Hong Kong needs a bigger pool of talent, says Charlie Burke
Director wants more competition for places on the team for 2015 season
It will be a long and hot summer for Hong Kong's director of cricket, Charlie Burke, as he tries to expand the talent pool for a 2015 season which could include one-day internationals and first class cricket.
Burke and the Hong Kong Cricket Association selectors have named a 42-strong summer training squad which will not only provide the manpower for the forthcoming Asian Games but also for a planned ODI series against Papua New Guinea, as well as looking ahead to the 2015 international season.
"It is crucial we develop a bigger pool of players that can come into the first team and put pressure on the current group of players," Burke said.
"The 16-18 players that have been regular members of the squad over the past 12 months need to be challenged and are hungry to have a bit more competitive attitude at training."
The squad will include the nine contracted players - captain Jamie Atkinson, Waqas Barkat, Babar Hayat, Nizakat Khan, Irfan Ahmed, Nadeem Ahmed, Aizaz Khan, Tanwir Afzal and Haseeb Amjad - plus a mix of other players who have represented Hong Kong and those attempting to earn their first cap.
"It is exciting that we have some very young talent coming through and who have been competitive at [Hong Kong] Premier League level," Burke said.
"However, it is a much higher step up playing for Hong Kong and the level of commitment, fitness and attitude will give us a good opportunity to see who has what it takes."
Burke's most pressing focus will be on selecting the men's and women's teams for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in September.
His worries have abated thanks to the dispensation given to six players - Atkinson, Barkat, Aizaz Khan, Roy Lamsam, and women cricketers Mariko Aota Hill and Ishitaa Gidwani.
Despite not having local passports, they will be eligible as they played at the previous Games in Guangzhou four years ago.