Token rise for HK T20 Blitz prize money, but franchises look to future riches with TV deal
Cricket Hong Kong will offer a total purse of HK$200,000 for the six-day tournament in February, with the winners earning HK$150,000
Prize money for next year’s Hong Kong T20 Blitz will rise by HK$50,000 to HK$200,000 in total – and though paltry compared to other regional events, local franchises say it is a move in the right direction.
The winners of the February 6-11 Blitz at Mission Road will receive HK$150,000 while the runners-up earn HK$50,000.
In addition to prize money, Cricket Hong Kong says it is close to securing a deal to ensure live television broadcasts of the 11 matches – something Hung Hom JD Jaguars owner Susan Lulla said was more important at this stage of the tournament's development than prize money.
“The amount of prize money, while important, is not the most critical issue at this stage,” she said. “What is important is the Blitz remains sustainable and continues to grow in popularity and stature, garnering additional viewership not just locally, but worldwide, and manages to hold its own among the various popular T20 tournaments being played in other regions.
“Aggressive marketing, better ground facilities, as well as world-class live TV broadcast of all the games will go a long way in ensuring this happens.”
The Hong Kong event’s total prize pool is pocket money compared to the big tournaments around the world. Even the three lowest-paying events – the Bangladesh Premier League, Caribbean Premier League and Pakistan Super League – offer a US$1 million purse, 39 times more than Hong Kong.
The Indian Premier League is by far the richest with a reported US$6.9 million on offer and US$2.6 million going to the winner. Australia’s Big Bash League is worth US$2.8 million and the Natwest T20 Blast in England has a pool of US$2.46 million.
Max Abbott, Cricket Hong Kong’s head of major tournaments, said the prize money increase is part of efforts to grow the Blitz.
“The increase in prize money reflects the growth of the tournament each year,” said Abbott. “We just try to lift the bar in all areas and the prize money is one of those.
“We are very close to getting our television broadcast deals wrapped up. The Blitz will be broadcast live for the first time so we keep adding the layers each year.”
Sushil Kumar, owner of 2017 runners-up City Kaitak, said the franchise supports CHK’s efforts to strengthen the tournament.
“Though the amount may not sound big compared to the other leagues, it is a gradual and welcome improvement over the years and it would be highly motivating for the players,” said Kumar. “City Kaitak understands the challenges and remains committed towards the progress of HKT20 Blitz and development of cricket in Hong Kong.”
Urvashi Sethi-Sodhi, CEO of defending champions Kowloon Cantons, said: “We are glad the CHK is taking the event higher by increasing the prize money.
“Monetarily, it is not a huge sum, however, it shows an intent to enhance the tournament which is a step in the right direction.”
A host of top short-form cricketers are lined up to play in Hong Kong in February, including Australian Chris Lynn and West Indian Darren Sammy (Jaguars), Dwayne Smith (West Indies, Kowloon Cantons), Pakistan’s Sohail Tanvir (City Kaitak), Hasan Ali (Pakistan, Hong Kong Island United), West Indian Jofra Archer and South African Cameron Delport (Galaxy Gladiators Lantau).
Cricket Hong Kong also announced an early seasonal gift for local cricket fans with tickets priced at HK$20 for adults for all mid-week matches. Youngsters can gain free entry during this period.
Tickets for the weekend rounds (February 10-11), including the final and third/fourth place play-off on Sunday, will be priced at HK$350 for adults and HK$100 for youths 15 and under. Tickets are available through Ticketflap.