Hong Kong must learn to run for their runs
By ALVIN SALLAY
HONG KONG meet Singapore in the final of the MBf Tuanku Ja'afar Cup today at the Hong Kong Cricket Club.
This was expected. So far the annual quadrangular tournament has run to form. Nothing untoward has happened as the territory have merrily rolled their opponents aside.
Yesterday's 208 run hammering of Thailand followed other massive wins in the preliminary round over Singapore (by 107 runs) and Malaysia (by 151 runs).
At the moment, it seems that Hong Kong's worst enemy can be found within their own ranks - poor running between the wickets is the cause for concern and should be addressed immediately if the territory are to make a realistic challenge against stiffer opposition in the future.
Looking at the breakdown of the territory's three innings in this tournament, most of the runs have come from boundaries. Against Malaysia, 162 of the 271 total came off fours and sixes. Against Thailand yesterday, it was 170 of the 317 total. Only against Singapore was the trend reversed with boundaries accounting for only 132 of the 282 total.
The bowling the local batsmen have faced so far has been mediocre, thus resulting in a bounty of boundaries. Will this be the case, say, when Hong Kong tour Bangladesh over Chinese New Year? Will the Bangladeshi bowlers be so accommodating? Highly unlikely.
Runs will have to be earned the hard way. From ones and twos. In this department, the Hong Kong batsmen have not shone apart from some good running between the wicket from captain Pat Fordham and Riaz Farcy in the game against Singapore.
The most notable feature of yesterday's match was an all-run four between Fordham and John Storey. A rare feat indeed, more the exception than the rule.
Hong Kong's most accomplished batsman, Rahul Sharma has highlighted the malaise. He has been involved in running out openers Rory MacLeay (against Malaysia) and Stewart Brew (against Thailand yesterday).
Poor calling, judgment and hesitation have all contributed towards the general bad running between the wickets by most of the Hong Kong batsmen. They have to look at this aspect of their game and try to put more pressure on the fielders.
Thankfully for Hong Kong, the opponents have not been able to turn the screws with any tight bowling.
Sharma made up for running Brew out yesterday with a masterful 118. It was not surprising that most of his runs came off boundaries (12 fours and four sixes).