Afghanistan ruled out of Sixes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 May, 2012, 12:00am


Red tape has forced the Hong Kong Cricket Association to abandon plans to invite Afghanistan to the Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes in October.

Chairman Dinesh Tandon said: 'We will not pursue the possibility of getting Afghanistan for the Sixes.

'There is a visa issue and it will take too much time and effort to try to change the existing requirements of the Immigration Department.'

The HKCA made initial inquiries to the Immigration Department over the possibility of inviting Afghanistan to take part in this year's Sixes at Kowloon Cricket Club.

But it was told there was no chance as Afghanistan is included on a blacklist of countries banned from receiving employment visas.

Tandon said: 'It would have been a popular move to get Afghanistan. They are a hot name in the world of cricket and it would have been nice to see them at the Sixes.

'But right now we prefer to stick with the same teams who played last year with the possible addition of getting the West Indies.'

Afghanistan is among the leading associate member countries in the International Cricket Council.

They have caught the imagination of the world with their rapid rise from nowhere to one-day international status. They have also qualified for their second ICC World Twenty20 tournament this year in Sri Lanka.

Timing also seems to have been against Afghanistan - the top duo at the HKCA, president Shahzada Saleem and chairman Tandon, have both decided against running for another term and will step down at the annual meeting on June 2. With time at a premium, the Afghanistan issue would have placed a burden on the new officials - Burji Shroff and Anoop Gidwani - who are expected to step into their shoes.

With that and the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of pursuing visas for Afghanistan, it was felt it would be better to focus on issues over which the new decision-making body could have more control.

All athletes entering Hong Kong to take part in an international sporting event require an employment visa.

But under the prevailing policy of the Immigration Department, nationals of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Nepal and Vietnam are not issued such visas. More pressing issues lie in store for the new executive, especially applying once again for government money for the Hong Kong Sixes from the Mega Events Fund, and organising the tournament, which is scheduled for October 27-28.

Depending on the success of the funding application, the tournament could again be extended to three days.

Tandon said: 'There is so much to do. We have to decide if we stick to last year's format of 12 teams over three days, whether to have a separate All-Stars team or whether the big names of the game should be part of their respective national teams.'