HK T20 Blitz - The Stars Descend on Hong Kong
The stars arrive for the third edition of the most highly anticipated franchise tournament in South East Asia.
With less than 24 hours to go before the start of the third edition of the Hong Kong T20 Blitz, the galaxy of global superstars of the game have already descended on this tiny island city. With no less than 27 international stars from 10 countries set to take part in this year’s tournament, it is already gearing up to be the showpiece event of the year, not only for cricket in Hong Kong, but for the game in the entire emerging (Associate and Affiliate) cricket world.
Hong Kong created a blueprint for success for other emerging nations to follow with last year’s outstanding event and with the success of the Desert T20 (UAE), The Everest Premier League (Nepal) and the Shapgeeza Cricket League (Afghanistan), there are franchise-based T20 tournaments mushrooming all around the world, attracting serious overseas talent. While last year’s tournament spanned 5 days, this year will see it expanded to 6 high- octane days with a plethora of international stars on display.
While the Hong Kong Sixes – a six-a-side tournament between countries – was an already well-established tournament staged from 1992-2012 and made a grand return last year- this is the event that has clearly put Hong Kong on the cricket map, and raised the profile of the sport in a city dominated by soccer and basketball. It also presents a unique opportunity for the budding talent of Hong Kong cricketers to rub shoulders with some of the game’s true greats and empower them with the knowledge to elevate their game to the next level. The event will also highlight the diversity of this vibrant city and bring together people from all walks of life. Finally, it provides a platform for the fans to get up close and personal with legends of the game, having thus far mostly watched their exploits on television.
With such iconic names as Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara, their emerging talented leg spinner Seekuge Prasanna, Pakistan pace bowlers Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Hussain Talat and their experienced wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal, the returning World T20 champions West Indians Darren Sammy, Dwayne Smith, Samuel Badree, and Rayad Emrit (who recently gained his international T20 cap) along with England’s Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel, Rikki Wessels and the returning pocket dynamo Ashar Zaidi, New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin and wicket keeper Luke Ronchi and South African all-rounders Johan Botha and David Wiese, their batting sensation Cameron Delport and Australian Ben Laughlin and this year’s BBL’s breakout star Jofra Archer, all set to showcase their amazing skills over the next few days, it will undoubtedly be a spectacle of cricketing action.
Yet, amidst all these big name signings, Cricket Hong Kong did not forget to show their support and solidarity for their Associate member brothers, as they continue to make it mandatory for each franchise to have at least one overseas player from an associate playing nation. The likes of Paul van Meekeren of the Netherlands, Kyle Coetzer of Scotland and Chetan Suryawanshi of Singapore stand to benefit immensely from this kind of exposure. Sandeep Lamichane of Nepal is testimony of how the Blitz helped in propelling him to the big league. He turned out for Kowloon Cantons in the 2016 edition and caught the eye of former Australian skipper Michael Clarke, who was also representing the franchise, which arguably paved the way for him being snapped up by The Delhi Daredevils in this year’s IPL auction. T20 tournaments like the Blitz can open doors for players from associate nations to land lucrative contracts in the IPL, BBL and the Natwest t20 Blast.
While last year’s event gained a viewership of close to 12 million viewers over the duration of the event (the event was streamed live on Cricket Hong Kong’s Facebook and YouTube channels), this year’s event looks set to increase that number over 10 fold with an expected viewership of about 175 million, with the event being televised for the first time. The revenue generated from huge broadcasting rights will make the Blitz even bigger and better in the coming years.
Hong Kong is set to witness an explosion of cricketing talent in the coming days and the world will be watching with baited breath to see if Cricket Hong Kong can replicate last year’s outstanding success. By constantly engaging with the Government, their sponsors, partners and the rest of the community, Cricket Hong Kong is definitely ‘Pushing The Boundaries Together’.
Cricket Hong Kong has pulled out all the stops to ensure it will be a memorable experience for everyone. With all the work done, arrangements made, it's time to now sit back and watch the marquee event of the year in the emerging cricket world unfold. So, if you are in Hong Kong, gather your family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances, get your tickets, and head down to Tin Kwong Road Recreation ground from the 6-11 of February to witness and experience what truly promises to be ‘A Carnival of Cricket’!