Hong Kong ready to go with extra precautions

Isaac Lockett reports on the latest news regarding the domestic season in Hong Kong

Cricket Hong Kong has recently announced the restarting of competitive action following the enforced break, with the return of the Hong Kong Premier League and the establishment of the Women’s Premier League. 

Men’s Premier League 

The Association have announced that strict measures are being implemented to ensure that the men’s Premier League remains corruption-free and competitive. The tournament is set to start in October and based on last season it is expected that the live streaming service will attract ‘thousands of overseas viewers’. According to Cricket Hong Kong’s general manager Ravi Nagdev, as quoted by the South China Morning Post, around 13,000 fans streamed the final game of the last season’s competition.  

Cricket Hong Kong are aware of the risks that a high audience brings to the sport and therefore are ensuring that as many precautions as possible are being taken. As stated by Nagdev, ‘“All captains, players, umpires and officials will be briefed … We will be following the ICC anti-corruption code. Players and officials will be blocked off during games. Areas will be restricted to players and officials only, including at the club venues … There will restrictions on mobile phones. We will be advising them on all protocols. This is along with the Covid-19 guidelines and anti-doping rules as well.’

Cricket has recently been plagued with match-fixing incidents including in Hong Kong. Brothers Irfan and Nadeem Ahmed, who represented Hong Kong, were given life long bans by the ICC following being found guilty of trying to corrupt several matches, including those played during the 2016 World T20. Recently, UAE cricketers Ashfaq Ahmed and Amir Hayat were formally charged with five counts of breaching cricket’s anti-corruption code, and are currently suspended.

The men’s Premier League is scheduled to start on the 18th October, with five teams competing in a single round-robin format with the two top teams going straight into the final. The five teams competing are: Little Sai Wan, HKCC, Kowloon Cricket Club, United Services Recreation Club and Pakistan Association Cricket Club, with the same teams planned to compete in a 50-over in January. 

An exciting addition to this year’s tournament is a third camera being added to the broadcasting of the matches to improve the visual quality. The new camera will be a roving camera and adds to the experience previously offered by the two cameras which were positioned at each end of the wicket. When speaking about what the hope is for the addition of the new camera is Nagdev stated that CHK ‘previously had two cameras and it didn’t look bad. It made the ground look very good. Switching to two cameras at both ends is the next step up. We are hoping with this sort of coverage, we can attract more sponsors and create a higher profile for our tournament … We really want to identify the Premier League as the highest level of domestic cricket, in terms of competitiveness, organisation, playing standards and officiating’.

Prior to the start of the Premier League, the first domestic action sees Vagabonds play HKCC Optimists during a 50-over Sunday League game at Wong Nai Chung Gap Road’s HKCC.

Women’s Premier League

Cricket Hong Kong has announced the first-ever edition of the Women’s Premier League which is scheduled to start on the 18th October 2020. Two teams, comprised of the territory’s best players, will play three games against each other to decide the champions, with the games coming over the next three months. Two of the games will be 35-Over matches whilst the third will be 40 over-a-side. 

In CHK’s release, Chris Pickett, CHK’s Head of Women’s Cricket, said ‘The Women’s Premier League (WPL) offers Cricket Hong Kong an ideal vehicle to both challenge the elite domestic players in Hong Kong and to see them in the most competitive environment available in Hong Kong to assess them for potential Hong Kong team selection. With selection for the teams not being limited to those eligible to represent Hong Kong, we ensure we get an elite group of players and experiences… From a product perspective, the franchise style and specific identities of the squads and allegiance for players with their squad will help emphasise the importance of the WPL within the CHK Women’s selection pathway. It also provides a high-profile product with which CHK can promote and expand the Women’s game through Hong Kong with their intent to stream and promote the matches on social media …I am hugely looking forward to seeing this product in action and to see the players in action in this elite, more talent streamlined competition’.

With the tournament adding to an already existing domestic set up which has recently been expanded, the upcoming season looks an exciting one for Hong Kong’s female cricketers. The previous women’s domestic set up in Hong Kong has now been replaced by a new two-division structure in the Women’s T20 league.  

The games are scheduled to be played at  Hong Kong Cricket Club and Tin Kwong Road Recreational Ground with there being plans to stream all three games.

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