Love match: Hong Kong makes big impression on Australian cricket ace Michael Clarke despite rained-out T20 Blitz
Former Australia captain Michael Clarke said he was impressed by the passion for cricket in Hong Kong and hoped to return after his brief outing at the DTC Mobile Hong Kong T20 Blitz over the weekend.
Clarke had hit three fours in an over on Saturday in his second match for Kowloon Cantons and was just getting into his stride before rain prevented any more play in the tournament.
But the 35-year-old said he had seen enough to know Hong Kong have a strong future in the game.
“Obviously I’m very disappointed to have not played more cricket but you can’t control the weather,” Clarke said. “I think opportunities like this can only be great for the game worldwide.
“The tournament was run very professionally and the cricket was of an extremely high standard. I really don’t want to leave. I have loved my time here. I hope to be back very soon.
“It surprised me how talented some of these young players are. The love of the game is very strong within Hong Kong cricket and that is a very important foundation.
“Add that to a lot of talent and you have the recipe for success. I look forward to seeing how successful some of these young players are in a few years.”
Clarke was the major name in the four-team tournament, which had been put together in two months and generated strong interest from abroad. Although the weather played havoc with the schedule, the Hong Kong Cricket Association proved it was capable of hosting a major international event.
The body is hoping it can work with the government to improve the Mission Road grounds, particularly its drainage efficiency so play can resume quickly after a downpour.
Clarke said he would like to be involved in developing the game in places such as Hong Kong where cricket has taken root and is looking to move to the next level.
“I want to continue to help grow the game any way I can,” said, who spent five days in Hong Kong training and playing with and against some of Hong Kong’s top talents. “I owe cricket everything and if I can pass my experiences and knowledge on then I feel that is the least I can do for a game that has given me so much.”
Blitz tournament chief Max Abbott praised Clarke for realising the potential his appearance in the tournament could have.
“Michael was the ultimate professional in his time here,” Abbott said. “The fact he was enthusiastic not just to come here to play but to help the sport says a lot and he should be commended for taking the initiative to come to an emerging cricket region such as Hong Kong.
“He’s certainly welcome back any time.”