Full ODI games against big guns crucial for Hong Kong's development, says cricket chief
The Hong Kong Cricket Association is confident future matches against teams of the calibre of England will enjoy full ICC one-day international status.
Hong Kong lost to an England XI side featuring their top one-day players by 169 runs on Sunday in Abu Dhabi. They also face a Pakistan XI in a Twenty20 fixture on November 23. The England match was not given full ODI status because it was arranged at a late stage.
"Perhaps, if both parties had longer to prepare, a full ODI may have been feasible and hopefully this is something both parties can consider for the future," said HKCA chief executive Tim Cutler.
"However the reality was in the time available - less than a month - the proper arrangements that would normally be covered could not be completed in time."
Hong Kong are officially a one-day side and the matches against England and Pakistan were organised only after originally scheduled games involving the United Arab Emirates were cancelled.
Charlie Burke, the HKCA's director of cricket, said regular games against the world's best teams are key to raising the standards of local players.
"It's crucial we continue to play against full members to ensure we are challenged and get a greater understanding of where we are as a squad," said Burke.
"The resources and investment we have made in the high performance and elite programmes is evident. However, we can only judge how we are progressing by playing quality opposition.
"We have clear objectives and these include ensuring we maintain our ODI status and continue to be in the top 15 in both ODI and T20 rankings.
“The England match and the Pakistan T20 in a few weeks have given us a chance to benchmark where we are compared to full members.
"This is critical time for us with the series against UAE, a home series next January against Scotland then the Asia Cup [Bangladesh in February] and the WT20 in India.”
Hong Kong, ranked 11th in T20, are using the matches to build up to the ICC T20 World Cup next year in India.
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In the England match, an 81-run partnership between Babar Hayat and debutant Chris Carter was not enough for Hong Kong against a strong side.
Chasing 343 for victory, Babar smashed 78 runs from 81 balls, including eight boundaries, to top score for Hong Kong. Carter, 18, made a composed 34 runs from 44 balls, after Hong Kong had been 59 for three.
Earlier, England scored 342 runs for the loss of eight wickets, with left-hander Moeen Ali top scoring with 71. Hong Kong captain Tanwir Afzal took two for 40 in his bowling stint.
Carter was thrilled with his debut on the international senior stage. “I wasn’t expecting to play, I was 12th man, so that was awesome. It was good to play against that calibre of player,” he said.
The Hong Kong born player said his call up to keep wicket after a minor injury to Jaime Atkinson required enormous focus.
“I don’t usually get nervous wicket-keeping, I get far more nervous batting, but that was the most nervous I’ve ever been. But you just have to be positive and put those thoughts out of your head,” he said.
He added that there was one moment of the match he will never forget, “When Chris Woakes bowled me a bouncer that I hit over mid-wicket that was pretty special.”
The match served as a warm-up for Hong Kong’s crucial ICC Intercontinental Cup and World Cricket League Championship encounters against the United Arab Emirates.
Coach Simon Cook was pleased with his team’s performance.
“It’s a credit to Hong Kong really, with three grounds and 300 cricketers, to be able to produce cricketers at that level is incredible,” he said.
“What we need to do is continue producing the cricketers underneath, and that is part of my job.
“It was a huge learning curve for our players. We spoke after the match and I challenged them to think about the things to take away from the match to help them improve as players.”
England medium paceman Chris Woakes said: "I think the Hong Kong side can take credit for how they played … the way they batted showed they can play against a strong England side.
"I think the future is bright for Hong Kong cricket. You have to take these experiences and learn from them."