MCC targets China growth as they make Hong Kong Sixes debut, with four test teams signing up
Defending champions South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh join hosts and London side in next month’s tournament
England's historic Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) will join at least four test-playing nations in October’s Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, hoping to use the city’s popular event as a gateway to making inroads into China.
The MCC will line up alongside defending champions South Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and hosts Hong Kong in the eight-team tournament at Kowloon Cricket Club on October 28 and 29.
The confirmed teams means there is room for two more – likely to be new test nation Afghanistan and Pakistan – as the tournament returns to Hong Kong for the first time since 2012.
“MCC have been incredibly supportive over the years in developing cricket in China with [MCC world cricket committee chairman] Mike Gatting and [head of cricket] John Stephenson,” said Cricket Hong Kong president Rodney Miles. “The two have been behind the drive to promote cricket in China and will be touring the country this weekend.
“They are very enthusiastic about any form of help they can give to see cricket development in China and, indeed, the Hong Kong Sixes is one way.
“Previously at the Sixes we had the China men’s and women's teams playing exhibitions before the tournament and hopefully the same thing can happen this time.”
MCC, which was founded in 1787, is the world’s most famous cricket club and own the iconic Lord’s ground in London – the home of cricket.
Apart from being the guardians of the laws of the game, MCC undertake numerous tours around the world to spread the cricket gospel. The side to play in Hong Kong are likely to feature mostly young, up-and-coming players with possibly a couple of ex-test stars in the mix.
“We are excited to welcome both test nations and our first-ever club side to take part in the Sixes, particularly an iconic club like MCC, with its prestigious cricket history,” said Cricket Hong Kong director Jonathan Cummings.
“We see what rugby and the Sevens have done in helping the game grow in new markets around the world, and that’s something we believe that we can do with the Sixes format for years to come.”
Cricket Hong Kong is offering early bird tickets – closing on October 6 – at HK$1,000 for the entire weekend of 23 matches over two days. After the deadline, adult tickets will cost HK$1,200 for two days while single-day tickets are priced at HK$600 for Saturday and HK$700 for Sunday.
A limited number of children’s tickets for those under 12 years old are available at HK$600 for the weekend or at a daily price of HK$350.
“Fans at the ground are in for a weekend of non-stop action and this is just the start of something much bigger for the sport here,” said Cummings. “We hope to add a number of emerging nations to the tournament in future years once the event is ready to take that step.
Teams will be split into two pools of four with all of the preliminary matches to be played on the Saturday and the finals matches to be played on the Sunday.
In their bid to reinvent the tournament as “Sixes 2.0”, the organisers have engaged with television and digital partners to broadcast the matches on both platforms.
A number of other new innovations will be included to build upon the renowned fast-paced Sixes format in keeping with the tournament’s history of innovation.
Each match features five overs a side and lasts about 45 minutes.