The Hong Kong Cricket Association will introduce a number of changes to its domestic league structure for the 2011-12 season. Changes include the introduction of a new Premier League competition featuring one-day and two-day matches and the splitting of the former Saturday League into a two-division format.
Draft fixtures for all the new competitions have already been released.
The 2011-12 HKCA Premier League will feature ten rounds of matches between five teams from Hong Kong Cricket Club, Kowloon Cricket, Little Sai Wan Cricket Club, Pakistan Association and a combined team from the independent clubs in Hong Kong. Five rounds of matches will be played under international ODI rules (i.e. 50 overs per side) while the other five rounds will feature two-day games played over two innings and a maximum 200 overs.
Points scored in each round will accumulate and the overall Premier League Champion will be the team that scores the most points over both one and two day formats.
The first round of matches in the new Premier League will be played on 4th September 2011. All games will be played on grass wickets at HKCC, KCC and at Mission Road once that ground reopens at the end of October.
The purpose of the Premier League is to offer the best cricketers at each Club the opportunity to play a higher level of competition and for them to hone their skills over the longer format of the game.
Fixtures: 2011-12 HKCA Premier League
Sunday Championship League
The Sunday Championship League will replace the Sunday League although it will follow the same format (i.e. 50-over matches played under ODI rules). Each team in the eleven team competition will play twelve round-robin matches, with two semi-finals and a grand final to determine the overall Sunday Championship League champion.
The Sunday Championship League will start on 11th September 2011.
Fixtures: 2011-12 HKCA Championship League
Saturday Championship Division
The Saturday Championship Division replaces the Saturday League. Twenty teams will participate in two divisions. Division One will comprise the top ten placed teams from the 19-team 2010-11 HKCA Saturday League while Division Two will comprise the bottom nine teams plus a new team that has been invited to join the competition.
Teams in both divisions will play 13 round-robin matches before semi-finals and grand finals will determine the champion of each division. Both Division Two finalists will be automatically promoted to Division One in 2012-13 while the bottom two teams from Division One will be demoted to Division Two.
With the aim of getting more players involved in the game, Championship Division teams will only be allowed to play three players from the Premier League in any given match. In 2012-13, this number will drop to two players and in 2013-14 it will be reduced to one player.
Matches in the Saturday Championship Division will start on 10th September 2011.
The new team coming into Division Two will be called "Gay Lay Hung See" and will be made up of predominantly Chinese players. The new team is being supported by HKCA and HKCC and will use the Police Training College (PTC) ground as its base.
Fixtures: 2011-12 HKCA Championship Division
The Women's League will also change its format in 2011-12. The six teams will play one match against each other, after which the top three and bottom three teams will split into two pools. The teams in each pool will then play each other three more times.
The League Champion will be the team with the most points at the end of the pool matches.
The 2011-12 HKCA Women's league will start on 3rd September 2011.
Fixtures: 2011-12 HKCA Women's League
Commenting on the new league formats, National Coach Charlie Burke said "After seeing the domestic competition for the first time last year I believed two important factors were missing - an elite competition to challenge our best cricketers in different formats and a competition for players either starting out in cricket or more social players. Hopefully the new league structures address both these issues."
"From a National Team point of view, if we are to play in the I-Cup (Intercontinental Cup), the ICC wants to see us playing multi-day cricket and for me this (the Premier League) is a great way to get our players batting for long periods of time and having to bowl 3 or 4 spells in a day", he added.
Regarding the new Women's League format, Charlie said, "The women's game is truly developing and I felt that the top 3 teams where too strong for the other sides."
"This structure and format will allow for more competitive games and a regular season rather than a few games spread out over 6 or 7 months like previous seasons. It is certainly the aim of HKCA to develop more women to play the game and we would like to see a ten team competition by 2014-15," he added.