Hong Kong T20 Blitz expected to attract overseas cricket talent
Robin Peterson, England’s Owais Shah and Australia’s Nic Maddinson have expressed interest, says Hong Kong Cricket Association
Overseas players such as South Africa’s Robin Peterson, England’s Owais Shah and Australia’s Nic Maddinson have expressed interest in playing in Hong Kong’s inaugural T20 franchise-based tournament next month.
Max Abbott, the Hong Kong Cricket Association’s marketing & commercial director, said interest in the four-team event is high since franchises were put up for silent bidding about two weeks ago.
He said agents and players involved in Australia’s Big Bash tournament and elsewhere have approached the HKCA while companies are also keen to snap up one of the franchises before the bidding process closes on Saturday at midnight.
“We have interest from overseas players, such as Big Bash players, and overseas agents,” said Abbott. “Because the tournament is over one weekend, it’s not like signing up for six weeks so the costs of bringing these players will be less.
“It’s going to be up to the owners how they want to put their teams together. We would certainly encourage them to explore those option and we could easily have a situation where Big Bash players and players from other big T20 leagues are coming to play in Hong Kong.”
Watch Robin Peterson’s three wickets in the Caribbean league
The Hong Kong T20 Blitz will be held on May 28 and 29 at Mission Road. The four teams will share 12 Hong Kong national players as well as other cricketers who will be picked from a draft on April 28.
The minimum bidding price for a franchise is HK$50,000 and Abbott said a player such as Kevin Pietersen, who was sacked by England last year and now plays mainly T20 events, would be ideal for Hong Kong.
“Pietersen is the type of player we hope to attract, but it depends on his commitments with the IPL [Indian Premier League],” said Abbott. “We are excited and curious to see who ends up taking the teams and what names they come up with.”
He said Peterson, Shah and Maddinson took to Twitter to show their interest in the tournament and organisers have also been in touch with agents representing players taking part in other major T20 leagues.
Abbott said a successful staging of Hong Kong’s inaugural professional T20 league may help lure overseas franchises to compete in future tournaments.
“Certainly, if not this year, we hope by running a successful event this year, we can generate more interest for future seasons,” said Abbott. “We also think there could be interest in the future from T20 leagues around the world such as the Big Bash and Caribbean Premier League to expand their brand in Asia and into Hong Kong.”
The 36-year-old Peterson, a batsman and spin bowler, played 15 tests and 79 one-day internationals for South Africa. His last T20 match was in December for the Cape Cobras in South Africa’s Ram Slam Challenge.
Former England player Shah is an experienced T20 player, having played for Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals in India, while Maddinson, 24, plays for Sydney Sixers in Australia’s Big Bash.
The tournament will give Hong Kong players the chance to play alongside top-class talent.