HK rocked as spinner quits World Cup bid

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am

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Hong Kong's campaign for ICC Twenty20 World Cup glory has suffered a blow with left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed pulling out of next month's qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates.

Nadeem, a key part of the 14-strong squad named for the 16-team tournament from March 13-24, pulled out due to personal reasons yesterday, the same day the Hong Kong Cricket Association announced the team would receive a HK$100,000 bonus if they qualified for the World Cup in Sri Lanka in September.

'His loss is huge. Nadeem gives us a lot more options in the bowling department and together with the absence of Mark Chapman we will be depleted in the left-arm spin department,' said Hong Kong coach Charlie Burke.

'It's a shame. This tournament would have given him a wonderful opportunity to showcase his talent to the world,' Burke said. 'But he informed me he is going to start a business management course soon and he couldn't afford the time away.'

Nadeem's absence will not only be detrimental to Hong Kong's hopes of finishing in the top two and qualifying for the World Cup, but on a personal level it could affect his chances of playing at a higher level.

With an eye on the 2015 World Cup (50 overs), the HKCA recently revealed it had plans to embed top players in clubs overseas so they could hone their game. Another area the HKCA is looking at is to try to get more players involved in premier leagues on the subcontinent, especially Bangladesh.

'We nominated three players for the lucrative Bangladesh Premier League this time - Irfan Ahmed [Nadeem's younger brother], Nizakat Khan and Munir Dar - but unfortunately no one was selected. We will keep pushing our players in the future, too,' Burke said.

'The ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers in the UAE will also give individual players the opportunity to make a name for themselves, and, who knows, this could end in clubs in places like Bangladesh.'

The newly established BPL, styled on the Indian Premier League, has said it would give opportunities to players from associate countries.

Nadeem's withdrawal follows an earlier dropout by wicketkeeper batsman Mark Ferguson, for work reasons. Ferguson's place will be filled by Asif Khan, a right-arm medium-fast bowler, while leg-spinner Li Kai-ming comes in for Nadeem.

Meanwhile, HKCA president Shahzada Saleem announced that a bonus of HK$100,000, and more, would be given to the players if they reached the finals and qualified for the World Cup.

'The HKCA has promised HK$100,000, but if the players get to the final I will guarantee they get more.

'It would be a huge achievement and I will raise extra bonuses from the rest of the cricketing community who will undoubtedly support such a great feat,' Saleem said.