Blow for HK as Chapman misses T20 bid for school
Top-order batsman Mark Chapman has been forced to pull out of Hong Kong's campaign to qualify for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup after the New Zealand school he is boarded at made it through to the National Championship.
The young talent had earlier informed the Hong Kong selectors that he might have to stay and play for King's College in Auckland, one of the top cricketing schools in New Zealand, if they qualified for the championship.
They have done so, prompting 16-year-old Chapman to drop out of the 14-strong Hong Kong squad bound for Nepal at the end of this month.
And in another blow to preparations, Hong Kong have been forced to change their travel plans at the last minute after a number of Pakistani-born players failed to get their visas in time for India.
The squad will now travel to Colombo, Sri Lanka, for a series of warm-up games before the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Twenty20 Cup starts in Kathmandu on December 1.
Hong Kong-born Chapman, an attacking left-handed batsman, has always made it clear that his long-term plans include playing for New Zealand, where his father comes from. Unfortunately, there has been a clash in dates with the December 1-10 ACC Twenty20 coinciding with the school championship.
'This is an important step for Mark in his quest to represent New Zealand one day,' Hong Kong head coach Charlie Burke said.
'It is unfortunate for us that he will one day stop representing [the city], so that he can play for New Zealand, but we cannot be selfish and we must encourage him to play at the highest level possible.
'We will miss Mark in the top order, but it will give someone else, like Nizakat [Khan] or Courtney [Kruger] a chance to bat higher than first thought,' Burke said.
Chapman (pictured) played a crucial role as he ensured Hong Kong won the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament and then stayed in Division Two, enabling Hong Kong to achieve high-performance status. His place in the squad will be filled by Asif Khan.
The team led by Jamie Atkinson will, meanwhile, make a detour, going to Colombo instead of Mumbai as originally planned. They will play three or four warm-up games against top club sides before leaving for the 10-team ACC tilt in Kathmandu.
'A few of our players have had problems getting their Indian visas,' Burke said. 'Although we might have got them on time, it was too much of a risk to take and could have interrupted our preparations if we had players missing [in] the pre-tour matches.'
Hong Kong's goal in Kathmandu is to ensure they finish in the top four: pre-tournament favourites and top seeds Afghanistan should also reach the final four and are already assured of a berth in the world qualifiers in Dubai next March.
The top three teams from Asia will join the rest of the world in a final qualifying event to decide which two associate countries join the 10 test-playing nations at the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka next summer.