Please Mr Pawar, remember HK
Dear Mr Sharad Pawar,
This is an open letter to you, the president of the International Cricket Council, and our sincere hope is that you address some of the issues we will bring up.
The movers and shakers of the world governing body have gathered in Hong Kong today for the start of a five-day conference, which hopefully will deal with some of the pressing issues facing the game, primary among them being whether the World Cup belongs to the world or if it is meant to be a closed shop for the 10 full members. More on that issue later.
To open this innings, and taking a selfish stance, we urge you, the ex-head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), to champion Hong Kong's case when you and your wife, Pratibha, rub shoulders with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen at tomorrow night's ICC Annual Conference cocktails at Hong Kong Club.
It is rare for Tsang to grace a cricketing event in Hong Kong. The local game would love to make the most of this opportunity, and we ask you if you can come to Hong Kong's aid and whisper in his ear the dire needs of local cricket.
An international-sized ground is long overdue in this city. It could be home to the Hong Kong Sixes in the future as well as house the Hong Kong Cricket Association headquarters. Land, as everyone knows, is at a premium in Hong Kong. But this is not to say we don't have a plot somewhere which could be leased long-term to the local game. As HKCA general manager Danny Lai pointed out, it would take less area than a par-three golf hole to provide for a sizeable venue. Yet, only the government can play the role of provider. And one quiet word to Tsang might just do the trick.
We urge you to use your position as a senior figure in the Indian government, the agriculture minister no less, to push Hong Kong's case. After all, the Hong Kong team are now ranked 20th in the world cricketing order.
The lack of a ground of an international standard has been a huge impediment in the growth of the game. At one stage, your own body banned any international fixtures from being held in Hong Kong. Thankfully, that obtuse view was overturned last year when the ICC World Cricket Division Three tournament was awarded to us. And it was a huge success. It was that organisational success that led to the HKCA being awarded this conference.
One thing Hong Kong does well is entertain its guests. No doubt over the next few days you will enjoy the hospitality and see with your own eyes the manifold delights Hong Kong has to offer.
Recently, our dear leader advised the Hong Kong business community to increase ties with India, which he recognised will be a major player on the world stage in the future, if not already. Perhaps, using this as leverage, your whispers could work wonders for Hong Kong cricket. Please help us.
Our chairman, Dinesh Tandon, is one of your countrymen. He, among others, has worked tirelessly to make the Hong Kong Sixes a success. But he is disadvantaged, with one hand tied behind his back, due to the popular tournament not having a ground that could accommodate a larger crowd.
On a more personal note, the tournament has also been hurt by the BCCI's step-motherly treatment in the past - by refusing to send a sanctioned team with a couple of big-name players. We hope all this will change in the future, now that you have come to Hong Kong and seen that we, too, love our cricket.
And talking of love of the game, it is universal, spread among all 95 associate and affiliate members of the ICC who have gathered here. Please, please don't discard them in the World Cup dustbin. The decision taken by the ICC executive board at the end of the World Cup in April in Mumbai to limit the 2015 tournament to the 10 full members was sacrilegious. One the one hand you want to promote the game worldwide and on the other hand you close your flagship event to the rest of the world.
Overturn this decision. And also, please, take serious heed of the overtures made by the president of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, who has suggested that Twenty20 should be in the Games. Doesn't Twenty20 at the 2020 Olympics sound good?
Let's go for it as entry into the Olympic Games will truly make cricket a global sport and bring on nations like China, where huge steps are currently being made - with the help of Hong Kong - to popularise the sport.
So dear Mr Pawar, I hope you and your wife have a great time in Hong Kong. And remember we need you to champion our cause.