is played everywhere in the world but which other sports have the big support?
(Iain Sinclair) The Philippines is one of the few countries in the world where soccer is not the most popular sport. The most popular sport in the Philippines is Basketball. Unfortunately with the exception of Manny Pacquaio the Philippines has very few recognisable world class sportsmen and women. It would be great if some others could come through as the Filipinos enthusiasm for sports is unmatched.
(CricketEurope) And what about plans to expand to other areas of the country?
(Iain Sinclair) We have a 3 year development program. Our main focus is to develop and expand our junior program, and develop new facilities where cricket can be played. As part of this we program we will be seeking to identify opportunities to introduce cricket to other parts of the Philippines.
(CricketEurope) What about the University cricket scene. Is there a band of local students who are taking an interest in the sport via University as has happened in Japan and South Korea?
(Iain Sinclair) This will be one area we will be looking at. The Philippine Rugby Union has also been very successful in introducing Rugby into the armed services, police and maritime academies and we will be looking at the potential to do the same for cricket.
(CricketEurope) What does the Philippines most need in terms of assistance to become a competitive cricketing nation?
(Iain Sinclair) Facilities! We would also like to welcome more touring teams so our players can obtain more experience.
(CricketEurope) Finally, in five years from now, where do you hope the Philippines is positioned on the world stage?
(Iain Sinclair) In five years time I would hope to see:- Up to 40 junior teams playing cricket. Up to 10 dedicated cricket grounds. A senior league of 10 teams in Manila and some other regional leagues. A Women's Cricket Program