Test nations on invitation list as Hong Kong Sixes revived
The Hong Kong Sixes is back on the calendar. The tournament, last seen in 1997, has been revived and will be played in November at the Kowloon Cricket Club. The Hong Kong Cricket Association will make an official announcement next week where they will reveal that teams from the Test-playing nations will be invited and, along with Hong Kong, take part in a two-day tournament at the start of the 2001-02 season.
Terry Smith, HKCA president, confirmed that a 'new competition' will be played in November but refused to divulge anything more. 'We will announce all the details soon,' he said.
It is understood that organisers have signed up a couple of sponsors, one of which is believed to be Cathay Pacific. The airline used to support the tournament when it was played from 1992 to 1997 and featured stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and the Waugh brothers.
But it is highly unlikely that the overseas teams will boast any current Test players. The fall-out from the match-fixing controversy could make it difficult for Hong Kong to attract players of the present vintage.
With the ICC frowning upon international tournaments played in non-traditional venues - a recent report had suggested that the proliferation of tournaments in 'offshore' venues could have made it easier for the bookmakers to entice players to fix matches - it will be difficult to get the cricket boards of the Test-playing nations to agree to release their current crop of stars.
The Hong Kong Sixes came to a rocky end after the 1997 tournament - won by a Wasim Arkam-led Pakistani side - ended in acrimony between co-partners, the HKCA and promoters Cricket World International (CWI).
A financial wrangle arose after the '97 Sixes ended in the red. A combination of poor crowds and bad weather left organisers with losses amounting to HK$700,000. CWI had wanted the HKCA to bear half the cost of the losses, but the local governing body refused, saying that they were under no legal obligation to pay any part of it.
In May, 1998, the HKCA said: 'The negotiations conducted by the HKCA in good faith, in what proved to be a vain attempt to establish a 50-50 joint venture with CWI, were never concluded and the contract in place covering the 1997 event clearly places all financial risk connected with the event upon CWI.'
The falling out of the partners and the downturn in the economy led to the tournament being shelved in subsequent years.
From its inaugural year in 1992 until 1995, the Sixes were played at the KCC. But in 1996 it was moved to the Hong Kong Stadium. However, it is now felt that the move from the KCC was overly ambitious, and hence the return to its roots in November.
Saleem Malik will captain the Hong Kong team in this Sunday's practice match against a League Rest XI at the KCC. Malik has been handed the captaincy in the absence of Stewart Brew who will be in Singapore to attend his brother's wedding.
The selectors have not named a vice-captain for the ICC Trophy. 'At this stage we are not going to appoint a vice-captain,' said coach Andy Moles yesterday.