Speed, who will be accompanied by Shaharyar Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, was enthused by the prospects of developing the sport of cricket in China.

 

"This is my first visit to China as chief executive officer of the International Cricket Council and it is an exciting prospect both personally and professionally," said Speed.

 

"I was given an insight into the China Cricket Association's plans during an Asian Cricket Council seminar in Kuala Lumpur in June and although those plans are still in their early stages they are still very impressive.

 

"No one is under any illusion that the widespread development of the game in China will be something that takes place overnight," he added.

 

"However, the enthusiasm for the game in China appears to be both tangible and growing rapidly and if that enthusiasm can be harnessed then that is great news for cricket not only there but on a worldwide basis."

 

Khan, who has been appointed to chair a "Committee to Evaluate China", had already met with officials from the Chinese Cricket Association (CCA), and was pleased by what he had heard.

 

"I have been impressed by the rigour and the scale of their strategic thinking," said Khan.

 

"The opportunities they potentially offer their countrymen is immense, the potential they offer the cricket world is immense."

 

China became a part of the Asian Cricket Council in 2004 and joined the ICC in 2005, with their goal being to have 15,000 cricketers by 2009, 60,000 by 2012 and 150,000 by 2020.

 

"We think this is a sport in which Chinese could do very well because this is a game that emphasizes skills, tactics and team work," said Zhang Xiaoning, chairman of the CCA.

 

The CCA will initially focus on the one-day format of the game with a comprehensive development plan including coaching, funding and facilities already in progress.