Hong Kong to host ICC women’s World Cup cricket qualifier
All-rounder Mariko Hill says a good performance will help in efforts to include the women’s team in the Hong Kong Sports Institute programme
Hong Kong’s women’s cricketers will have home advantage when they start their campaign to qualify for the ICC World Cup, with players knowing a good performance will strengthen their case for better funding and support.
World body ICC has confirmed that Hong Kong will host the ICC 2016 Women’s World Cup Qualfier – Asia at Mission Road from October 9-15, with all-rounder Mariko Hill confident the home side can win the event against China, Nepal and Thailand and boost their hopes of becoming part of the Hong Kong Sports Institute programme.
“We are obviously very excited and have never been more hungry,” said the 20-year-old Hill, who despite her age is one of Hong Kong’s most experienced players.
“We’ve all been working really hard and it has finally hit everyone that not only is this about World Cup qualification but also funding from the Hong Kong Sports Institute.
“If we win this tournament it will lead to a lot of bigger things and I really think that we can pretty much win it.”
The Hong Kong men’s team are already part of the institute’s programme, having reached the finals of the past two ICC World T20 tournaments. The women are keen to join them and a strong showing at October’s tournament will help their cause.
The winners of the round-robin event will progress to the ICC 2017 Women’s World Cup Global Qualifier – the final qualifying tournament before June’s finals in England.
The ICC’s decision to choose Hong Kong is significant because the world body is keen to expand the game in China. It is also another boost for Hong Kong’s standing as an important regional centre for cricket.
The Hong Kong men hosted Scotland in the Braidwood Cup in January and the city also staged the DTC Mobile T20 Blitz last month, although both events were badly hit by rain.
The HKCA is working with the government to make improvements at the Mission Road ground, particularly its ability to drain water rapidly.
“We are thankful to the ICC for electing us to host the first ever Women’s World Cup Qualifier – Asia,” said Hong Kong Cricket Association CEO Tim Cutler.
“We will be working closely with the government to ensure Tin Kwong Road Reacreation Ground is at the best standard it can be for this international event.
“Our ladies are the pride of our indigenous development programmes with over half of the squad being of Hong Kong Chinese extraction.
“Such a diverse range of cultures make up our community and with a particularly large, proud, Nepalese community we expect to welcome some great crowds into the grounds over the course of the tournament.”
Hill said the presence of leading Australia players Sarah Coyte and Kristen Beams for a brief spell in the Premier League this year served as a wake-up call for the local cricketers.
“It really opened the eyes of all our players when we saw those two players,” said Hill. “We now know the kind of standards that we should aspire to.”
Coyte and Beams, who play for the Southern Stars and are Australian internationals, also took part in a training camp with the Hong Kong women’s team.