Kruger to make HK return
Courtney Kruger, who six months ago was in a hospital bed with the top of his skull sawn off, is set to return to the Hong Kong fold after he was chosen yesterday in an 18-strong squad named for the next qualifying leg for the 2011 World Cup.
Batsman Kruger is tipped to make the final 14 who will play in the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament in Darwin, Australia, from May 27-June 6. 'It is good to see him back in the squad,' said coach Robin Singh. 'He is batting well.'
Kruger was almost paralysed last September when an abscess in his sinus resulted in fluid draining into his brain cavity. The teenager had to undergo two major cranial operations before doctors declared he was out of danger.
If picked for Darwin - the final 14 will be announced on April 20 - it will be Kruger's first international tournament since the ACC Trophy in Kuala Lumpur last summer where Hong Kong finished runners-up and qualified for the ICC WCL Division Three event.
Singh, who is based in Chennai, India, was in town last week as Hong Kong played against the touring Air India team. Although Hong Kong lost both matches, Singh was impressed.
'The guys have improved, especially the batting. In the past we struggled to get past 200, but now are getting 250 comfortably. Guys like Courtney, Irfan Ahmed, Tim Smart, Nasir Hameed, Najeeb Amar all batted well. And our bowling has also come on exceptionally,' Singh said.
Hong Kong's build-up to Darwin will include a 10-day visit to Chennai at the end of this month, where Singh will arrange a series of matches against strong local sides. 'There is no substitute for match practice. I know some players will have problems getting time off work, but I would like to see as many as 14 of the players picked coming to Chennai.' Singh said.
Hong Kong are drawn with Uganda, Tanzania and the Cayman Islands in the eight-team Darwin competition. The other group comprises Papua New Guinea, Italy, Fiji and Argentina. The top two from each group enter the semi-finals, with the finalists qualifying for the WCL Division Two.
Squad: Tim Smart (captain), Afzaal Haider, Hussain Butt, Courtney Kruger, Ilyas Gull, Imran Idrees, Irfan Ahmed, Khalid Khan, Mark Eames, Mark Kratzmann, Nadeem Ahmed, Najeeb Amar, Nasir Hameed, Rahul Sharma, Ravi Sujanani, Skhawat Ali, Tabarak Dar, Zain Abbas.