Butt's big-hitting blizzard leads to safety barriers being raised

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 November, 2004, 12:00am

Record-breaking batsman Hussain Butt may have managed only 15 runs yesterday, but the Hong Kong Cricket Club is taking no chances.

The wicket on Wong Nai Chung Gap Road will remain closed to first-class cricket until early next month so fences can be raised against the next onslaught by Butt, who hit 311 runs in 35 overs last weekend.

Balls rained down around the ground, landing on the clubhouse roof and swimming pool netting, and hitting two taxis as Butt smashed 36 sixes, losing 12 balls in the process.

Club chairman Rodney Miles said particular attention would be paid to the 12-metre wire fences bordering the Hong Kong Tennis Centre on the northern boundary. 'We'll be raising them by about three metres,' Mr Miles said. 'It was such an exceptional innings - a great moment for cricket in Hong Kong - but we don't want to take any chances. We were planning to raise the fences anyway, so this has given us the opportunity to bring things forward.'

As the club seeks to verify whether Butt's effort broke a world record, the University of Hong Kong player appeared to concentrate on his bowling in a match against Kai Tak at Sandy Bay yesterday, taking a hat-trick in a six-wicket haul.

He managed only 15 with the bat - including just one six, apparently frustrated by being denied the strike by his partner before being caught on the boundary. Any danger posed to passing traffic quickly faded as his team reached 170.

Asked if the events of last week - which made international headlines - put pressure on him to perform, Butt was quietly confident.

'I didn't really feel any different inside. I don't really like this ground, for some reason. I don't feel comfortable here. If it had been at the HKCC [Hong Kong Cricket Club] or KCC [Kowloon Cricket Club], against better bowling, then maybe I would have felt different. I get more motivated when I face better bowling. I have an ability to hit sixes - for me it seems easy. But success will not happen every day.'

His hat-trick was a lesson in control: three yorkers, all uprooting the off stump, which gave his teammates something to cheer when the game was lost in the next over.