Former junior national cricket representative for Hong Kong, Niaz Ali has returned after a year out of cricket and is now striving to find the form that will put him back into national squad selection contention.
With less than a week away from his 20th birthday, the bearded left-arm medium-fast pace seamer and lower to middle order batsmen boasts an enviable junior career that was unfortunately interrupted by injury.
Ali, who has played for the junior, youth and national side, spent a year in Pakistan to study and is hoping the time away from the game has freshened him up as he tries to re-establish himself as a cricketer at the top level in Hong Kong.
“I have been struggling with fitness as I have not been playing for more than a year,” Ali told The Epoch Times while playing for Little Sai Wan (LSW) Knights against their more experienced club team LSW JKN on Dec 16.
“I did not play in Pakistan,” said Ali who is now working in Delia Memorial School (Glee-Path) as a discipline teacher. “I am now settled in Hong Kong and want to make my come-back so am playing hard.”
Ali began playing cricket when he was 10-years-old. He was a member of the Hong Kong Under-13 team when he was 12, while still in primary school, and was elevated to the national team at 15.
“I have been part of the national teams since I was 15. When I was 15 I toured with the national team.
“My biggest achievements have been playing [for Hong Kong] in [the] Under-19 World Cup Qualifier in Canada and taking five wickets against Vanutau to take Hong Kong team to qualify for [the] Under-19 World Cup.
“Doing well in [the] Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand earned me a call for the [Hong Kong] national side to play in the Asian games in China. I performed decently well there as well,” said Ali.
Ali played in the T20 Asian Cup in China, Guangdong for the national team but it was in Dubai for a T20 tournament that he broke down. That combined with work commitments and life’s challenges that many young sportsmen face, Ali lost form.
“I got injured in the first few matches [in Dubai] and then played some, but mostly I have been injured.”
“As with other sportsman in Hong Kong I was finding it hard to earn through cricket, so I started to work. And because of work commitments I could not train frequently and that caused me to be dropped from the national squad.”
While eager to return to the national squad, Ali is pragmatic about his chances and knows that he has a lot of work ahead to catch up.
“Now I have to improve my fitness, performance and commitment to work my way back to playing for Hong Kong and I am looking forward to it.
“I always thank my club Little Sai Wan Cricket Club for supporting me in good and bad times, especially Kashif Dar our Chairman,” added Ali.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.