'With Australia making a welcome return, we have a mouth-watering prospect' Darren Gough will lead England in the defence of their title when the Cathay Pacific/Standard Chartered Hong Kong International Sixes gets under way at the Kowloon Cricket Club on October 22-23. The all-action event will have added punch this time with Australia making a welcome return, and being placed in the same pool as their Ashes conquerors. Gough and former test teammate Dominic Cork have been confirmed in the England side, who are favourites to add another victory in the world's richest two-day tournament. But the chances of Ashes hero Andrew Flintoff - currently the hottest player in the world scene - returning to Hong Kong are slim, according to organisers. 'We would love to see him come back, after all he cut his teeth in this tournament back in 2001. But he is a contracted player to the board and it is difficult, if not impossible, for him to be released,' said Clive Howard, chairman of the Hong Kong Cricket Association. With the Cup champions pocketing US$100,000 - and to be divided between seven or eight members - there is enough incentive for all eight teams to do well (total prize money is US$280,000). And with such a powerful motivation, organisers are confident that they can draw a top-quality field even if it is lacking big-name players. 'Not only have we got one of the strongest line-ups, we are also confident that we are going to get a high-quality field. While our hands are tied as far as getting the stars here, that will not detract anything from our tournament,' said Howard. The International Cricket Council has sanctioned the Hong Kong Sixes and in theory, all the boards of test-playing nations should send sides with at least a couple of big-name players. But the crowded international calendar prevents them from doing so. This year, India and Sri Lanka will be playing a one-day series at the time of this tournament and other countries have other commitments. 'There is so much cricket going on in the world and it is difficult to get commitments from the various boards,' added Howard. Australia, who are returning after a two year absence, have promised to send a side filled with current state players. In the past, Australia had sent retired players who were more interested in doing duty off the field than on it. This led to them being dropped. 'We have been promised a strong side from Australia. With England defending their Sixes title and Australia making a welcome return, we have a mouth-watering prospect,' Walsh said. Long-time fan and sponsor James Barrington, of Cathay Pacific, was equally looking forward to the clash between England and Australia. 'With cricket being so high profile as a result of the Ashes, this year's event will be the best ever,' said Barrington. This will not be the only rivalry with India and Pakistan drawn in the other pool, which looks really competitive with the presence of South Africa and West Indies. Last year's losing Cup finalists Sri Lanka and hosts Hong Kong complete the line-up. Tickets priced at $300 (adults) and $150 (children) are currently on sale at the Hong Kong Cricket Club, the Kowloon Cricket Club, Dot Cod Seafood restaurant in Central and through Cityline at www.cityline.com .