China set for world debut at Sixes
China are set to make their first international appearance against test-playing nations at the Sixes tournament in Hong Kong in November.
The Hong Kong Cricket Association has invited Chinese cricket authorities to send their national team to the Hong Kong Sixes on November 6 to 7 at the Kowloon Cricket Club, where they could meet Australia, England and India among others.
'We have been told informally that the China Cricket Association will accept our invitation,' Dinesh Tandon, HKCA chairman, said. 'Our overall policy is to get as close to China as possible and this will be a huge first step.'
The China men's team are in Hong Kong taking part in the Quaid-e-Azam Twenty20 tournament at Mission Road. They booked a place in today's semi-finals by defeating the Hong Kong Cricket Club by 25 runs yesterday.
'It will be a huge step forward for us to play at the Hong Kong Sixes,' said Rashid Khan, the China coach who hails from Pakistan. 'The exposure of playing in a famous tournament will be a big boost to the players, and will be beneficial as it comes just before the Asian Games.'
The Asian Games will commence in Guangzhou on November 12. Cricket - the Twenty20 version - will be a medal sport for the first time. Khan was appointed coach, with one of his goals being to prepare the mainland team for this tournament.
The HKCA has long-term plans to use the new cricket stadium built in Guangzhou for the Asian Games. There are plans to involve mainland sides in the local cricket league and to use the facility as a venue to host international matches.
'We want more involvement with China cricket. And it has been decided that we should invite both the China men's and women's teams to the Hong Kong Sixes,' Tandon said.
Yet the HKCA still has to decide whether the men's team will play in the Hong Kong Sixes, or compete in a number of exhibition matches on the fringes of the two-day tournament.
'We haven't made that decision yet. We don't want them to get hammered in every game as that would be detrimental to their development,' Tandon said. 'They could play a couple of exhibition games during the lunch break, or even on the Friday before the tournament starts.'
Khan said he hoped his team would be involved with the Sixes proper. And as if to prove their worthiness, the team yesterday defeated HKCC, albeit a weakened side missing a number of key players.
'We need to play as many games as possible against overseas teams. This is the only way we can learn and improve,' Khan said.
Opening batsmen Li Jian and Zheng Yufei scored 51 and 48 respectively to set the foundation for a total of 170 for four. In reply, HKCC could manage only 145. China failed to repeat that against KCC in their next pool game, and were bowled out for 47 chasing a target of 151.
China will meet Pakistan Association in one semi-final at the Quaid- e-Azam tournament, while the other will be contested between KCC and Little Sai Wan.
'We are really thankful for the Pakistan consulate for inviting us to this tournament, and the HKCA for inviting us to the Sixes. Every bit of exposure will help China,' Khan said.