Maurice Ling played one match for the Hong Kong national team in 1994 at the Tuanku Jaafar Cup. He didn't make any noteworthy contribution, but his mere presence highlighted the fact that the game had reached the Chinese community. Today, 18 years later, Ling has been lured back to the game and his presence now could be more significant. Ling is a mentor to a group of young Chinese men who banded together a few months ago under the umbrella of the Craigengower Cricket Club (CCC) to play in the Hong Kong Cricket Association's Saturday Championship Division. They called themselves the Gay Lay Hung Sze - or Craig's Lions. Like their female counterparts, formed in 2010, they lost every match, but it didn't matter, as it was a new beginning at a club which more than a century ago had nurtured the idea of the local community playing the game. 'Results and winning are great in sport, but at some point we have got to detach ourselves from these goals and tell ourselves, 'We have a great opportunity in front of us, let's grasp it',' says Kevin Styles, one of the forces behind the game's renaissance at the second-oldest cricket club in Hong Kong. Craigengower was the name of the home William Drew Braidwood left in Scotland when he arrived in Hong Kong in the 1890s. In 1894, Braidwood, 37, the headmaster of the Victoria English School, converted a turfed piece of ground in Bonham Road into a cricket field to instil the game's discipline into his body of students. The story is told in A History of Craigengower Cricket Club 1894-2012. It explains that cricket was enthusiastically received both by the students and their parents. But there was one drawback - hitting the ball over the boundary was an easy matter, recovering the ball was less straightforward. The land beyond the boundary was the site of an old cemetery and the students had to find the ball among a scattering of skulls and bones from damaged urns. It wasn't an enjoyable task. Braidwood, a teacher of Latin, Greek and mathematics, looked around for another piece of land. His eye fell on Happy Valley, which had large open spaces. He selected an area in the northeast corner for his new cricket club. This site also had its problems - it was the starting point for Jockey Club races, and consequently Saturday afternoon cricket matches were interrupted at regular intervals. 'From the outset, the club was a melting pot where local cricketers rubbed shoulders with expatriates,' Styles says. He pulls out as evidence grainy photographs of the old days where Chinese, Eurasian, Asian and Western faces mingle. Gay Lay Hung Sze (GLHS) is a resurrection of that old idea, but in a more distilled form, as both the men's and women's teams at CCC are mainly Chinese. Ling, 36, was persuaded to find his old cricket boots by Adrian Lee, the skipper of GLHS who has been a stalwart in the domestic cricket scene. 'I was extremely intrigued by the idea of playing with an all-Chinese team,' Ling said. 'Being a Chinese who was born and brought up in Hong Kong and has loved the game of cricket since a teenager, nothing makes me happier than to see more people in the local Chinese community get involved in the game. 'For a majority of our players, it was only their first season of any sort of competitive cricket, and it definitely helps to have a couple of senior players in the team, who have spent a number of years in the game and speak the same tongue [Cantonese], for them to seek advice and guidance from. 'It was probably the first cricket match I'd ever participated in where the pre-game captain's speech was conducted in Cantonese. It may sound insignificant to some, but to me this is a step in the right direction. To have one team consisting entirely of Cantonese speakers means there are at least 11 local players playing the game regularly,' Ling said. In early 1976, the Craigengower cricketers arrived at their club to find that half the ground founder Braidwood had unearthed had been dug up. The last match at CCC was played with the fielders dodging heaps of earth. With space at a premium and with the club's needs expanding, the ground had to be sacrificed. But despite the loss of the ground, the spirit of the game lived on with the CCC team becoming nomads and playing on any available space. The emergence of GLHS is proof that the game is well and truly alive at CCC. And most encouragingly, that it is alive among the local community. Lee believes being able to indentify with your fellow teammates is a crucial aspect, and perhaps the only way to nurture the development of the game among the Chinese. 'Just consider a Chinese who took up the game. It is hard enough to communicate with your teammates, and since you are usually not the best player, as you are still learning the game, it is very difficult to establish yourself. This could see the Chinese lad being dropped and never being seen again,' Lee said. 