Observations by Terry Smith, Former HKCA President
Cricket in Hong Kong is at the crossroads. On the first of July 1997 Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, thus ending 159 years of British rule under which cricket has established a strong tradition in Hong Kong.
There are some unique challenges facing cricket here that make the game an exciting experience, in keeping with the fast lifestyle of Hong Kong. Grounds suitable for cricket are at a premium in such a crowded city. Not only that but, given the oppressive summer heat and humidity, most sports are played in the cooler winter months including cricket, meaning even greater competition for use of grounds. Add to that the fact that many people in Hong Kong nowadays are reluctant to give up a whole day to play a game of cricket because of business or travel commitments, but still want to play.
In this environment it is necessary to cater for cricketers by being imaginative and flexible. Cricket in Hong Kong today is played over 35 overs (Saturday League) and 50 overs (Sunday League). The programme is tight but manageable. School matches are played in the mornings. A six-a-side competition has been introduced in the summer months to cater for more cricketers - although it is hot, these players are prepared to endure it for an hour and a half in the interests of getting a game.
The future of cricket will likely develop along the lines of:
- more cricketers wanting to play
- emergence of shorter, faster versions of cricket like eights during the traditional off-season
- more local players
Cricket has traditionally been a game dominated by expatriate players, but this is likely to change gradually - not because there will be fewer expatriate players, but because more people of Asian extraction will want to play, especially if games are shorter. Furthermore this will be important if Hong Kong wishes to remain Internationally competitive given the tightening of International eligibility rules.
If Hong Kong cricket takes the other road however the game could quickly be reduced to a non-event with no grounds on which to play.