CONTRARY to popular belief, the first words uttered on the trading floor of the stock exchange were not 'buy' or 'sell' - but 'nice shot'. It was late 1985 and the trading floor in Exchange Square was deserted. There were no terminals and no brokers. Construction work was still underway. But in the middle of the floor were two sets of stumps. Walking purposefully towards the crease were two members of the Securities Commission - renamed the Securities and Futures Commission - kitted out in whites and leg pads with bats clutched under their arms. Positioned on the boundaries and standing in the slips were board members of Hongkong Land, which owns Exchange Square, who had thrown down the gauntlet to the Securities Commission by challenging them to a cricket match on the soon-to-be-opened trading floor. The skipper of the Securities Commission team recalled: 'The first guy we sent on was a local Chinese who hadn't even seen a cricket bat before. He scored more than several runs before anyone realised he had the bat the wrong way around, thus confounding the slips.' The cup went to the Securities Commission and is still there today. Thus ran the first truly official event on Hong Kong's newly unified stock exchange which was officially launched in October 1986, a few months after the cricket match. As the umpires drew stumps on Hong Kong's first financial Test match and the players retired to the bar, one era ended while another was about to begin. The ascent of the new-look Hong Kong bourse was about to begin. The unified exchange was formed when the four separate exchanges that made up Hong Kong securities trading prior to 1986 were merged. The four floors - the Far East Exchange, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the Kam Ngan Stock Exchange and the Kowloon Stock Exchange - were, in the words of one Hong Kong long-termer, 'about as close to anarchy as anything I have ever seen'. James Filmer-Wilson, who has been a Hong Kong broker for 20 years and runs Chelsea Securities, said: 'I think the one thing that really summed up Hong Kong in those days for me was when this old chap walked up to the board where the prices were listed, had a heart attack and collapsed on the steps. 'The brokers looked at him, loosened his tie and carried on trading until the ambulance arrived.' Stockbroker Jill Zimmern was renowned for turning brokers' heads as she strode on to the trading floor with her sisters, all of whom were attractive. 'I remember my sister, Soupie, getting involved in a scrum with a gang of brokers who elbowed her, pushed her over and broke her jaw. But she went on trading until the bell sounded. 'There was no difference between man or woman when it came to warfare. She still has problems with her jaw.' She also remembered the time her other sister, Carol, had most of her dress ripped off in a similar scrap with a bunch of eager brokers rushing for a trade. Apparently, they stopped for a moment to look and laugh. Defrocked women obviously ranked higher than heart attacks back then. Another Hong Kong hand, who has been in the territory for more than 20 years, remembered the bull run of 1973. 'The fire brigade closed the visiting galleries of the four exchanges saying they were too crowded and posed a fire risk. Robert Fell, the man charged with resolving the chaos that passed as order in the four exchanges, recalled the transition to a unified bourse in his book Crisis and Change. He wrote: 'It appears now as a smoothly conducted operation. In fact, the background from 1982 to 1984 was completely unsettled, encompassing a property and stock market collapse; the murder of a banker; the suicide of a leading lawyer; the flight from the territory of two of his partners and a variety of developers; the defrocking and later imprisonment of the first chairman of the Hong Kong Commodity Exchange; the collapse of banks and indeed the currency; the negotiations with China; a major typhoon; and the visit of Margaret Thatcher.' The exchange has come a long way.