HK players have perfect incentive

HONGKONG'S leading cricketers head for Thailand today with much more at stake than winning the four-team Southeast Asia tournament for the Tuanku Ja'Afar Cup.

For the countdown is underway to the International Cricket Council Trophy in Kenya next February and March, when Hongkong will be one of 20 non-Test playing nations bidding for one of three places in the 1995 World Cup limited overs competition in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

Hongkong will have a 13-man squad in Bangkok for three matches in three days and all the players are eligible to represent the territory in Kenya under the ICC's four-year residency rule.

And Hongkong captain Pat Fordham believes that as many as 10 places are still up for grabs in the 16-strong squad for Kenya.

Said Fordham: ''At the moment I would say there are only six players, possibly seven, guaranteed a place in the squad for Kenya.

''That leaves 10 places open and this is where people can start to stake their claim. There are so many good players about the competition will be very strong.'' Twelve of Hongkong's 13 players leave today and will be joined on Friday by Ross Greer, who must delay his departure by a couple of days to play for Eastern in a Hongkong First Division football match against Kui Tan at Mongkok Stadium tomorrow.

Greer will miss Hongkong's opening game, against Malaysia at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club on Friday, but will be available for Saturday's match against Singapore at the same venue and for Sunday's match against Thailand at the Polo Club.

''The squad has been selected on eligibility for Kenya as the rule stands now - that is, if they don't decide to change it six months before the tournament,'' added Fordham, referring to Kenya's proposal to extend the residency rule to seven years.

''These people will form the nucleus of the squad and there are one or two selections, regarded as surprises by a few people, who now have the chance to show their worth.

''Our strengths are that we are quite a good batting side with good fielding, accurate medium-pace bowlers and one good spinner.

''The main weakness is there is no really quick bowler now we have lost Warren Symcox and no second spinner. Also, in the past we have had four genuine all-rounders but now there's only two in Glyn Davies and Ross Greer.'' After a net at the British Club tomorrow afternoon, Fordham will announce his team to take on Malaysia on Friday morning.

Squad: Pat Fordham (captain), Steve Atkinson (vice-captain), Stewart Brew, Dai Thomas, John Garden, Nigel Stearns, Ross Greer, Glyn Davies, Tim Davies, David Cross, Matthew Johnson, Paul Cresswell, Yarman Vachha.