There are two leagues - one on Saturdays and the other on Sun- days. The Saturday League involves 35 overs per side matches and is contested by 17 teams, which play each other on a round-robin basis. The Sunday League is more serious, with 50 overs per side matches played under ICC rules (although bowlers are allowed to bowl a maximum of 13 overs), contested by 9 teams and played on a home-and-away basis. The end of the league season is followed by a knock-out cup competition. The Saturday Cup is usually boosted by a number of social teams that do not participate in the regular league competition.
Cricket in Hong Kong is played during the cooler months, between September and March. The early and late stages of the season can be very hot (30+ degrees Celsius), when it can also be very wet. The mid season is the coolest and driest, with temperatures in the 15-20 degree range. Playing in the winter can have its draw- backs, as ALL sports are played at that time of year and there is severe competition for the few grounds available. Additionally, it means that those players who have a passion for another sport have to make a choice of one or the other.
The majority of cricket matches are played on artificial wickets, although grass strips are used at the KCC and HKCC when the weather is dry enough to prepare wickets. The KCC`s ground, lo- cated in the heart of Hong Kong`s shopping strip on the Kowloon Peninsular, is by far the best in Hong Kong, both in terms of the quality of the wicket and the surroundings. It was the original venue for the Hong Kong International Sixes Tournament, moved in 1996 to the Hong Kong Stadium at Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island.
There is a marked variation in the ability of players, ranging from ex-first class cricketers to schoolboys, all playing in the same league. As a result some of the matches tend to be rather lop-sided affairs. Scores in excess of 300 have been recorded in the Saturday competition (35 overs) and scores over 400 have been recorded in the Sunday (50 overs) competition. A score of 469 was recorded in the Sunday competition in 1995/96 (the winning margin in that particular match was over 300 runs!) and a double century was scored by a Saturday player during the 1996/97 season.
Hong Kong Teams/Clubs
There are two major cricket clubs in the territory - the Hong Kong Cricket Club (HKCC) and the Kowloon Cricket Club (KCC). The KCC provides three teams in the Saturday League competition and three teams in the Sunday League, including the KCC Dragons - a team comprising of Chinese players and those born in the territory. The HKCC provides three Saturday sides and two Sunday sides.
The Craigengower Cricket Club (CCC) is one of the oldest cricket clubs in Hong Kong, celebrating it`s centenary in 1995) and they provide a Saturday team (sadly, they no longer have a ground).
The remaining teams are made up from `independent` club and association sides; corporate teams (e.g. Kai Tak are a Saturday team comprised of staff from Cathay Pacific and other Swire companies); schools (3); the Hong Kong University; and Police. The hand-over of Hong Kong to China in 1997 has not only seen the loss of the British Forces team this season, but also the loss of their grounds and facilities.
The Hong Kong Team and Development of Cricket
As an Associate Member of the ICC since 1969, Hong Kong has been represented in a number of regional and international cricket competitions. It has generally been one of the powerhouses of Asian cricket, although recent changes to the eligibility rules for ICC backed competitions has diminished its strength a little, due to the rather transient nature of people living and working in the territory.
The majority of representative players are expatriates, although a few locally born players are now coming through the ranks. This is largely thanks to the concerted effort by the Hong Kong Crick- et Association (HKCA) to develop the game in the local community. Young, talented, locally born players are now being sponsored to join cricket development programs in England and Australia. The success of the International Hong Kong Cricket Sixes has also raised the profile of cricket in the territory.
Cricket in Hong Kong is managed/administered by Cricket Hong Kong, a full- time professional body. The CHK's address is:
Cricket Hong Kong Room 1019, Sports House 1 Stadium Path, So Kon Po, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
Phone (+852) 2504-8101 Fax (+852) 2577-8486
1995/96 Champion Teams
Saturday League Champions - Merchants Saturday Cup Champions - Merchants Sunday League Champions - Pakistan Association Sunday Cup Champions - KCC Templars