Indonesia have recently hosted Singapore Women’s team for a six-match T20 series where Indonesia won by 6-0. All the games have taken place at the Udayana Cricket Ground in Bali. However, after the series, CricFit had a brief chat with Abhiram Singh Yadav – the acting Chairman of Persatuan Cricket Indonesia.
He grew up in the city of Yogyakarta and currently based in Jakarta. Apart from his profession, he is a well-known opinion writer for major national newspapers in Indonesia, international journals and books, and is frequently invited speakers at various forums around the world as well.
Here is the brief chat with Abhiram Singh Yadav:
Reports suggest that cricket was first played in Indonesia in the early 2000s. Indonesia became an affiliate member of ICC in 2001. How has cricket developed since then?
Cricket in Indonesia has developed at a very rapid high pace all throughout Indonesia. Apart from the archipelago geographical challenges, PCI has 20 province branches. With this, it has created more than 200.000 young indigenous players. These cricketers are from elementary class, Junior High School, Senior High School and up to the university level.
Our strategic development in the past 10 years has brought a bright and sustainable future for the sport of Cricket in Indonesia which will be sustainable and promising to achieve international honours for the pride of the nation. In fact, it is reasonable to claim that we are the fastest-growing cricket nation in the East Asia-Pacific region. This is even more unique as we are a non-commonwealth state.
What are the regions where cricket is mainly played? What are the measures PCI is adopting to spread the game to all parts of the country?
Currently in 20 provinces. All through the islands of Sumatra, Jawa, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali and up till Papua; the ball and bats sound the voice of cricket. In fact, we actually have a Cricket Stadium in Papua with two grounds, a ground in Bali, as well as two grounds in Jakarta.
Apart from these major grounds; there are grounds available to play cricket in all the province. To achieve all targets, PCI maximises its relationship with Central Government, provincial government, regent government, sports authorities and other stakeholders. Through this cricket has become an official sport in Indonesia and is played at the National Games (PON Games) which is a multi-sport event held every 4 years and competed between the province.
This has accelerated high performance in each province. In line with this, we have been supported by every national news agency which actively covers all of our events and participation in various moments.
What are the future plans for Indonesia Cricket?
In the context of development and with the reality of more than 260 million Indonesian population, we plan to achieve a target of 1 million cricket participants in the upcoming 3 years and reach up to 5 million participations in the upcoming 8-10 years. This is a logical target based on the pace of our development and the demographic of Indonesia.
Meanwhile, through a strong domestic competition structure, we aim to be one of the strongest teams in Asia as well as globally. Hopefully, our Women can reach the top 10 ranking in the T20I and Men can be in the top 20. Currently, our Women’s National Team is ranked 20 th at the ICC T20I ranking and the Men at 57 th spot. We also target gold medals at the upcoming SEA Games and perform for a medal at the Asian Games.
As Acting Chairman what’s your immediate goal and plan for Indonesia Cricket?
As the Acting Chairman of Cricket Indonesia, my short-term plan is to focus on a gold medal at the SEA Games Cambodia for both Men and Women’s teams. This will be a continuous plan in which at the previous SEA Games we won a Silver Medal for Women and a Bronze for Men in the year 2017. Today, we are a much stronger team and believe we can do much more.
Apart from that, we plan to host the T20I series every month in Bali with other nations. This will help push our global ranking. At the same time, we will try to improve on collaborations with sponsors which will help us reach our ambitions and our high-performance program. Developing the sport of cricket beyond the pitch with non-traditional partners will be our focus for next year.
This is also developing a corporate structure which should be able to raise funds and distribute for cricket development all-around Indonesia. I trust, with our people-to-people relationship, we will reach our ambition. The year 2023 you will see a new Cricket Indonesia which will be the pride of the nation and a hub for global cricket.
History for Indonesia 🌟
They are set to make their first-ever ICC Cricket World Cup appearance after booking their berth at the 2023 U19 Women's T20 World Cup 🏆
— ICC (@ICC) July 5, 2022
It’s a significant achievement for you personally as the chairman and PCI to be developing the cricket infrastructure – where do you see cricket Indonesia in about 10 years’ time?
Developing Cricket infrastructure is a very important aspect of our plans ahead. With support from the Government, we have a cricket stadium in Papua with two grounds. We expect a similar infrastructure by 2024 in the city of Medan (North Sumatra) and in Nusa Tenggara Timur by the year 2028 for the preparation of the National PON Games. Apart from that, we are in the process of obtaining new grounds in Bali as well as other provinces.
Along with Cricket Australia, we are also looking forward to cooperation in co-hosting global events which will boost awareness of Indonesian Cricket. Hopefully, the telecast will witness the world-class cricket grounds in Indonesia which will host major international tournaments in the future.
You have been at the forefront of the growth & development of Indonesia Cricket. Share your experience as the change maker of Indonesia Cricket.
It was a very difficult task to introduce cricket in Indonesia. As a non-commonwealth state, people had no idea of the sport. Yet, there was a minor similar local sport named Kasti which became the entry point for introducing Cricket.
In the last past eight years, I was trusted by my Chairman Dr. Azis Syamsuddin (a well-known Indonesian parliamentarian) to fully assist him in leading the sport. Since then, on daily basis, we had brought Cricket to a new stage. From an unknown sport to a sport that brought medals for Indonesia at the SEA Games. From non-media exposure to knowing a routine newsmaker. In fact, our social media is one of the most active and creative compared to other sports in Indonesia. We are now officially recognised as a promising sport in Indonesia.
The key to achieving this was collaboration and dedication. I had dedicated my time and energy to working and developing Cricket to be accepted and enjoyed by every community in Indonesia. I also thank all those who joined hands with me to make all this workout. It was not easy, but we have done it in the best possible way.
What is your message to other Associate cricket boards?
My message would be to encourage the development of cricket so it becomes a local sport in their country. With this, it will develop local players and become a sustainable sport for the future.
What significance does the current series against Singapore hold? Do you think these kinds of matches at home will inspire more women to take up the sport?
I think that both Indonesia and Singapore gained a lot from the series. I am glad that my friend Mr. Saad agreed to this series after the long pandemic challenges. Apart from the sport being back on the ground, we support that cricket can become an important aspect of government-to-government and people-to-people cultural diplomacy.
How helpful will it be that companies like SMW are investing and producing cricket games in Indonesia now?
It’ll be a massive opportunity for both sides, producers and for Indonesia. Currently, the government is encouraging the production of sports equipment in Indonesia. For this, we invite and are ready to assist in building companies and factories in Indonesia.
The current Indonesia Women’s team have some good players in their ranks. Do you guys wish to play against heavyweights like India, Australia and England? What are the prospects of hosting such matches?
Yes, we look forward to our team playing at the highest level possible. We are ready to learn and ready to win.