HANGZHOU: In a matter of 37 runs, the four bats and 12 women cricketers that Mongolia came here with were done with their Asian Games campaign, well before the Opening Ceremony began. But the effort and the backstory to their appearance at the Games has made headlines.
They scored 15 and 22 all out against Indonesia and Hong Kong respectively. Their 37 runs in total from two group fixtures, which were their first two international matches, and a net run-rate of -17.200 are glaring. But what must grab attention is how Mongolia put itself on the Asian cricket map when it was difficult to even imagine that the sport exists in the landlocked country.
Not a surprise then to learn that they arrived at the Asian Games with a squad of only 12 players, and at any given point during a match, half of the bats they brought with them — 4 to be precise — were being used in the middle.
The balls they had to train with for the Asian Games were used ones and the equipment second hand, which their coach David Talalla managed to get from his contacts in Australia, besides some of the kit donated by the French ambassador to Ulaanbaatar.

Talalla is a former Malaysian cricketer of Sri Lankan descent living in Australia and volunteered himself to coach the team.
While Talalla couldn’t be reached, one of the Mongolian contingent’s deputy press attache in Hangzhou said: “Cricket is not big in Mongolia, but it is very big in India.”
But the Mongolians, in whatever little way possible, have been trying to make the sport as big as they can, ever since Battulga Gombo, who the ICC calls – the man behind cricket in Mongolia – brought the game to the country after getting hooked to it in Australia.
“In 2014 he (Gombo) convinced the municipal park authorities to grant rights to develop an area of wasteland into a cricket ground, and in 2015, with his friend Chris Hurd, he launched the Mongolian Cricket Seed Appeal,” reads the Mongolian Cricket Board’s profile on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) website. “With the help of many, funds were raised (and) the Mongolian Friendship Cricket Ground was built.”
The ICC gave associate membership to Mongolia in 2021.
Mongolia’s 12 women players, who participated in the Asian Games, took to the sport just two years back. And what makes their cricket life tougher is the harsh winter back home that allows them to practice for just 4-5 months in a year. It, therefore, forces them to use artificial pitches for practice.
The turf pitch in Hangzhou was a new thing for them.
On Saturday, the contingent paraded at the Opening Ceremony, and they have every reason to be proud of their cricketing journey that made it possible for them to be part of the sport at the Asian Games.
Mongolia though is not done with cricket at this edition of the Games. From September 27 onwards, it will be over to their men’s team.

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