Sponsorship and TV deals to boost domestic game
Lights, camera and millions of dollars will result in the domestic game receiving a huge shot in the arm as it cements gains made on the international scene.
Hong Kong Cricket Association officials were delighted after a HK$5 million sponsorship deal was signed with KARP Group, a title sponsor of the Hong Kong Sixes, which will run up to 2015.
And, for the first time in its history, the domestic game will be shown on local television with NOW TV covering the Elite Players Series (EPS) which gets under way today at Mission Road. 'These are two huge and significant steps forward for the local game,' HKCA chairman Dinesh Tandon said. 'It was important to generate funds outside the Hong Kong Sixes and this money and television coverage will help us attract more players.'
NOW TV will present highlight packages of the EPS, which will run until June 11, while KARP Group Jewellery has committed more than HK$5 million for cricket-related activities locally, including the Sixes.
'They [KARP Group] have a budget of HK$5 million to spend on cricket-related activities over the next five years,' Tandon said.
'It is important to create channels to improve visibility of cricket. The objective is to broaden the base and reach out to as many people as possible. Getting television coverage and attracting KARP Group to sponsor our elite series hopefully is a big step in achieving our objectives of promoting, developing and sustaining the game.'
KARP Group Jewellery chairman Ramesh Maldar said: 'I am a sportsman and I love cricket. We trust and have confidence the Hong Kong Cricket Association can expand and improve local cricket with the help of our sponsorship. For a sponsorship to be successful and meaningful it has to be on a long-term, rather than ad hoc basis. We have a five-year plan with a more than HK$5 million budget to sponsor the HKCA in all cricket development aspects. The 2011 Elite Player Series is only the beginning of our plan.'
NOW Sports vice-president Lai Yu-ching said: 'Although we are a commercial station, it is also our mission to help development of local sports. To broadcast the Elite Players Series is only the first step of our partnership with Hong Kong cricket.'
This series will feature 42 senior and junior players - most of them eligible to play for Hong Kong - split into three teams who will play in both a Twenty20 and 50-overs competition. At the end of this tournament an 18-strong Hong Kong national squad will be chosen for the next 12 months.
The next major overseas assignment will be December's ACC Twenty20 in Nepal from which the top three teams will move on to the world qualifiers for next summer's ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.