Barkat at HK helm for World Cup warm-up
Former wicketkeeper Waqas Barkat has been handed the captaincy as Hong Kong look at kick starting their preparations for the ICC World Cup qualifiers in 2014 with a short tour to Papua New Guinea next month.
Barkat (pictured) has been thrust into the role in the absence of Jamie Atkinson, who is in England trying out with county sides including Worcestershire and Yorkshire, and after the decision by Nizakat Khan to step down as vice-captain.
'Nizakat has decided he needs more time to focus on his game and has decided to relinquish his vice-captaincy. With Jamie away in England, the selectors have decided Waqas should be given the responsibility,' coach Charlie Burke said.
Barkat is playing club cricket in Sri Lanka for Chilaw CC and last weekend he made an outstanding impact, taking nine wickets with his new-found skill - bowling off-breaks.
'We have been working on his bowling quite a bit. Hong Kong has a surfeit of wicketkeepers, guys like Jamie, Mark Ferguson and a couple more, so we have decided Waqas should look at developing his bowling and it seems he is coming along nicely,' Burke said.
With money from the ICC's high performance fund, the Hong Kong Cricket Association has worked out a short-term deal for Barkat to play in the highly competitive under-23 tournament in Sri Lanka. He will join the rest of the Hong Kong squad in Port Moresby from July 17-23 for two 50-over games and four Twenty20 matches.
'We will be playing against PNG, Singapore and a strong outfit from Queensland. This is the start of our build-up to the World Cup qualifiers in 2014 in New Zealand,' Burke said. 'We will be trying out a couple of new faces as we also look ahead to this October's ACC Elite Trophy in Dubai.'
Anshuman Rath and Aditya Kanthan will be two youngsters Burke will watch closely.
Hong Kong Cricket Club's Rath, 15, is a right-hand batsman and off spinner, while Kanthan is a right-arm medium-pacer who turns out for Kowloon Cricket Club. Two other newcomers to the national team are Tanvir Afzaal and Haseeb Amjad, both of whom should qualify for Hong Kong under the ICC's four-year residency rule before the end of the year.