Former England batsman Aftab Habib believes Hong Kong face a tough test in the ICC World Cricket League Division Four which gets underway in Tanzania next week. He also said that he harbours ambitions to become the first British Asian to coach a county team.
Habib, who now coaches Hong Kong, is, nevertheless, confident. "We have a very good chance of getting in Division 3. It's going to be a tough event," he told the ICC. "It's anybody's game ... it's about who plays best on the day. Everybody is pretty much equal in this tournament."
Hong Kong's preparations have centred on a ten-day tour to Sri Lanka where they played four practice games. "It was good to play against some really strong teams, against Academy and Development players who are knocking on the door of first-class cricket," he said. "There's no point playing against weak opposition and winning comfortably."
One problem facing his players is the lack of knowledge of their opponents. "It's always quite difficult. We know Afghanistan and I know things about the majority of guys who play for Italy," he said. "Against teams like Tanzania, who we know less about, it is much more important to your concentrate on your own game."
Habib, who made his two Test appearances almost a decade ago against New Zealand, joined Hong Kong as coach in October 2007 on a three-year contract after retiring in 2006. But he admitted that becoming a cricket coach wasn't always an ambition when he was younger.
"It was only at the age of 17 or 18 that I realised that I was going to be a professional cricketer and I just wanted to perform well for Leicestershire at the time," he said. "Having the opportunity to play for England was a huge honour as there are so many great cricketers to choose from. I never really thought about going into coaching, but I used to go in the off-season overseas to places like New Zealand, where I played and did some coaching to earn some money and I got a taste for it.
"My contract here is for three years - I have two to go - but my main ambition is to be first British Asian to coach a county team," Habib admitted. "You're seeing black managers in football in England. There aren't main British Asians or Asian coaches in cricket in England. That would be my goal and build my way up to coach a county team."