Former Lankan star to help HK U19s

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 September, 2009, 12:00am

The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has offered the services of former Sri Lanka fast bowler Rumesh Ratnayake to help Hong Kong prepare for the ICC Under 19 World Cup in New Zealand next year.

'We have been informed by Bandula Warnapura [ACC development manager] that Ratnayake would be available if we needed him,' Danny Lai, Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA) general manager, said yesterday.

Ratnayake (pictured), a development officer with the Asian governing body, is in charge of a number of countries and territories, including Hong Kong, China and Nepal. If Hong Kong take up the offer, he will arrive two weeks before the World Cup in January to assist coach Aftab Habib.

'This is unprecedented for the ACC to assign a development officer. Not only will be train the squad, he will also accompany the team to the World Cup and play an advisory role to Aftab Habib,' Lai said.

'His presence would be invaluable. Rumesh has extensive experience and understanding of the Hong Kong team. He came to train them for one month prior to the qualifying tournament in Toronto,' Lai added.

Hong Kong were one of six teams to book their berth for the World Cup earlier this month. They will join the 10 test-playing nations at the January 16-30 tournament.

The draw which has been announced will see Hong Kong based in Christchurch in group A which includes India, England and Afghanistan. The 16 teams are split into four groups of four in the preliminary round robin competition.

'It is a tough draw as we are up against two of the best Under 19 teams,' said John Cribbin, HKCA secretary. 'The top two teams from each pool enter the Cup competition and the other two will go to the Plate.'

It is the first time that Hong Kong will be featuring in a cricket World Cup - at any level - and the HKCA is hopeful the presence of the Jamie Atkinson-led team in New Zealand will help raise the profile of the game locally.