England to use Sixes as launching pad
Five-time champions England will use this month's Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes as a development tool to launch players on to the international stage.
'We have a couple of key players who if they go well at the Hong Kong Sixes, it can be the ignition for a long career in international cricket,' England manager Chris Adams said. 'In recent years you can see teams like South Africa and Australia are taking the event much more seriously as a development weapon and a way of looking at potential players.'
England return for the October 28-30 tournament with a mix of talented all-rounders. Four players figured last year, including Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown (pictured), who will once again lead the team. The others who have had Sixes experience are Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens, Warwickshire fast bowler Rikki Clarke and Somerset opener Peter Trego. The latter turned out in the Champions Twenty20 League last week where Somerset reached the semi-finals.
But the players to watch out for are Lancashire opener Tom Smith, exciting Leicestershire batsman Josh Cobb and England and Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper Chris Read, who will all be hoping to play a part in extending England's role as the most successful side in the tournament.
'I am very excited about this squad,' Adams said. 'The challenge has to be nothing less than to go and win the tournament, and for the players to show what self-belief and ability they have got in the short form of the game.'
England's last Cup success was in 2008 and they will be eager to make up for a couple of poor showings. They bowed out early in a rain-sodden tournament last year, but Adams believes the experience learned last year, especially by skipper Hamilton-Brown, will stand the side in good stead this time.
'I think having been there last year will help Rory. He wasn't quite sure how to approach the tournament and where to play himself But with last year's experience, it will help him to bring the side together in the best way possible,' Adams said.
England are drawn with defending champions Australia, Ireland and Bangladesh in the preliminary round The event has been expanded to a 12-team contest and is being played over three days for the first time.