Regulars lose spots in new-look HK team
Three big names - Courtney Kruger, Roy Lamsam and Nadeem Ahmed - are missing from a 17-strong national squad for the international season, beginning with next week's tour to Papua New Guinea.
As Hong Kong build towards the 2014 ICC World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand, the selectors have cast aside underperforming senior batsmen Kruger and Lamsam, while ignoring left-arm spinner Nadeem, who has chosen to concentrate on his studies.
Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke said it was a hard decision that had to be made in the best interests of the team.
'The selectors were very strong in their views that both Kruger and Lamsam had not performed well enough over the past two years, not only for Hong Kong but also at club level,' Burke said.
'It isn't an easy call as both have a wealth of experience and also have been very committed, so they now must go out and score runs, and big runs at that. It also means there is a lot of pressure on the 17-man squad when you can leave both Kruger and Lamsam out.
'Nadeem Ahmed has made himself unavailable due to study which is a shame but we have a lot of great young players waiting. No longer do we have guaranteed spots.'
Lamsam and Kruger were both once regarded as captaincy material, while Nadeem has had a string of problems and had been dropped on disciplinary grounds.
'The squad has been based on three components, performance both domestically at Premier and Sunday Championship along with Hong Kong, commitment to the squad and finally with a real focus on the 2014 World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand,' Burke said.
Two new players who are likely to figure prominently are all-rounders Tanvir Afzaal and Haseeb Amjad. They both qualify under the ICC's four-year residency rule.
'Tanvir and Haseeb are huge additions to the squad as they both qualify this year and will now put a lot of pressure on Max Tucker and Babar Hayat, who are also four-year eligibility players [only two can play in any starting XI],' Burke said.
New Zealand-based Mark Chapman will also play for Hong Kong.
'Mark has promised me he wants to pull on the baggy red cap again after a year out to concentrate on study and cricket commitments in New Zealand. I expect him to play in the ACC elite trophy in October in Dubai,' Burke said.
Jamie Atkinson will continue to lead Hong Kong and is likely to have Waqas Barkat as his deputy. Barkat will lead the team in Papua New Guinea as Atkinson is overseas.
The squad includes Nizakat Khan, Irfan Ahmed, Daljeet Singh, Li Kai-ming, Kinchit Shah, Aizaz Khan, Munir Dar, Aditya Kanthan, Karan Shah and Mudassar Hussain.