Hong Kong players in 4,800km dash for new passports

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am

Nearly half the Hong Kong cricket squad have made a mad dash to Pakistan for new electronic passports so they can travel to Dubai for the ICC World Cricket League Division Two tournament.

The six players are 4,800 kilometres away in Karachi waiting for visas.

Hussain Butt, Nizakat Khan, Waqas Barkat, Munir Dar, Adil Mehmood and Asif Khan were forced to go to Karachi to get new passports after it was discovered Dubai immigration authorities no longer accepted their older travel documents.

'Thankfully we found out about this in time and not when we arrived in Dubai,' Hong Kong head coach Charlie Burke said yesterday.

'The people arranging our visas informed us the passports of these six players were not valid in Dubai and we had to quickly make arrangements to send them home to Pakistan so they could get the newer versions. They have all got the new passports and are waiting for visas. Hopefully, they will be able to join the rest of the squad.'

Seven other players will leave from Hong Kong tonight, and Mark Chapman, who is studying in New Zealand, will fly to Pakistan on Saturday.

Burke said the six stranded in Pakistan were busy preparing for the eight-day tournament which starts on April 8, but the first of two crucial practice matches is due to be held this Saturday. 'Luckily, we made arrangements for the six in Pakistan to go and train at the cricket academy in Karachi,' he said. 'If they get their visas on time, they will arrive an hour after we land in Dubai.'

The other five teams in the competition are the hosts, the United Arab Emirates, plus Bermuda, Namibia, Uganda and Papua New Guinea, who finished runners-up to Hong Kong in the Division Three tournament in January.

The finalists will be promoted to Division One and take part in the ICC Intercontinental Cup alongside Ireland, Canada and the Netherlands, who all played in this month's World Cup.