HK U-15s ejected after age tests

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 December, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong officials have raised strenuous objections after the Under-15 team was disqualified from the Asian Cricket Council Under-15 Elite Cup in Kathmandu, Nepal following bone tests which had apparently revealed three over-aged players in the 14-strong squad.

Hong Kong and seven other participating teams were thrown out at the tail end of the 11-day tournament following the results of X-rays done to verify the age of the cricketers.

'We have protested against the use of this age-verification process. Our view is that official documents like passports and ID cards should count first before an X-ray test,' said Ravi Nagdev, a member of the Hong Kong Cricket Association's executive committee.

Nagdev, chairman of the HKCA development committee, said: 'Nowhere in the rules of the competition does it say that bone testing will be used primarily to judge the age of a player. We know that in the sub-continent, there are cases where people are not properly registered at birth, and so the need to have a bone test to verify the age.

'But this is not the case with the Hong Kong squad. We even had a player who comes from the United States, whose documentation is now being questioned as false,' added Nagdev.

The tests carried out by the ACC had revealed over-aged players in all the 10 teams taking part - Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Malaysia, Singapore, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and hosts Nepal.

But Kuwait and Singapore escaped disqualification as they had only two players each who were found to be over-age, and as such within the tournament rules which says teams found with 'three or more' over-aged players will be barred. Kuwait and Singapore will now meet in the final today.

ACC chief executive Syed Ashraful Huq said: 'Our age-verification protocols have been tested and proven to work. We stand by the results found and take heart that the integrity of our tournaments is assured.

'In the long-run, cricket in Asia will benefit. Results such as this should act as an eye-opener to all our members. Our principles will always remain true to the secure development of cricket.'

Hong Kong Under-15 coach Sher Lama said: 'We are protesting against these tests. In any case, these results should have been known before the tournament began, and not at the end of it.'

Hong Kong had reached the semi-finals of the competition and were due to meet Afghanistan. The other semi-final was to be between Nepal and Singapore.

A media statement released by the ACC said: 'Following the conclusion of the group stage on November 30, the only two countries with less than three over-age players in their squads are Kuwait and Singapore. In some instances, participating squads have had seven, eight and nine over-age players.'

It is understood that the host nation had nine over-aged boys, Oman had eight and Afghanistan had seven.

All countries had been asked to provide the appropriate medical data on each of their players before the tournament started.

They had not complied and as a result 140 radiology examinations - each team has 14 players - were done. The ACC age-verification programme has been in place since 2005.