Li Kai-ming keen to make most of T20 Blitz and take Hong Kong cricket to the next level
Galaxy Riders player feels a responsibility to make the sport more popular among members of the local community
Li Kai-ming wants to use the DTC Mobile Hong Kong T20 Blitz as a platform to showcase cricket to the city’s local community.
The Hong Kong and Dragons cricketer is the only Hong Kong-born Chinese player among the four franchises in the tournament, which starts on Friday at Mission Road.
And the 24-year-old spinner is hoping a strong performance for his GII Lantau Galaxy Riders outfit against local and overseas rivals this weekend will help raise the profile of cricket in Hong Kong.
“I do feel I have a responsibility and I’d like to get more Chinese people in Hong Kong to play cricket,” said Li, whose team kick off the tournament on Friday against Hung Hom JD Jaguars.
“I want to show them that cricket is an interesting sport, more than football or basketball. It’s fun to play, it’s a game where you never give up because things can change at the last minute.
“I know cricket is being promoted in schools in Hong Kong. If I can do well here, hopefully it can generate more interest.”
According to the Hong Kong Cricket Association, there are about 30 Hong Kong Chinese cricketers in the senior domestic set-up, out of about 660 players.
Li is not the first Chinese player to make the grade in Hong Kong. In the 1990s, former Diocesan Boys School player Eddie Tse featured for Hong Kong in the Cricket Sixes and before him was Benny Kwong Wo, who learned the game as a groundsman.
Will Sheridan, who won the Hong Kong Sixes with Australia in 2010, has been recruited by the Woodworm Island Warriors and is also keen to play a pioneering role in the success of the Hong Kong tournament.
“T20 is a very popular format of the game, it’s huge worldwide and I think it’ll be an amazing thing for this region to have a competition like this,” said Sheridan, who played six years ago with Australian internationals David Warner and Glenn Maxwell.
“There is a lot of interest back in Australia. When I told players back home about it, many of them said they would be interested in playing. Everyone loves Hong Kong and everyone loves cricket.
“We always want to win and it will be great to hold the cup at the end. I think it will be huge for this part of the world.”
Kowloon Cantons are likely to start as favourites for the Blitz, having recruited former Australian captain Michael Clarke and a strong supporting cast of domestic players such as big-hitting Babar Hayat, ex-Aussie international Ryan Campbell and HKCA chief executive Tim Cutler, among others.
Hayat said that while the Cantons are looking to win the tournament he was also looking at the bigger picture in terms of Hong Kong cricket.
“It’s more about showing the world that Hong Kong can be a cricket centre,” he said. “We can get players from Australia’s Big Bash and of course, the legendary Michael Clarke.
“We want to show that Hong Kong has the ability to hold a good tournament and that it can get better and better down the years.”
The Jaguars have sorted out their line-up after the Indian cricket board refused to allow two Mumbai players to join the team, recruiting Jonathan Foo, a West Indian-Chinese player, and Australian Craig Simmons, who played for the Adelaide Strikers in last year’s Big Bash.
“I think we are well placed with our overseas players,” said Jaguars captain Kinchit Shah. “We have one of the best batting sides in the tournament.”