Six Hong Kong cricketers to benefit from overseas stints

It is hoped that exposure to a higher level will boost their skills ahead of world T20 qualifiers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 5:04am

Six players will spend the next couple of months overseas as Hong Kong fine-tune preparations for the world qualifiers in November when six tickets are available to associate countries for the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next year.

Skipper Jamie Atkinson, deputy Waqas Barkat, Irfan Ahmed, Babar Hayat, Nizakat Khan and Aizaz Khan have been assigned overseas tours of duty as Hong Kong seek their first World Cup tournament in any format.

"We have decided that these players be exposed to a higher level of cricket overseas. It will help their game and hopefully help Hong Kong qualify for the World Twenty20 next year," said head coach Charlie Burke.

The emphasis will be on improving batting skills, an aspect where Hong Kong fared fairly in the Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 in Kathmandu, where they booked their ticket for the world qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates by finishing fourth.

Waqas and Irfan will travel to Darwin, Australia, while Babar and Nizakat will play in the Sri Lanka under-23 domestic competition. Atkinson and Aizaz will go to UK.

These six players have been identified as vital to Hong Kong's campaign. After their overseas stints, they will join the rest of the squad in the months before the UAE assignment.

"We plan to go in early October to Queensland to play a number of Twenty20 games as well as a couple of 50-overs matches as we also look ahead to the World Cup [50 overs] qualifying tournament early next year in New Zealand," Burke said.

"But right now the main emphasis is on Twenty20. With six teams qualifying, we stand a good chance. We finished ninth two years ago when the last qualifiers was played [for the 2012 World Twenty20 in Colombo which was won by the West Indies] and hopefully we can perform better this time around.

"We certainly have a better and much-improved side than the last time and with the return of a couple of players, we will be strengthened further."

Exciting New Zealand-based left-handed batsman Mark Chapman and newly qualified all-rounder Haseeb Amjad will boost the side and with the possible inclusion of veteran Munir Dar, Hong Kong can look forward to a World Cup berth.

A total of 16 teams will take part in the world qualifiers with Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, the Netherlands, Canada and Namibia among the favourites.