Craigengower Cricket Club, the second oldest cricket club in Hong Kong, has pledged HK$150,000 (US$19,350) and the use of the Braidwood Centre for Cricket Development in Happy Valley in support of the ‘Cricket For All’ programme.

It will also see the first competitive cricket played on site since the cricket ground was built over in 1976.

The programme ran by Cricket Hong Kong (CHK), cricket’s governing body in the territory in partnership with Craigengower CC, aims to spread cricket throughout the region across all ages especially among the majority Hong Kong Chinese population.

This is the fifth time that Craigengower CC has pledged funds and partnered with CHK to push the sport’s development since the 2013 opening of the Cricket Development Centre, situated at the club’s facilities located next to the famous Happy Valley Racecourse on Hong Kong Island. Part of the project is the upgrading of the current infrastructure in place in the indoor facility and these improvement will allow for the indoor cricket competition matches to be played.

Founded by Scottish teacher William Drew Braidwood in 1894, the club was formed to welcome ‘all-comers’, which was the exception at the time. When Scotland toured Hong Kong in 2016 to play the first-ever ‘full status’ internationals on Hong Kong (or Chinese) soil, the “Braidwood Cup” was inaugurated, with points across the Intercontinental Cup’s First Class, World Cricket League Championship’s ODIs, and T20 Internationals contributing points to a cumulative final total similar to the Women’s Ashes. Hong Kong prevailed in the Trophy’s first series.

When speaking about what the development programme has already achieved in Hong Kong the president of Craigengower Cricket Club, Fred Keung, stated that the programme has already been able to produce players that have gone on to represent both the male and female national sides. 

When speaking about the partnership, HKC chairman Tony Mellow reflected that he is “delighted our (their) strong partnership will continue to flourish and Craigengower will further help our aim of making cricket the fastest growing sport in Hong Kong,”.

The Hong Kong men played their first ODI against Bangladesh in 2004 has since seen the development of homegrown talent including Jamie Atkinson, Mark Chapman, and Anshuman Rath. The T20 World Cup in 2014 saw them topple their first Full member when they defeated Bangladesh in front of a stunned home crowd and despite a poor showing at the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifier their lone win came in the form of a giant-killing victory over Afghanistan, who went on to win the tournament from a seemingly impossible position heading into the Super Sixes.

Both the men’s and women’s Hong Kong teams sit at 23 in their respective ICC T20I rankings, the men having been as high at 10th in the world during 2016. 

Other developments throughout Hong Kong include working with the over 65s to enable them to keep healthy active and enjoying the game and the new Dragons academy is hoped to drive the development of more fantastic young Chinese talent.  

The Hong Kong men during the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe (Photo: ICC)

But the ambition to grow cricket in Hong Kong does not rest on what has already been achieved. Instead, Keung has made his development intentions clear stating that he wants Craigengower CC to be at the centre of the development of the HK Dragons, the men’s Chinese development team.

In recent years there has been a clear aim and significant investment within the Hong Kong cricketing ecosystem to increase the participation of the HK Chinese and time will tell whether or not these targeted programmes will have the desired results. But, none the less, the forward-moving development can only be a positive for the cricket in the region despite recent challenges on and off the field.

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