A lack of funding has forced Cricket Hong Kong to postpone its two major world-class events – the World Sixes and Hong Kong T20 Blitz – but the governing body says it will bring both back in autumn 2019 for a week-long festival of cricket that would raise the profile of the sport in the city.
The Sixes was scheduled for October 26-28 2018 but CHK officials have spent the past few days telling teams and sponsors that it is off for this year. The Blitz, which was launched in 2016, was due to be held in February next year.
Both tournaments are now scheduled for October 2019, according to Jonathan Cummings, board member of China Cricket International Limited – Cricket Hong Kong’s commercial arm.
“With two established tournaments in such close proximity to each other – and in the midst of an increasingly congested international cricket calendar, particularly in February, we have seen an opportunity to create synergy by combining these two premier international tournaments into a unique multi-day festival of cricket,” said Cummings.
“This will allow us to realise the very exciting opportunities created by joining these two high-profile international events in a larger platform that will also showcase the best of Hong Kong cricket to the world.
“The new event will be built on a platform of innovation and inclusivity – values that truly showcase what cricket in Hong Kong is all about, from our outstanding national women’s team, to our work promoting the game in China and our outreach to local schools and Hong Kong’s non-ethnic Chinese community, for which this tournament holds particular relevance.”
Cummings said the Hong Kong Tourism Board approved HK$2 million in funding for the Sixes but the money would only have been handed over a few months after the event.
This meant we still had to find HK$2 million,” he said.
The Blitz, which has attracted star players such as Australia’s Michael Clarke, West Indian Darren Sammy and Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara, has grown in reputation but may have struggled to lure players in February 2019 because it was too close to the Australian Big Bash and the Pakistan Super League T 20 tournaments.
Cummings said failure to stage a Sixes event this year does not mean a return to the days when the tournament was on and off with the 2017 edition being revived after five years. He said sponsors were still keen to be part of the festival of cricket.
“While we share the fans’ disappointment at not having a Sixes or a Blitz in the short-term, by establishing the world festival on the cricket calendar a full year out, we are confident of creating a sustainable major event that will captivate local and international audiences and provide a compelling platform to promote Hong Kong and Hong Kong cricket worldwide, sustainably and long-term,” he said
“The festival format also provides greater opportunities for our commercial partners, including Virgin Atlantic, Accenture, Hublot and KPMG – whom we sincerely thank for their committed support to previous tournaments and their interest to be involved in the world festival of cricket – to benefit from their association with the game.”
Local fans are already set to enjoy plenty of cricket action in October with the Hong Kong senior team playing at home in the South China Cup and West Pacific Cup tournaments, alongside Papua New Guinea and Malaysia.
International celebrity cricket charity side, The Lord’s Taverners, will also tour Hong Kong next month, while a celebration of the T20 Blitz is planned for early next year as part of a year-long build-up campaign to the inaugural Hong Kong World Festival of Cricket.
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