With the end of the year approaching the cricket season in Hong Kong is at its mid-point. With the many different competitions in progress, this must be confusing to non-ardent supporters of the game. Here we demystify the local cricket scene for our readers.
The Hong Kong Cricket season runs from September through to April each year. Local (non-international) Men’s competitions comprise: Premier Leagues (Premier 2-day, Premier 1-day and T20), Saturday League Divisions, Sunday Championship League, a Challenge League, the Saturday and the Sunday Cups.
Aside from the Premier League, the other leagues and cups attract additional smaller clubs, with the larger clubs, meanwhile, dividing their players into a number of teams to allow a wider range of players to participate.
In addition to these, there are also competitions for women and juniors with all matches run and organised by the Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA).
Of the many competitions currently underway, the Premier League T20 (Twenty20 Final this weekend is the next most-notable event on the cricket calendar.
On the international front, Hong Kong have improving men’s and women’s representative teams. Meanwhile, Hong Kong hosts an annual 2-day sixes format tournament sanctioned by the ICC (International Cricket Council) – in the eighteenth instalment of the tournament, South Africa beat Pakistan in the 2012 KARP Group Hong Kong Cricket Sixes in October, Hong Kong came very credible third beating Australia and England along the way.
The top four cricket clubs, KCC (Kowloon Cricket Club), HKCC (Hong Kong Cricket Club), Pakistan Association and LSW (Little Sai Wan) Prism, are joined by Headwin Independents, who are a new addition to the top league taking part in the Premier competitions this year.
There are three Premier competitions: the Premier 1-day League (featuring five teams) running from September to April; Premier 2-day League (four teams) starts in December and finishes in April; and the Premier T20 (five teams), which is played between Nov 24 and Jan 5, with the top two teams playing a Final on Jan 6, 2013.
In the Premier 1-day League three teams, KCC, LSW Prism and Pakistan Association AMSUA, are all on 11-points; however, KCC have only played one match compared to two played by the other two teams, which puts KCC in a good position at this stage of the competition.
In the Premier 2-day League only two of the six matches have been played to date. The next matches are on Jan 12-13 and the final round is on April 27-28. With all teams having played one match KCC lead with 22.28-points; Pakistan Association AMSUA are second on 16.86-points; LSW Prism are third on 10.48 points; and HKCC are on 5.45-points.
Meanwhile, in the 20 over formatted competition, KCC and Pakistan Association head the standings and, although there are two more matches to be played on Jan 5 to complete the round-robin, these two teams will not be caught and will compete in the T20 Final on Jan 6 at the KCC Ground.
Sunday Championship League
Eleven teams compete in this September to the end of March, 10-match, competition. The ladder positions for this league are currently difficult to understand at this point in the season – some teams have played more games than others and with a possible maximum of 5-points awarded to the winning team, KCC Templars’ hold on the competition’s lead is far from convincing.
Although KCC Templars have shown some strong performances to date and are topping the League with 29-points from six matches, the Pakistan Association have 15-points off only three matches.
Meanwhile there are other teams in the hunt for league honours: LSW JKN with 23-points from six matches; Shaffi’s Vagabonds and HKCC Scorpions have 16 and 15-points respectively after both completing six of their ten matches.
Sunday Championship Cup
The Sunday Cup knock-out competition features teams from the Sunday Championship League is completed in April.
The top six teams in the Sunday Championship League gain automatic entry to the Quarter Finals of the Cup. Teams finishing in seventh to tenth places have elimination matches to decide the two additional teams to take part in the Quarter Finals. Qualifying matches are scheduled for Apr 1; Quarter Finals are on Apr 7; Semi-finals on Apr 14 and the Final is on Apr 21.
Saturday League Divisions
For this competition there are 11 teams in each of two Divisions with fixtures ending in early March.
Current leaders of Division-1 are LSW Sarjan with 22-points after six matches, followed by KCC Saracens with 20-points from six matches and Pakistan Association AMSUA are in third on 15-points from five matches.
USRC/Millennium (a combined team from United Services Recreation Club and Millennium Cricket Club) lead Division-2 with 24-points off six matches; SCC Lancers (who have also been known as the SubCont Cricket Club and SCC Vampires) are second with 21-points from five matches; and Lamma Cricket Club are third with 19-points from five games.
The knock-out Saturday Cup follows soon after the completion of the Saturday League with qualifying matches on Mar 16; Quarter Finals Mar 23 and Apr 6; Semi-finals on Apr 13 and Finals on Apr 20.
There are separate Cup knock-out competitions for each of the two divisions. The top six teams from the league have automatic entry and there are elimination matches to select two teams from those finishing in seventh to tenth place. The resulting eight teams play quarter final knock out matches with winners progressing to subsequent rounds. Both Cup competitions play their matches on the same dates.
There are 15 teams in the Challenge League which runs from September to March, seven in Division-1 and eight in Division-2. The teams taking part are representative teams such as company and area teams, university student teams and smaller clubs.
The Women’s League is played from September until April with six teams competing. There are home-and-away fixtures with each team playing 10 matches for the season. After five matches: HKCC Willow Wielders lead on 17-points; HKCC Cavaliers on 15-points; Pakistan Association AMSUA is third on 14-points. KCC Maidens and CCC Ladies both on 10-points and LSW Wasps last on 4.
The women’s T20 series was won by HKCC Willow Wielders with 20-points; Pakistan Association AMSUA was second with 16-points; and KCC Maidens third on 12-points.
A full program of junior leagues is run for under 11, 13, 15 and 17 age-groups. Secondary schools leagues are also run for boys and girls. Fixtures are currently in underway. Many of these culminate with Semi-finals, Finals and Grand Final matches. HKCA also run programs at primary schools where cricket is part of the curriculum.
Meanwhile, HKCA conducts several weekly coaching classes from September to March for young children through to teens – also there are beginners coaching clinics for those with little-to-no cricket experience held in Cantonese.
Third-party coaching instruction, usually affiliated with and organised by individual clubs, are also available during the cricket season.
International representative teams
With so many competitions and development programs available to cricketers in Hong Kong, the HKCA has its hands full in managing the pathway to the territory’s Men’s and Women’s teams.
Players are invited from the Saturday and Sunday Leagues to join the Men’s squad from which the national team is selected.
The senior Men’s team representing Hong Kong are currently fifth out of 18 countries in the ACC (Asian Cricket Council) non-Test playing countries rankings as at December 2012, while Hong Kong is ranked fourth overall when including Under-19 and Under-16 teams. This overall ranking is instructional as it determines the share of the approximately USD $1.5 million (HK$11.6 million) funding with the highest ranked ACC nation receiving the most funds down to the lowest ranked receiving the least.
Hong Kong’s next tournament is in the ACC Twenty20 Cup 2013 in Nepal from Mar 26 to Apr 3 this year. With the top two of UAE, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Oman, Kuwait, Maldives, Singapore or Bahrain progressing to the World Twenty20 Qualifier in UAE in November 2013, Hong Kong will need to be at their best. If they progress, Hong Kong will be then striving to reach the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in 2014, where if successful they can reach the big prize of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 qualification.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Women’s team will play in the ACC Women’s Championship 2013 in Thailand from Jan 21-31 in a 25-over per side tournament. Featuring teams from Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, Nepal, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand and UAE, the tournament winner will progresses to the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier in Ireland in August 2013.
Interested in finding out more about cricket in Hong Kong, or where you can join clubs or activities for this fun, healthy and non-body contact sport? Visit HKCA’s website www.cricket.com.hk/
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