Intercontinental Cup offers HK 'pathway' to test level
HKCA secretary John Cribbin says Hong Kong team 'will have a lot to play for'
Hong Kong has welcomed a pathway to test cricket in 2018 after the International Cricket Council approved a Test Challenge between the lowest-ranked test team and the winner of the next ICC Intercontinental Cup.
"This is great news as it opens a pathway for associate countries like us to play at the highest level," said John Cribbin, secretary of the Hong Kong Cricket Association. "Our team will have a lot to play for over the next two years."
The ICC board has decided the top eight associate countries - the six with ODI (one-day international) status plus the top two from the ICC World Cricket League Division Two in 2015 - will figure in the next Intercontinental Cup to run from 2015 to 2017. The winner will earn the right to play two five-day tests at home and two away against the side ranked 10th in the ICC test rankings on December 31, 2017.
"The ICC Test Challenge now opens the door for associate members to play Test cricket and in doing so gives even greater context to the ICC Intercontinental Cup," ICC chief executive David Richardson said at the end of the two-day board meeting in Dubai.
Hong Kong is one of six associate members with ODI status. The others are Ireland, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Papua New Guinea and Scotland. The top two from the ICC WCL Division Two will be known early next year.
"The Intercontinental Cup includes all three formats, four-day cricket, 50 overs as well as Twenty20s but it will be the winner of the four-day format who will earn the right to play in the Test Challenge," said Charlie Burke, HKCA director of cricket.
The ICC's high performance manager, Richard Done, will arrive in Hong Kong this month to assess conditions.
With the Cup played on a home and away basis, Hong Kong will have to host the other seven associates over the next two years. The city has only one ground which marginally meets international standards - Mission Road - but it lacks facilities like dressing rooms and a pavilion.
"The need for an international-sized ground with all the facilities is urgent," Cribbin said.