HK to put case in talks with ICC boss

HONGKONG Cricket Association officials are to make a personal plea to the new chief executive of the International Cricket Council, David Richards, when he visits the territory today on his way from Australia to London.

Association chairman Peter Slack, secretary John Cribbin and chairman of selectors Rod Eddington will meet Richards and outline Hongkong's objections to a proposal which will go before the annual meeting of world cricket's associate members at Lord's in July.

Kenya, who will stage the fifth ICC Trophy in Nairobi next February and March, want to increase the residency qualification rule from four years to seven. If the proposal is passed, Hongkong's plans for the event would be in tatters because several of their first-choice players would not be eligible to take part.

So the Hongkong officials will take the opportunity to push their case to Richards, who will leave his post with the Australian Cricket Board to take up his ICC role permanently in June.

Said Slack: ''We want to give him a brief introduction to Hongkong cricket and to explain the role we play in this part of the world.

''But obviously the thing we are worried about is if they change the qualification rule this summer.

''We have been preparing for this for years and it will be very hard for the people who have committed themselves to cricket with this in mind to be suddenly told they are not qualified.

''I do not know how much direct influence he will have over the associate members but we will suggest that if they want to change the rule it would be more reasonable to change it after the tournament in Kenya.'' ICC rules state there are two ways players qualify to represent a country - either by being born there or by having lived there for at least eight months in each of the previous four years leading up to the tournament.

With the leading three teams in the ICC Trophy joining the nine Test-playing nations in the 1995 World Cup in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Kenya proposed the rule change to make it more difficult for countries to stack their side with overseas professionals.

The proposal will be put to the vote at the ICC annual meeting at Lord's in London from July 5-8 and Kenya will need two-thirds of the 19 votes to push it through.

This means Hongkong have to find the support of six more delegates to defeat the proposal.