Hong Kong heroes hit jackpot

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 August, 2006, 12:00am

Hong Kong's heroics at the Asian Cricket Council Trophy will benefit local cricket to the tune of at least HK$8 million in the next couple of years.

Champagne corks will be popping in Kuala Lumpur whatever the result of today's Cup final against the United Arab Emirates as the mission has been accomplished.

'Our mission was to get into the final and the guys have done that. The financial future of Hong Kong cricket has been secured. They have done us proud,' said an ecstatic Clive Howard, chairman of the Hong Kong Cricket Association.

Howard (pictured) has every right to be rubbing his hands in glee because captain Tim Smart and his Hong Kong teammates have found the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow after a remarkable journey to the final of the 17-team ACC Trophy.

With an inspired Rahul Sharma leading the way in batting, Hong Kong have reached the final. That means they not only kept alive their 2011 World Cup dreams by gaining promotion to the Third Division of the World League, but they also qualified for the lucrative 2008 Asia Cup and, most importantly, secured funding from the International Cricket Council and its Asian subsidiary.

When Hong Kong last figured in the Asia Cup, back in 2004, the HKCA received nearly HK$2.5 million from the ACC as their share of proceeds from TV and broadcasting rights. Hong Kong can expect something in this region, if not more, when they take part in the 2008 Asia Cup.

On top of this, the annual subvention from the ICC and the ACC last year amounted to HK$3 million. This sum has also been secured by Hong Kong's fine performance in Kuala Lumpur this past fortnight.

'If we had underperformed at this ACC Trophy, we were in real danger of losing out on our subvention from the ICC and the ACC, and losing our standing in Asia,' said Howard. 'But this past week's fine showing by the team has cemented our position.'

'This past week has been a nervous week for me. After losing to Nepal in the preliminary stages, we have had an amazing run, including that remarkable win over Kuwait,' said Howard.

In their last group game against Kuwait, which was a must-win match, Hong Kong ran through the gamut of results, first tying the match, then being declared losers by match officials, before a recalculation by tournament organisers resulted in the result being reversed and Hong Kong winning on net run rate - a minute 0.03 runs.