Hong Kong Sixes cancelled as Cricket Hong Kong cite lack of sponsorship and rise of T20 and 50-over formats
- After 19 editions, CHK chairman Tony Melloy says it is unlikely to be revived ‘but never say never’
- The future of the city’s T20 Blitz is also up in the air with organisers set to hold discussions with franchise owners
The Hong Kong Sixes have been cancelled, most likely forever, as organisers Cricket Hong Kong look to move with the times and stage tournaments that have greater recognition on the world stage.
Tony Melloy, the CHK chairman, said the 2019 tournament has been shelved, probably for good.
The 2017 event, won by South Africa, was the 19th and likely last-ever Hong Kong Sixes. Melloy said government funding, lack of sponsorship and the preference of countries to play other formats meant the Sixes is unlikely to be revived.
When asked if this year’s cancellation meant the end of the Hong Kong Sixes, Melloy said: “I personally think so but you can never say never.
“The format was very successful in the ’90s and noughties. But given the really complex and congested cricket calendar, we need to stick to recognised formats.”
The Hong Kong Sixes was launched in 1992 and continued until 1997 before dropping off the calendar. The tournament was revived in 2001 for an unbroken 12-year stretch that heralded the most successful era in Sixes history.
Lack of sponsorship forced CHK to shelve the event but they brought it back in 2017 in the hope that expanded television coverage would help sustain another long run.
However, the 2018 Sixes was abandoned with CHK vowing to stage a grand week-long festival of cricket in October 2019 encompassing the Sixes and the Hong Kong T20 Blitz, which was held from 2016 to 2018.
At its peak, the Sixes was hailed for its innovation and crowd-pleasing action, with batsmen having the opportunity to hit plenty of sixes and fours. The tournament was held mostly at the Kowloon Cricket Club, which provided the ideal setting despite concerns about its short boundaries.
The tournament was also held at Hong Kong Stadium for one edition.
During the early years, national teams would send their top test and one-day international players. Towards the end, most teams would field second-string teams.
Melloy said the Hong Kong government preferred supporting tournaments that generated world-ranking points such as 50-over or T20 events and was therefore reluctant to provide funds for the Sixes.
“It has also been very difficult in the current economic climate to find sponsors to support the event,” said Melloy. “[Also], international countries are keen on playing recognised formats and not the Sixes.
“So, we have cancelled the Sixes and we are letting our stakeholders know.”
Owners of Blitz franchises recently hit out at CHK for failing to keep them updated on the tournament.
Melloy said discussions on the viability of the Blitz were continuing.
“The Blitz was never off the table,” he said. “I’m actually meeting with owners to have a discussion. It could well be on the table depending on whether we can fit it into the calendar and if there is the financial capability to do so.”
The last Blitz was held in February 2018 and featured five franchises – Kowloon Cantons, Hung Hom JD Jaguars, City Kaitak, Galaxy Gladiators Lantau and Hong Kong Island United.
Among the players who have graced the tournament are former Australia captain Michael Clarke, Sri Lanka great Kumar Sangakkara and West Indies ex-captain Darren Sammy.