The Hong Kong national team has returned to training following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
The city state has maintained strong control over the coronavirus pandemic, with a total 1,100 cases since the beginning of the outbreak, with only a handful of cases still active and a total of 4 deaths.
Speaking to CricketEurope, Hong Kong head Coach Trent Johnston said: “There have been only four deaths, which of course is four too many, here in a population of 7.5 million. People learned the lessons of the SARS outbreak in 2003 and went quickly into lockdown. The schools closed too and have been for four or five months and the country has a culture of wearing masks so the virus was swiftly brought into control.”
During the lockdown, Hong Kong’s players were limited to training from their own homes, as their regular facilities – owned by the Leisure, Culture and Sport Department – have remained out of bounds.
Speaking about the experience, Johnston said “We have been four or five times a week on Zoom sessions doing Strength and Conditioning. It was a new experience for me especially during Ramadan which meant us doing sessions starting at 10pm until well after midnight. I was getting their times for the 2k and 5k running sessions after 2am due to them having to rest during the day and only able to eat when the sun went down.”
Hong Kong were last in action in March at the ACC Eastern regional qualifier in Thailand, where they finished 2nd, behind Singapore but ahead of Malaysia, Nepal and the hosts. With no cricket of any description since, players are being eased back into training.
“We have started slowly getting the guys used to hitting and bowling balls again and we will step it up gradually over the coming weeks. Social distancing is very much still in evidence here and we are limited to only eight in a group.”
“I’ve had to do a lot of thinking around the structures and programming so while it’s been difficult and challenging, I’ve enjoyed it coming up with innovative solutions to not having turf facilities.”
Still on the schedule for 2020 are the ACC Asia Cup Qualifiers, in Malaysia though Johnston doubts if these events will go ahead as planned.
“I’d be more optimistic about the prospects of cricket in the final quarter of the year but like the rest of the world, it’s a case of wait and see and see what develops. Hopefully we will be back on the park and playing as soon as possible.”
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