‘Exciting times’ as Hong Kong cricket looks to the future
Former national coach Charlie Burke returns as sporting director with the HKCA aiming to build on success that has seen team win ODI status
Former national coach Charlie Burke will return to Hong Kong to take over a new expanded role of director of cricket with the Hong Kong Cricket Association with the sport on the brink of “exciting times” with its recent elevation to one-day international status.
“The world cannot ignore Hong Kong any more and I want to be part of the game as we look forward to exciting times,” said Burke, speaking from Perth, Australia, on Sunday. “I have had a long chat with Mike Walsh [HKCA chairman] and I’m very keen to return and happy to have got the opportunity.”
Cricket is the top-rated team sport in Hong Kong in world rankings after the ICC World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand.
“We are 15th in the 50 overs world ranking and 16 in Twenty20. This is a huge achievement considering that no other team sport in this town is even close to that,” said Rodney Miles, HKCA president.
With the game on the rise, the HKCA picked Burke from 37 applicants globally.
Jamie Atkinson and his team first qualified for the final rounds of the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and then last Thursday came within three balls of becoming the first Hong Kong team to reach a World Cup when they almost pipped Scotland for the next 50-overs tournament.
Burke, who returns on Monday, had been at the root of all this – his last assignment with Hong Kong being the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers in Abu Dhabi in November – before leaving to join the ICC as a regional manager in charge of Africa.
“The ICC was supportive when I said I wanted to return to Hong Kong. They now see Hong Kong as one of the top associate countries and are keen to develop the game, especially with an eye on China,” Burke said. “I will return to take over an expanded role with a bit more involvement in management.”
Walsh said: “We have decided to expand the national coach position into a director of cricket role with full responsibility for all our coaching programmes and development of the game from the schools to national team level and all the associated organisation, planning, establishment of pathways that this entails.
“A major reason for Charlie deciding to seek pastures new was his desire to become more involved in the management and growth and expansion of the game in both players and facilities as well as skill levels. We were of a similar mind and out of the blue, as it were, we received a very detailed proposal from Charlie which ticked all of our boxes.”
Despite finishing with a higher net run rate than Scotland, Hong Kong failed narrowly to win one of the two berths for the World Cup. Hong Kong thumped Papua New Guinea by three wickets, winning the game with almost 14 overs to spare and were praying that Kenya would do them a favour by defeating Scotland. But Scotland chased down 261 with three balls to spare.