HK drop Irfan Ahmed for Sixes
Irfan Ahmed, Hong Kong's top sixes performer in the past three years and player of the tournament in 2009, has been dropped from the seven-man squad for the Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes this month.
Hong Kong Cricket Association president Shahzada Saleem Ahmed said the star all-rounder's omission was due to 'indiscipline', with coach Charles Burke explaining he had missed five weeks of practice. Irfan joins his brother Nadeem on the sidelines after the latter was dropped from the national squad a few months ago, also on disciplinary grounds.
'Irfan is a great player, I'm a great admirer of him, but he failed to turn up for training,' said Saleem. 'We appreciate we are an amateur team, but we have to train and players have to inform the coach if they cannot attend practices. We will miss Irfan, but we have to maintain discipline.'
Burke said: 'Players have got to show commitment, not only to themselves, but also to the rest of the squad. We didn't see Irfan for five weeks. I rang him once or twice and he said he would turn up but never did. It's a huge shame but he needs to communicate better.'
Irfan, 21, gained attention in 2008 when he finished as the top run-getter at the Sixes. Although he did not win the best player award, Irfan followed that up with another all-round effort in 2009 and one which almost won Hong Kong the Cup title for the first time. That earned him the player of the tournament award. Last year, he finished as the leading batsman for the hosts.
'For the past three years, I have done well for Hong Kong,' Irfan said. 'I'm bitterly disappointed I haven't been picked again. I couldn't go to training due to my work commitments. We have to find our own way as we get nothing from Hong Kong cricket.'I told them I had a new job working for a building contractor. I was really looking forward to playing again at the Sixes and it is very sad.'
Irfan performed poorly at the ICC World Cricket League Division Two tournament in Dubai earlier this year and, according to Burke, had a bout of 'cricket fatigue'. 'Players need to treasure playing for Hong Kong,' Burke said. 'It was the hardest decision in my coaching career to drop Irfan, but I'm certain he will bounce back soon.'
The other missing big-name player is wicketkeeper Khaled Hussain Butt. He has also struggled to find time because of work commitments, but selectors opted to try 18-year-old Babar Hayat, who recently became eligible to play for Hong Kong internationally.
Najeeb Amar will lead the side once again, along with last year's survivors Peter Wooden, Tanvir Afzal and Munir Dar. Nizakat Khan and newcomer Haseeb Amjad make up the rest of the team.
Hong Kong are pooled with Pakistan, India and South Africa in the October 28-30 tournament.