Bright sunshine but no cricket: call for HKCA to have its own ground
Sunday’s play at the Hong Kong T20 Blitz was called off because of the downpour on Saturday
The local cricket community were left disappointed and frustrated by the cancellation of all play on Sunday at the DTC Mobile Hong Kong T20 Blitz at Mission Road
But there was also a measure of hope that the authorities will now see the importance of having a dedicated ground to support the sport.
Although it hardly rained on Sunday – with the sun shining in patches – the Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA) cancelled play at 8.15am.
The decision frustrated the owners of joint winners Kowloon Cantons, who had brought in former Australia captain Michael Clarke to play for them and who ended up sharing the title with Woodworm Island Warriors. Hung Hom JD Jaguars and GII Lantau Galaxy Riders were the other teams.
“It’s difficult to understand how a national body [HKCA] does not own its own ground,” said Urvashi Sethi, one of the Cantons owners. “It’s the first time Hong Kong is hosting a tournament like this and we don’t have a ground that is playable when the sun is shining because of the rain the day before.
“This tournament has the potential to become bigger than the [rugby] sevens. It’s a wake-up call. We’re not blaming anyone but we’re just questioning why Hong Kong cricket can’t take control of a ground.”
Australian umpire Paul Wilson made the call on Sunday morning after an inspection. The problem area is the lowest parts of the Mission Road outfield, according to tournament chief Max Abbot, who said the HKCA was making efforts to take greater control of the venue.
Currently, the Leisureand Cultural Services Department has responsibility for maintaining the ground, which is sanctioned as an official one-day venue for associate members by world governing body ICC.
“We are very disappointed,” said Abbot. “We had a bit of sunlight as well [on Sunday] but the damage was done yesterday [Saturday] during the storm. At the moment the way the ground is set up when there is heavy rain it takes a long time to recover.
“Hopefully something can be addressed over the next few months so in the future we won’t have this problem. But overall we need to be really proud with what we have achieved and the general good feeling of the local and global cricket community.
“We are surprised at how big it got so quickly and certainly we’ve done enough in the first year to show that this concept can make a real difference to the landscape of cricket in Hong Kong.”
The first match on Friday was reduced to a five-over game while on Saturday one game had to be decided by Duckworth/Lewis while the third match was abandoned after five overs.
Sethi said she was disappointed that the drainage system at Mission Road was unable to cope with Saturday’s downpour.
“I’m in shock because we had bright sunshine yet the matches couldn’t be played,” said Sethi, who praised Abbott and his team for the way they had put the tournament together in such a short time. “If it was still raining It wouldn’t have been an issue but where in the cricket world do they not play when the sun is shining?”
Abbott was reluctant to lay blame on the LCSD, saying the government department did all it could to make the ground ready given they only had two months notice.
However, he agreed that the HKCA needed a ground of its own.
“Absolutely, it’s something that is a priority for Tim [Cutler, HKCA CEO] and all at the HKCA,” said Abbott. “If we are able to get control over the venue, we can bring it up to a standard that is befitting of the type of events we are hosting.
“We are no longer a region that hosts just club cricket. We are hosting big international events, including the T20 Blitz. To have it wiped out is a little bit embarrassing and it is something that needs to be addressed.
“We continue to work with the government and LCSD to find solutions. I think on the back of this tournament and the traction that it had, hopefully now the voice of the Hong Kong cricket community will grow a little louder.”
Sethi said the bad weather would not affect the Cantons owners’ dedication to the tournament.
“We are committed to the Cantons and we are committed to the concept of this tournament,” she said. “We’re not here for one year.
“We’re also not here just to win but also to support Hong Kong cricket and make this event successful.”