Saeed hangs up hockey stick ... for a bat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 August, 2010, 12:00am

Former Hong Kong hockey captain Farooq Saeed has exchanged his stick for a bat and is making a strong run to appear in his fifth Asian Games in Guangzhou in November as a cricketer.

Saeed has been named in a 15-strong squad which will leave next Tuesday for Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea to play in a quadrangular tournament which will also serve as a yardstick before coach Charlie Burke names his Asian Games squad.

'I hope to win a place in the squad and I have been working hard towards that goal,' Saeed said. 'I have retired from hockey, and now I can devote my time to my other passion - cricket.'

Saeed has represented Hong Kong at four Asian Games, beginning with 1990. He captained the team for more than 12 years and his final appearance before retiring was at the East Asian Games last December when Hong Kong clinched a bronze medal while defeating China.

'I first played at the Asian Games in 1990 and barring 1994, when we did not send a team, appeared at every Games finishing four years ago in Doha,' Saeed said. 'Now I hope I can play a fifth Games, but in a different sport.

'I always had a passion for cricket, and I play in the Saturday League. But I had to choose between the two sports on Sunday and couldn't play cricket due to my hockey commitments. Now that I have retired, I will devote more time to cricket.'

The former central defender has never represented Hong Kong at cricket - until now, having been named in the squad which will take part in the Papua New Guinea warm-up to the Asian Games where Twenty20 will feature. The quadrangular series from September 1-5 will be a useful barometer for coach Burke as he can assess the form of Asian Games' rivals Malaysia and Singapore, who, along with the host nation, will make up the competition. 'We will be playing both the 50-overs format as well as the Twenty20 one,' Burke said. 'We will have different teams for each format and it will be a useful build-up to the Asian Games.'

Burke will also look at players outside this squad before naming his final selection for Guangzhou. A number of players, including the Ahmed brothers Irfan and Nadeem, were unavailable for the PNG trip. Only players who hold a Hong Kong SAR passport or were born in Hong Kong are eligible to play at the Asian Games for Hong Kong.

Hong Kong: Jamie Atkinson, Niaz Ali, Asif Khan, Najeeb Amar, Roy Lamsam, Khalid Khan, Zafaran Ali, Li Kai-ming, Farooq Saeed, Ilyas Gull, Waqas Barkat, Jason Lui, Aizaz Khan, Nicholas Lau, Bobby Chan Ka-ming.

Coach: Charlie Burke, Assistant coach: Jawaid Iqbal.