Hong Kong’s cricketers have been on a week-long boot camp in Perth, "beach, boxing, nets, nets" in preparation for Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 2. “It’s been a very useful team-bonding experience, the players lived four to an apartment, cooked together, washed together and really came closer together as a group,” says national coach Charlie Burke. They worked hard on the field and in the gym and had constructive training sessions with Adam Gilchrist and Brad Hogg too.

Perth native and Western Australia grade cricketer Charlie Burke knew that conditions in his home town would be ideal preparation for the games in Dubai, “the wickets are similar, it’s just as warm” and the hours of focussed, intense practise “took the players out of their comfort zones.” Gym and training sessions with Adam Gilchrist, Brad Hogg, Western Australia’s Retravision Warrior Matthew Johnston and U-19 Australian Cameron Bancroft tuned up the Hong Kong players. “The inter-action was great and it was a real eye-opener for the boys to see how hard someone like Adam Gilchrist who’s retired from international cricket, although he still plays IPL, works. Boxing’s a big part of Gilly’s workouts and I’m a great believer in it too, it teaches balance, hand-eye co-ordination and discipline,” says Hong Kong’s coach. The camp allowed Charlie more time for one-on-ones with his players (the ones who couldn’t get away because of work commitments in Hong Kong, had similar input from the assistant coach) and with four left-arm spinners in the squad, the fact that “Brad Hogg worked with our wicket-keeper Waqas Barkat was a great help.”

Nadeem Ahmed with Adam Gilchrist

The Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) is a pathway for Associates and Affiliates to ICC High Performance training and funding and potential World Cup qualification. Charlie is under no illusions as to how tough WCL 2 will be. “We have targets and goals for the team and have been planning for this since the end of Division 3. The competition’s strong and we’ve all done all we can to prepare. There’s been a squad of 18 players who’ve been together continuously for the past eight or nine months who have come to understand their role in the side,” says the coach.

Nets and ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ in Perth
Pictures by Charlie Burke

After two appearances in WCL Division 3, Division 2 represents Hong Kong’s highest global position so far and an opportunity to go even higher. A top two finish gets them into Division 1 where they’ll be up against Afghanistan, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Kenya. It’s a huge opportunity for Hong Kong: a chance to reach a level they’ve never been at before, stay there, get to play the ICC Intercontinental Cup, potentially try to qualify for the World Cup.

ACC Development Officer Rumesh Ratnayake’s been involved with Hong Kong for some years and is currently with the team in their final tune-ups at home before they head out to Dubai. He says, “They’ve been building on some improved performances in recent years and what’s been a great advance is that they finally seem really committed to working hard at their games. Talent they’ve always had, now it seems they’ve got the desire to work on the areas that need improvement and it’s good to see.”

“If they had to leave today they’d be ready,” affirms Charlie Burke emphatically. Hong Kong will be playing two warm-up games in Dubai prior to their first WCL 2 match on Friday April 8 against Namibia.

Hong Kong Squad
Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 2 Schedule
Hong Kong Cricket Profile
UAE: Ready To Advance At Home

Filed March 29th, 2011