Defeat shows new coach scale of task

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 20 October, 2007, 12:00am

It was an inauspicious start for new Hong Kong coach Aftab Habib, who watched his new charges tumble to a 46-run defeat at the hands of a Select XI at Mission Road in a practice Twenty20 game yesterday.

'They need to apply themselves a bit more in their batting and run-chasing. But there are a number of useful cricketers out there,' was Habib's reaction.

First impressions can sometimes be misleading, but Habib seems to have hit the nail on the head when he identified Hong Kong's batting as a problem area. Long-suffering fans of local cricket can easily tell him that it has been the batsmen who have been responsible for many a defeat over the years.

Habib, 35, who played two tests for England in 1999, arrived on Wednesday to take up a three-year term.

'They have good attitude and lots of commitment. I think we have the potential to win games. But a lot of hard work lies ahead and I have a fair indication what needs to be done,' he said.

Despite a composed knock of 49 from Zain Abbas, Hong Kong failed to overhaul the total of 185 set by the Select XI, who had banned brothers Nadeem and Irfan Ahmed in the lien-up. The duo displayed enough skill to show why they will be missed at the ACC Twenty20 championship starting next Friday in Kuwait.

'I think this is the best thing that could have happened - going away with the guys for two weeks where we can eat and breathe cricket. I can get to know the guys,' Habib said.

Habib will be hoping for a performance he can build on as he looks ahead to the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou when cricket (Twenty20) makes its debut.

'But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. A lot of hard work is in front of us. I see this job as a great opportunity for me to make my name on the international scene as a coach. In this same way, I want the guys also to take up the challenge and perform to their potential,' he said.