'I believe forming a Chinese-only team is the way to go. It is not rocket science. Obviously, the Hong Kong Cricket Association has other priorities so it is up to the clubs to carry the torch,' Lee said. GLHS was started last August with a contact list of 18 names. Unlike Ling and Lee, most of the others were novices, so a realistic target was set for last season - that it was to be a 'foundation year'. By the end of the season, the roster had grown to 32 players and there was growing recognition from others in the cricket community, with Hong Kong Cricket Club stalwart Rodney Miles coming in as a major sponsor and Clive Walton, former captain of the police team, securing them the police training ground. In his message for the tour programme to the West Indies earlier this year, CCC president Paul Tam lamented the fact that over the past decade the club had lost many senior members who held cricket dear. Tam urged the current membership to remember the roots of the club. 'Promoting junior cricket was the reason that headmaster Braidwood formed Craigengower way back in 1894. As our founding president, in 1903 he convened the first meeting, which created the Hong Kong Cricket League. We played in the first league match 109 years ago, and introduced the six-a-side concept to Hong Kong 50 years ago,' Tam said. But it was only two seasons ago that women cricketers found their voice. The GLHS women's team are led by Iris Tse Ming-wai. She says the biggest problem was that girls were getting involved in the game at a late stage. 'I have been an LCSD [Leisure and Cultural Services Department] coach for the association [HKCA], and most girls only know about cricket when they are around 16 years old. This is quite late compared to foreign cricketers, who get to know the game at a much younger age. This makes a great difference in skill levels,' Tse said. The women's team had it tough from the outset. The search for skilled cricketers proved hard, and at times Tse had only seven players to lead onto the field. 'We had a core of about five players and we depended on them to try to convince their friends to come along. This is essential for teams like ours, where players get together because of their own close relationships,' Tse said. But by the end of last season, the GLHS women were able to field a full complement on the field and this was a victory in itself. Results were also forthcoming with two players - Kary Chan Ka-ying and Ma Sze-wun - selected to represent Hong Kong in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) under-19 women's tournament in Singapore. A further four girls joined this duo for a subsequent ACC tournament in Kuwait. 'Although the tournament results were not remarkable, this is still encouraging, especially to our other teammates. It proves that everyone, even a local Chinese, can play good cricket,' Tse said. The GLHS male counterparts agree it is time to step up to the crease. 'I have told my teammates that one season of foundation is enough. We will need to compete, because performing on the field is a source of satisfaction,' Lee says. 'But I don't see GLHS as a place to nurture future Hong Kong cricketers. That is a job for the HKCA. In the future, if our squad can grow to a point that we can have a first and a second team, then maybe we will see how we can position ourselves. But GLHS will always be a platform for all Chinese to come together and enjoy the game,' Lee said. When he turned 80, back in Scotland in 1937, ex-students from Hong Kong sent Braidwood a cake with 80 candles and with 20 holes for him to complete his century. Sadly he was able to fill only one hole, as he died at the age of 81. But he is still remembered and the spirit of cricket which he first fostered at CCC is well and truly alive. 'If he was around today, Braidwood would be stunned to think that the institution he started still existed,' Styles says. In March, the club had a special visitor: Jennifer Cowling, the great-great-granddaughter of Braidwood. On her first visit to Hong Kong, Cowling came to seek information about her family. Styles showed her around, and she was fascinated to view the old photos that dot the walls at the newly refurbished clubhouse. In a message to the club, Cowling said: 'I never understood until now just what a key role Craigengower - the club Mr Braidwood founded way back in 1894, at the age of 37 - has had on the social and sporting life of so many in Hong Kong for almost 120 years. 'I now have an understanding of what an integral part this club played in the lives of Cantonese, Shanghainese, Portuguese, Indians, Parsees and many Westerners, from before the turn of the 19th century. 'What I have learned also sheds new light on the enlightened thinking of my forebear. I could never have imagined that members of the early Craigengower, at a time when Braidwood was 'president', were responsible for forming the Kowloon Cricket Club, Club de Recreio and the Indian Recreation Club, among others. 'I have learned so much and have many more memories to treasure, thank you.'