Two Hong Kong women cricketers banned for pulling out of Asia Cup squad
Two players withdraw from the women's squad for the Asia Cup because they feel Hong Kong have no chance without their ineligible skipper
Two leading Hong Kong women cricketers have been banned for a year after their "crazy" decision to withdraw from the squad competing at this week's Asian Cricket Council Women's Twenty20 Asia Cup in Guangzhou
Connie Wong Ar-yan and Keenu Gill decided to skip the tournament because they felt the team stood no chance after skipper Neisha Pratt was dropped because of eligibility issues. Teams are only allowed to field players who could take part at the Asian Games but with Pratt not being Hong Kong-born or of Asian parentage, she had to pull out.
Wong, captain of the women's team at the 2010 Asian Games, and Gill a former Under-23 captain, then walked out on the side, leading to their ban by the Hong Kong Cricket Association.
The ban was described as "harsh" by Pratt but national coach Charlie Burke, who leaves with the rest of the squad today for Guangzhou, said the move by Wong and Gill was "crazy".
"We were dealt a blow when Neisha had to pull out due to the eligibility requirements. This led to Connie and Keenu also saying they were pulling out. They apparently felt that without Neisha, our best player, Hong Kong would not be a force and as such decided to drop out. It was a crazy move on their part," Burke said.
A third player also pulled out - Yasmin Daswani - but her unavailability was apparently because she was overseas and unable to join the team.
Pratt threw her support behind the banned pair. "This is a level-three ban and it is very harsh. We are appealing it," said Pratt, who plays alongside Wong for Pakistan Association in the domestic league.
Pratt added: "All three of us played a huge part in qualifying for this tournament and it is really disappointing that we will not be going to Guangzhou."
Hong Kong won the qualifying tournament in Kuwait last year for one of four spots available against test-playing nations India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the Asia Cup.
"It is absurd that the ACC should now bar players who took part in the qualifying tournament last year. They brought in these new rules only recently," said Pratt.
Wong was unavailable for comment yesterday.
"This has all left a sour taste but what it has done is given others an opportunity. The show will go on. Hopefully the rest of the squad can put what has happened behind them and get on with the job," Burke said.
Jaswinder Kaur and Alvina Tam have been drafted in to replace Wong and Gill, while Ishitaa Gidwani will take over the captaincy with Mariko Hill as her deputy. The rest of the squad comprises Betty Chan, Kary Chan, Chan Sau-ha, Annie Ho, Amanda Kwok, Emma Lai, Godiva Li, Dominique McCusker, Shanzeen Shazhad, Pull To and Natural Yip.
Hong Kong will join Thailand, Nepal and hosts China, alongside national teams from the four test-playing nations in the tournament being played at the same venue where the 2010 Asian Games cricket competition was held.