Hong Kong squad eyes another giant step forward at 2009 Cricket Sixes

Under 19 Cricket World Cup qualifying hero Irfan Ahmed will have the opportunity to push Hong Kong into the international cricketing spotlight once again after being named in the hosts' training squad for the 2009 Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, to be played at

Under 19 Cricket World Cup qualifying hero Irfan Ahmed will have the opportunity to push Hong Kong into the international cricketing spotlight once again after being named in the hosts' training squad for the 2009 Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, to be played at the Kowloon Cricket Club on October 31-November 1.
The dynamic young all-rounder is part of the youthful new generation of Hong Kong internationals to have recently earned national team honours and enjoyed success - and now a call up to the Sixes.
Hong Kong's 10-man squad includes Irfan's older brother Nadeem, Nizakat Khan, Aizaz Khan, Tanvir Afzal plus the more experienced Moner Dar, Najeeb Amar, Mark Wright, Roy Lamsam and 2004 Sixes Player of the Tournament Hussain Butt.
The training squad will be trimmed to the required seven players closer to the event. Hong Kong finished fourth at the 2008 Cricket Sixes, their best-ever result at the tournament.
The 19-year-old Irfan is sure to be a serious contender for inclusion in the Hong Kong team after his man of the match performance in Hong Kong's final game against the United States in recent the Under 19 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Toronto. Irfan also scored 102 runs in three innings without being dismissed on day one of the 2008 Sixes and was unlucky not to pick up the Player of the Tournament award.
Said Irfan: "While the qualifying tournament for the Under 19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand next year was an amazing experience, I now am looking forward to playing against established stars like Craig McMillan and Scott Styris in this year's Hong Kong Sixes. This will be a true test of my development and I am eager for this opportunity."
Under the tournament's new pool system for 2009, Hong Kong has been grouped with Australia, New Zealand and South Africa in the Southern Hemisphere, while the North includes defending champions England alongside India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. With all round one matches being played on the Saturday it promises to be an incredible first day of big match ups including Australia vs New Zealand and India vs Pakistan.
The youngster is relishing the opportunity.
"There are already a number of big names that are playing the Sixes, so we are looking forward to it. We are in the same group as New Zealand, so playing against a former tournament MVP in McMillan and Styris who will be coming from Twenty20 Champions League will be a great test," added Irfan.
Captain Shahzada Saleem Ahmed, President of the Hong Kong Cricket Association, said: "With talented home-grown players such as Irfan and Nadeem, Hong Kong have a great opportunity to show that last year's finish and the World Cup qualifier are steps towards a bright future for the game here."
Hong Kong's 'southern hemisphere rivals' South Africa have also confirmed their team for the 2009 Sixes with a squad loaded with short-game specialists. The team includes popular power hitter Loots Bosman, a Sixes veteran. The 32-year-old has played 12 ODIs for his country and scored the fasted fifty (from 22 balls) in South Africa's domestic Twenty20 competition - making him the ideal batsman for the small Kowloon Cricket Club boundaries.
In addition, Davy Jacobs, Werner Coetsee, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan Bailey, Farhaan Behardien and David Wiese will come to Hong Kong along with Corrie van Zyl as coach/manager.
Ticket prices have also been revised in 2009, allowing fans to purchase two-day passes for $HK680 for adults, a 13 per cent discount over last year, while children's tickets will be available for $380, a reduction of 15 per cent.
To give spectators greater flexibility, for the first time single-day passes will also be available at $HK300 (Saturday)/$470 (Sunday) for adults and $180 (Saturday/$220 (Sunday) for kids. Tickets are on sale through HK Ticketing, the Kowloon and Hong Kong Cricket Clubs and Dot Cod restaurant in Central.
The host broadcaster for the 2009 Hong Kong Cricket Sixes will again be Taj TV-owned Ten Sports from Dubai, who will provide a live broadcast of the entire event into Hong Kong, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Australia and South Africa.
Additional coverage will also be seen in North America, the United Kingdom, Europe and China. The 2008 Sixes was broadcast to 80 million households worldwide.
First played in 1992, the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes is the longest-running international tournament of its kind and will this year celebrate its 15th edition. As such, the Sixes has been included by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as a 'Catch the Spirit' event to celebrate the global governing body's centenary celebrations.
- ENDS -
About the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes
In 2009, the Sixes has been selected as an ICC Centenary Celebration World Event and will feature a special ceremony to honour 100 years of the International Cricket Council and the Spirit of Cricket.
Six-a-side cricket is the quickest, most fun-filled version of the game - a feast of world-class players, thrilling matches and big hits.
First played in 1992, the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes is the longest-running and highest-profile Sixes tournament in the world. It offers two days of fast and furious action in a festival atmosphere - eight international teams, 45-minute clashes and global television coverage.
Stars who have taken part include Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Javed Miandad, Steve and Mark Waugh, Viv Richards, Andrew Flintoff, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, Adam Gilchrist, Wasim Akram, MS Dhoni and Sanath Jayasuriya.
The Sixes won the prestigious 2007 ICC Award for Best Cricket Promotional and Marketing Award.
England recorded a record fifth Sixes title last year after a stunning final in which they finished tied with Australia on 121 runs. When Australian batsman Stephen O'Keefe was run out attempting a second run from the final delivery that would have given his team victory, England were confirmed victors as they had lost fewer wickets (three wickets to one).
In a nod to the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes reputation for being a breeding ground of young talent, amongst the leading scorers in the final was Jonathan Trott, who scored a century on debut in England's Ashes win last month, along with Australia's Twenty20 opening bat wunderkind David Warner.
For further information, please contact:
Damien McDowell
T: +852 2815-9876
M: +852 9409-5811
Erica Liu
T: +852 2815-9871
M: +852 9186-6877