The Blitz 2.0 - A Smashing Success!
The second edition proved that cricket has a chance of garnering a huge following in South east Asia.
Move over Lan Kwai Fong, Hong Kong has a new party address in town – ‘The Blitz’, at Mission Road. It serves up a heady cocktail of intoxicating cricket action, globe trotting superstar players and ebullient cricket fanatics. While this may be an annual event, it is definitely one worth marking down in your calendar.
The ‘Blitz’ has been aptly named you would say. Whether it was the whirlwind nature of the tournament, where the eventual winners were declared in less than a week’s time, or the blitzkrieg that ensued over 5 days of riveting action, both interpretations would merit the approval of all involved, for the title of this fabulous event.
Such was the carnage witnessed over the last few days at Tin Kwong Road recreation ground, that ‘damage caused by a flying cricket ball’ could soon become a legitimate insurance claim in Hong Kong. Spectators, apartment owners, pedestrians, car owners, neighbouring softball players, no one was safe as long as some of the world’s biggest hitters in the game were on show, in the second edition of the HK T20 Blitz.
If Kowloon Cantons’ West Indian sensation Dwayne Smith scored a blistering 121 not out and Hung Hom JD Jaguars’ Hong Kong young gun Nizakat Khan carried his bat with a flawless 120, then Pakistan Test and Hong Kong Island United captain Misbah-ul-Haq was not to be out done as he smashed four successive sixes in an over and scored back to back half centuries to light up the tiny but picturesque Mission Road ground. Along the way, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Kyle Coetzer, Nicholas Pooran, James Franklin, Chris Jordan, Kumar Sangakkara, Babar Hayat and Anshuman Rath all made telling contributions. Amidst all the mayhem though, there was some cheer for the bowlers as Hung Hom JD Jaguars’ Ashley Caddy took the only hat-trick of the tournament and England’s bowling all rounder Chris Jordan was named Player of the Series.
The weather forecast predicting slight rain for the week was outmatched by the cricket forecast, as it rained sixes and fours all day, everyday. The fans turned out in droves to support their favourite teams and players. People of all ages, from toddlers to senior citizens, were seen taking in the action. With the DJ churning out some popular house music, chart toppers and remixed versions of Bollywood classics, the crowd could not get enough of this cricket extravaganza. The thrill-a-second feature culminated in a high octane final between defending champions Kowloon Cantons and City Kaitak. With stellar performances from the Cantons’ and Hong Kong skipper (and Man of the Final) Babar Hayat, his opening partner and highest run scorer of the tournament Dwayne Smith and the ever impressive Pakistan all rounder Ashar Zaidi, The Kowloon Cantons were crowned champions for the second year running, having been declared joint winners with the Woodworm Island Warriors in the inaugural edition. The matches, apart from being played in front of packed houses over the weekend and sizeable ones during the rest of the week, were also streamed live on Cricket Hong Kong’s Facebook and YouTube channels and were watched by hundreds of thousands of cricket crazy fans all over the world. The organizers, owners and spectators could not have been happier as the curtain came down on a spectacular event.
The second serving of this T20 franchise tournament was a smashing success or dare we say a ‘Blitz’ing one! Congratulations to Cricket Hong Kong for staging a thoroughly professional and exhilarating event. As we bid adieu to the Blitz until next year, a shout out to some of the superstars who missed out on the action this year – Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Brendon McCullum, KP, Kieron Pollard…Hong Kong beckons!
Onto the Sixes now!