HK wins approval to host first major ICC tournament
Hong Kong has been given the green light by the International Cricket Council to host the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament in January.
'This is a great honour for us. It's the first time Hong Kong will host a major ICC tournament,' Hong Kong Cricket Association president Shahzada Saleem said.
Six teams - Hong Kong, the United States, Nepal, Oman, Papua New Guinea and Denmark - will take part from January 22 to 29 at three venues in the city, and in Guangzhou at the purpose-built stadium for the Asian Games.
The tournament is part of a lengthy qualifying process for the 2015 World Cup.
'We will play three matches in mainland China,' HKCA general manager Danny Lai said. 'All the teams will get an opportunity to play in Guangzhou and it will be a novel experience.'
The three Hong Kong venues will be the Hong Kong Cricket Club, the Kowloon Cricket Club and the newly laid turf facility at Mission Road. The ICC had needed assurances that the pitch would be ready to host an international fixture.
'We have been given assurances by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department that the ground will be ready. They are going to carry out maintenance on the turf pitch,' Lai said.
The ICC needed every ground to be ready and tested three months before the tournament began and, according to Lai, that has been guaranteed by the HKCA, resulting in Hong Kong landing its first major international event outside the Sixes.
'This all began last year when the ICC president David Morgan visited us for the Hong Kong Sixes. We then made it known to him that Hong Kong would like to host more international matches,' Saleem said.
'The best thing is Hong Kong will be in the international limelight, while at the same time we don't have to spend a penny for hosting the tournament. The ICC will bear all costs,' Saleem said.
The competition will be played on a single round-robin format, with the top two teams qualifying for the ICC World Cricket League Division Two.
Over the boundary
The number of teams in Hong Kong's first major ICC event, the World Cricket League Division Three tournament: 6