Let's step up to World Cup challenge, says Tandon
Top official Dinesh Tandon called on Hong Kong to step up to the challenge after the International Cricket Council handed the city's weekend cricketers a tough assignment to qualify for the 2015 World Cup.
The ICC said Hong Kong would have just one chance to get a berth after announcing the qualifying pathway for the four places reserved for associate countries at the next World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand.
Instead of the former one qualifying tournament - which was to be played in Scotland in 2013 and would have involved 10 teams - the ICC has split it into two tournaments.
The first one will be for the six teams in the ICC World Cricket League Division One - Afghanistan, Ireland, Canada, Kenya, Scotland and the Netherlands - plus the top two teams in Division Two, which are Namibia and the United Arab Emirates.
The top two from this tournament will book direct berths in the World Cup. The remaining six will then play another qualifier that will also involve Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong, the third and fourth-placed teams in World Cricket League Division Two, to decide the last two places.
'Hong Kong is in with a shot at qualifying for the 2015 World Cup,' said Tandon, Hong Kong Cricket Association chairman. 'We have a specific pathway in front of us and it is now up to us to make the best use of the opportunity.
'Obviously the format of qualification has changed and it is by no means easy for us to qualify, but then this is what it is and it is definitely better than not having an opportunity at all. We have to remain positive, put in the hard yards and hope for the best.'
At its conference in Hong Kong this year, the ICC revoked its decision to make the 2015 tournament solely for its 10 full members, and decided to go ahead with a 14-team event. At the time it wasn't clear what the format would be. While no dates have been pencilled in, Hong Kong at least know what they have to do.
It is widely expected that Ireland, and perhaps Scotland or Kenya, will book the first two places. This will leave Hong Kong fighting it out for just two places - instead of four - and up against a very competitive field.
'This is by far the biggest 18-20 months facing Hong Kong at the highest level, and we have to plan, develop and ensure we don't miss this opportunity,' national coach Charlie Burke said.