Icc goes out to bat for hong kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 June, 2011, 12:00am
 

High-powered International Cricket Council power-brokers, Sharad Pawar and Haroon Lorgat, went out to bat for Hong Kong last night and asked Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to assist the local game in any way the government could. Their plea was welcomed by local officials.

ICC chief executive Lorgat (pictured) in a welcome address at yesterday's ICC annual conference cocktail, touched upon the long history of the game in Hong Kong - 'back to 1861' - and intimated that the sport locally would welcome help from the government. Pawar, the ICC president, followed Lorgat on to the stage at the posh Hong Kong Club, and in his toast mentioned that Hong Kong, hosting the annual conference for the first time, would be grateful for any assistance. He asked everyone to raise their glasses, but didn't have one of his own.

'I come from a state in India, Maharashtra, where there is prohibition. But I'm sure that is not a problem in Hong Kong,' joked Pawar, who is also the minister of agriculture in the Indian cabinet.

The only problem Hong Kong cricket faces is a lack of grounds. And after the show of support last night, Hong Kong Cricket Association officials were optimistic that Tsang and the Hong Kong government would chip in and help.

'The mere presence of Donald Tsang today was a huge boost for the sport in Hong Kong and I hope he will help us out,' said HKCA president Shahzada Saleem.

HKCA secretary John Cribbin, who is also part of the ICC's chief executives committee representing the associate members, said: 'We were absolutely delighted that the chief executive accepted our invitation and showed his support for the game by welcoming our overseas guests. We hope he listened to what the ICC said, and realises that cricket is an important international game and that Hong Kong is a part of that.

'We are not a big player but we are an important small player. There are a lot of grounds for optimism.,'

Former HKCA president John Hung added: 'By turning up, Donald Tsang has given face to Hong Kong cricket. We can only wait in hope.'

The most pressing need for the local game, currently riding high on the international scene having acquired ICC high-performance status and being ranked 20th in the world, is grounds. The HKCA has ambitions of having its own grounds and headquarters, but for that to be realised, it needs government help.

In another boost for Hong Kong, the ICC said its chief executives' committee had recommended a qualifying process for the 2015 World Cup, without specifying how many teams it wanted to see taking part.

The 35-strong associate members, who also met yesterday, had put forward their views to Pawar, and it is almost certain the ICC executive board - which meets today and tomorrow - will reverse its decision taken on April 4 in Mumbai to limit the 2015 World Cup to only the 10 full members.

'We put our views across to Mr Pawar and he appreciated our case,' Cribbin said. 'There is a very good chance the decision will be overturned, and I'm more optimistic than pessimistic. But we don't know as yet what the qualifying process will be.'

Hong Kong is hoping the ICC will revert to the qualifying process which was in place, where the top 10 associate teams would meet in 2013 in Scotland to decide who goes through to the 2015 tournament in Australia and New Zealand. If this is the case, Hong Kong is assured of annual funding of US$350,000 from the ICC.

'The CEC recommended that there should be a qualification process for the 2015 World Cup but did not make a recommendation to the ICC executive board on the number of teams that should compete in the event,' the ICC said.

In another development, India said it had agreed to a modified version of the controversial Umpire Decision Review System, bringing to an end a damaging row that threatened to tear apart international cricket. The DRS will become mandatory in all tests and one-day international matches, the BCCI announced, but without Hawkeye.

Narayanaswami Srinivasan, the president-elect of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said in a statement on the BBCI website that they were willing to 'embrace technology' but added that Hawkeye 'is not acceptable to the board'. India will use the DRS for the first time during their tour of England next month.

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