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Welcome to another season. However, this is no ordinary season. It is the Centenary of League cricket in Hong Kong. A proud occasion and testimony to the popularity and durability of the sport that we hold so dear.

The road to celebrating the Centenary has not been a smooth one, and in recent years we have had to face a number of difficulties. On the domestic front, the loss of grounds such as DBS and KGV in addition to the grounds lost as a result of the change of sovereignty in 1997, placed a severe strain on the league programmes as well as restricting the opportunities for social cricket. On the International front, the Asian financial crisis, and the resultant tightening of corporate purse strings, meant that the Hong Kong International Sixes disappeared from the sporting calendar.

These are still challenging times for the cricket in Hong Kong but I believe that we have reason to be optimistic for the future. Although far too many to name individually in this message, I would like to express my thanks to those that have helped to take the Po Kong Village Road ground from being overgrown wasteland to hosting Saturday and Sunday League cricket in the space of three years. Indeed, for the coming season we will be able to boast two artificial wickets at the ground which will help greatly to alleviate the pressure on the fixtures.

November of this year will see the third year of the International Sixes following its welcome return to the Kowloon Cricket Club. This year promises to be the most competitive yet with New Zealand returning to the competition and Kenya making her debut.

In addition to this, our development programme continues to make great strides with more yougsters participating in the School Playground Leagues and Junior Leagues than at any time in our history.

There will still be difficulties ahead, but I believe that we are well equipped to meet these challenges. The two established cricket clubs and the Independent Cricket Clubs give the HKCA much valued support, and help enormously in the development of young cricket talent in Hong Kong. These clubs however owe their success to the greatest natural resource that we have and that is you, and all the other individual cricket lovers that make up the community that has contributed to making it a Centenary of cricket here.

Mike Walsh

Hong Kong Cricket Association