Teenage bowler earns call-up for Dubai squad
Teenager Max Tucker will be the only new face in the 14-strong Hong Kong squad for next month's date with destiny in Dubai, when local cricket bids to join the big boys in the associate world as well as ensure a big payday for the sport.
Tucker, 18, will replace Tabarak Dar from the squad that won the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament in January, earning promotion to the Division Two competition from April 8-15 in Dubai.
'We are very impressed with him. Not only did he do well at last month's Under-19 ACC Trophy in Thailand, but he has also been performing consistently in the domestic league,' Hong Kong head coach Charlie Burke said.
Right-arm medium-fast bowler Tucker, who took five wickets against Malaysia in the under-19 tournament, has been a model of consistency for HKCC Wanderers in the First Division with 20 wickets at an average of 17.10.
'It is important to start rewarding players for doing well in the domestic competition,' Burke said. 'Max will give us another option in bowling.'
The selectors have kept faith with the rest of the team, who will be captained once again by all-rounder Najeeb Amar with opener Courtney Kruger the vice-captain. Hong Kong are aiming to finish in the top four of the six-team competition and thus ensure they get an annual high-performance grant of US$300,000 from the world governing body.
They will face Bermuda, Uganda, Namibia, the United Arab Emirates and Papua New Guinea in the round-robin competition. The top two teams will be promoted to Division One.
Burke will take seven players - Tucker, Hussain Butt, Asif Khan, Waqas Barkat, Nizakat Khan, Nadeem Ahmed and Aizaz Khan - for a 10-day training trip to Perth.
'I would have liked to have taken the whole squad but unfortunately not everyone can get the time off,' Burke said. 'But at least half the side is better than nothing at all. They will have intensive training as well as play a couple of games. The rest of the squad will continue training here.'
Hong Kong squad: Nadeem Ahmed, Irfan Ahmed, Najeeb Amar, Waqas Barkat, Hussain Butt, Asif Khan, Courtney Kruger, Roy Lamsam, Nizakat Khan, Mark Chapman, Aizaz Khan, Max Tucker, Adil Mehmood, Munir Dar.