Hong Kong Sixes organisers have pulled off a coup by signing the world's most prolific hitters of sixes - Shahid Afridi and Sanath Jayasuriya. Now they are targeting a third swashbuckling superstar - West Indian Chris Gayle.
It will be non-stop action with Afridi and Jayasuriya signing up for the All-Stars at next month's Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes at Kowloon Cricket Club.
'Who else can be better than these two to turn up at our Sixes?' asked overjoyed Hong Kong Cricket Association president Shahzada Saleem. 'They are both outstanding batsmen who can tear apart any attack and getting the world's top two leading hitters of sixes is a huge coup for us.'
Saleem then answered his own question when he revealed they were also chasing Gayle (pictured).
'We have confirmed six of the seven players for the All-Stars and we are now talking to Chris Gayle. We hope he will be able to come and his presence will round off a very, very powerful team,' Saleem said. The other confirmed All-Stars are South African opener Herschelle Gibbs, another attacking batsman who is also an outstanding cover fielder; Australian spearhead Shaun Tait; Pakistani all-rounder Abdul Razzaq; and the ICC's 2011 associate player of the year, Ryan ten Doeschate of the Netherlands.
Pakistan's Afridi and Sri Lankan Jayasuriya have shared a raft of quickfire batting records, including the fastest hundred and fastest fifty. But it is the record for the most number of sixes in one-day internationals that has raised organisers' expectations for the October 28-30 showpiece.
'It will be raining sixes with Afridi and Jayasuriya,' Saleem said. 'We have got together one of the strongest teams to play for the All-Stars at the Sixes.' Afridi holds the record for the most number of ODI sixes with a staggering 289 in his career. He overhauled masterblaster Jayasuriya, who held the mark on 270. Jayasuriya and Afridi also each hold the record for the fastest half-century and century, respectively, in ODIs, each having broken the other's.
Jayasuriya belted a 17-ball fifty and is the only player to score more than 13,000 runs and take more than 300 wickets in ODIs.
Afridi was the standout bowler at this year's World Cup. The leg-spinner was the joint-highest wicket-taker with 21. He also holds the record for scoring the fastest hundred, off just 37 balls, another record he claimed from Jayasuriya who held the previous mark - 48 balls. While the All-Stars will be gunning for the top prize at the Sixes, which for the first time will be played over three days, they will also play a Twenty20 match on the opening day against a team made up from the remaining opposition.
The All-Stars will include two players from the mainland to make the numbers up to nine - due to the small-sized KCC ground - and will figure in the first 'international' Twenty20 on local soil. This match is part of the new-look Sixes, which has been expanded to 12 teams. The new teams also include associate members Ireland and Scotland.
The All-Stars have been drawn with Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Scotland in pool A. Australia head pool B, which also comprises England, Bangladesh and Ireland, while pool C is made up of Pakistan, India, South Africa and Hong Kong.
The career record held by Shahid Afridi for the most sixes hit in one-day internationals
- He has hit the fastest 100, off just 37 balls