Cricket Hong Kong

Hong Kong players aiming to go up against Sri Lanka great Muttiah Muralitharan at Singapore T20 event

Record-holding bowler will play at short-form event as a guest of the hosts as three Hong Kong players join the party

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 August, 2017, 3:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 August, 2017, 9:32pm

Hong Kong’s top cricketers will be hoping for a shot at facing one of the greatest bowlers of all time – Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan – when they turn out for Kowloon Cricket Club at this weekend’s Singapore T20 tournament.

The KCC side are led by the club’s director of cricket Charlie Burke and are bolstered for the eight-team event by three guest players in Hong Kong players Anshuman Rath, Nizakat Khan and Karandeep Singh.

KCC are grouped with Singhalese Sports Club (Sri Lanka). Melbourne Cricket Club (Australia) and a Singapore development squad and need to finish in the top two to reach the semi-finals to have a chance of facing Muralitharan, who is playing as a guest for the Singapore Cricket Club in the other pool.

“Murali is a decent bowler and it’s going to be a bit of fun,” said Burke. “He’s not in our group so we have to play well and make sure we get to the play-offs for a chance to play against him.

“We have a pretty strong squad, lots of guys either under-19 or in the Hong Kong squad. It’s an opportunity to cement a place in the national team.

“The cricket standard is very high, probably the highest standard amateur club tournament in the world.”

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Offspinner Muralitharan retired from test cricket in 2010 after taking a world record 800 wickets and stopped playing one-day internationals for his country in 2011, claiming 534 victims – also a world best. Muralitharan, 45, played a key role in helping Sri Lanka win the 1996 World Cup.

Burke expects rival teams to field their top players.

“You’ve got guys pushing for professional contracts and Singhalese Sports Club from Sri Lanka are actually a first-class team so it’s a very good level.”

“We sat down a month ago and said to ourselves we’d be disappointed if we aren’t in the top two and play in the semi-finals.”

The tournament will serve as ideal opportunity for many of Hong Kong’s national squad players to get quality match practice before the new season starts. And the three Hong Kong players in the side have provided the squad with a boost.

“They’ve been a huge plus already and worked their backsides off at training,” Burke said.

“Just being around them at training and their work ethic around our younger guys has been a real plus for us.”

Hong Kong coach Simon Cook said he’ll be keeping an eye on the tournament but said results won’t have too much bearing on future selections.

“It’s very good cricket, I played in the tournament a couple of years ago and they will come up against very good sides who are very competitive. It’s more about additional preparation in for those guys during a period that we don’t have much on,” Cook said.