Revamped Hong Kong Sixes proposal part of plan to make 2016 a big year for local cricket
Local association looking to stage a women’s regional tournament as the men prepare for major assignments in Bangladesh and India
The relaunch of the globally popular Hong Kong Sixes is part of an action plan to make 2016 a landmark year for local cricket on and off the field, starting with this week’s ACC Asia Cup qualifier and the ICC World T20 next month.
The Hong Kong Cricket Association is hoping to resurrect the international sixes event with a revamped format to include women cricketers and mainland teams, as well as separately stage Hong Kong’s first ICC-sanctioned women’s tournament featuring rising powers.
HKCA chief executive Tim Cutler said on-field efforts begin this month with the Asia Cup qualifier in Bangladesh, followed quickly by the Hong Kong men’s second appearance in the ICC World T20 tournament, in India next month.
“The Sixes is a famous tournament,” said Cutler. “When I’m around the world and mention Hong Kong, they talk about the Sixes rather than us being ranked 10th in the world. Not that the Sixes define us, but it’s almost like a USP.
“It is something nobody else has and to get it up and running is critical for Hong Kong and for what it can do for emerging nations.
“We’d like for us to be able to stand up on our own two feet and make it commercially viable to help grow cricket in emerging nations like China, the US and Brazil.”
The Hong Kong Sixes was launched in 1992 but has not been played since 2012 because of a lack of sponsorship.
The tournament has featured some of the world’s best players including India’s Sachin Tendulkar, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, South African Jonty Rhodes and other top stars who were either test players or went on to become household names in the sport.
The HKCA is hoping the success of the Hong Kong men’s squad in one-day cricket and its vision to grow the sport in the city and China will attract sponsorship – along with assistance from the city’s Mega Events Fund – and help to stage the event towards the end of the year.
Watch Shahid Afridi hit sixes at the 2011 tournament
World-class cricket has already come to Hong Kong this year in the form of the rain-hit Braidwood Cup series between Hong Kong and Scotland at Mission Road last month.
Wet weather washed out the four-day Intercontinental Cup and one of the two World Cricket League 50-over one-day internationals. Hong Kong, however, won the other ODI while the T20 series was shared 1-1.
The matches that were played proved a success with healthy numbers turning up at the venue or watching online via streaming platforms on the HKCA’s website and YouTube.
Cutler said world governing body ICC was looking at Hong Kong as the venue for a women’s tournament featuring teams such as Hong Kong, China, Thailand and Nepal.
Watch Hong Kong play Pakistan in 2012
“This could be the first-ever women’s international tournament in Hong Kong for emerging teams,” he said. “It’s very topical with China and a team like Nepal, where cricket is very popular. It will give us really big exposure.”
Hong Kong play Afghanistan, UAE and Oman in the ACC Asia Cup qualifier, with the winners going on to face test teams Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the main event.
In the T20 World Cup, they face Zimbabwe, Scotland and Afghanistan in group B, with the winners advancing to group A in the second round featuring defending champions Sri Lanka, West Indies, South Africa and England.
“It’s an opportunity for them to play on the world stage,” said Cutler. “There’ll be 100 million people watching their opener against Zimbabwe [on March 8] and will showcase just how far we have come.”