If you’re interested in doing something a little different this summer, give cricket a go. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the rules, or if you haven’t ever bowled or batted a ball in your life – the Kowloon Cricket Club (KCC) wants you to take part in this year’s summer cricket camp.
KCC’s 2017 Summer Cricket Camp is a four week course for wannabe cricketers, fans, or simply people who want to try out a new sport. Participants will be given the opportunity to learn game tactics, and improve their technical skills (from bowling, to batting, to fielding) from some of Hong Kong’s top cricket stars and coaches. Most of all, though, they want participants to have fun playing one of the most popular sports in the world.
Young Post spoke to experienced cricket coach Scott McKechnie and Hong Kong’s top fielder Waqas Barkat, both of whom will lead this year’s sessions.
“The camp is a really good opportunity to introduce young people to cricket in Hong Kong,” says McKechnie, who has played county cricket in Britain. The Englishman is on a mission to identify stellar Hong Kong cricket talents. “We’re really looking to push and drive cricket in Hong Kong and Asia, in terms of player quality and development.”
Many of the city’s young athletes are coming off of a sports-heavy season, and summer is a chance to put their athleticism to the test. “It’s vital young cricketers take part in camps like this. They already have great exposure to lots of different sports September through May – be that rugby or football – and their skills definitely feed back into cricket,” says McKechnie, who coached the Galaxy Gladiators Lantau team at the Hong Kong T20 Cricket Blitz earlier this year.
KCC captain Barkat, 27, says he hopes to see new faces at the camp this summer. “I want to see a lot of young people turning up. We’ll be doing our best to make sure everyone has fun,” he says, adding that this is the first year he is involved in KCC’s summer camp.
The all-rounder became Hong Kong’s first cricket player to score 100 runs in a T20 match in 2013, and he has been a mainstay in the national team ever since. “Waqas is a match-winner; whatever he’s doing, he does it with freedom and positivity. We’re looking to develop match-winners like him,” adds McKechnie.
Barkat started off as an opening batsman but after fine tuning other aspects of his game, he has become a valuable all-rounder; a solid right-handed batsman, an impressive leg-break bowler, and one of the city’s top fielders. “It’s very important to practise, because you will keep missing out if you don’t,” he explains.
Both McKechnie and KCC director of cricket, Charlie Burke, have embraced the Hong Kong approach to cricket. “Encouraging people to naturally go about their game, is better than making people play robotically,” says Burke, who admits the Hong Kong cricket techniques caught him off guard when he first came to the city seven years ago. “The junior cricket sixes makes the game easier to understand and enjoy, so after a couple of sessions, young people will have a basic understanding of the game.”
“The style of junior cricket in Hong Kong is unique. As a coach, it’s very exciting to see them develop. Identifying talent here is very easy because there’s a lot of it,” adds McKechnie.
His enthusiasm for the future of Hong Kong cricket is evident in the way he talks about it. “It’s hugely important that we build an environment where these young people can have fun, and want to develop.” Hongkongers unsure about whether cricket is right for them need to think again, he adds. “There’s a huge number of Chinese squads playing in the game here – a good example is in our U-11s competition. It’s definitely evolving.”
Hong Kong cricketers are still buzzing from the T20 Blitz, a faster and shorter form of cricket. “It was fantastic to get some world-class players from overseas [in it],” McKechnie says. “[Local] cricketers were given the opportunity to meet their heroes, and to see that maybe they’re not as far from that [highest level] of cricket as they think they are.”
The camp starts on July 4. Cricketers can join all for four weeks or, alternatively, choose particular weeks in which to participate. The final week ends with KCC’s popular Junior Sixes Carnival, packed full of fun and games.
Young Post readers are eligible for 10 per cent off – simply contact head coach Scott McKechnie at [email protected] to sign up.