Photo Credit: Cricket Hong Kong
As a team that has won eight out of its last ten T20Is across pathway tournaments, Hong Kong China is one of the leading associate teams in Asia. 13 players from the city-state will be on show in the second edition of the FairBreak Invitational taking place from April 3 to 16 at the Kowloon Cricket Club.
National team captain Kary Chan is once again set to be a key figure in the South Coast Sapphires line-up. She conceded a shade over six runs an over on good batting surfaces during last year’s tournament. Speaking to broadcasters after a near-flawless innings of 122 off 55 balls during a domestic fixture last October, Chan revealed that she had been working on her range hitting ever since the 2022 edition. This April, if Chan can fire with both bat and ball, it will go some way toward boosting the Sapphires’ title hopes.
Pull To will be making her FairBreak Invitational debut lining up alongside Kary Chan, who is also her teammate at Craigengower Cricket Club, a team consisting entirely of ethnically Chinese players. A batter who is known for being busy at the crease, Pull To is arguably also the best fielder in Hong Kong.
K-Man Falcons are blessed with one of Hong Kong’s finest in Mariko Hill, who took the first-ever wicket in the history of the FairBreak Invitational. Her batting improved as the 2022 tournament progressed. She scored an unbeaten 30 in a partnership of 92 with Marizanne Kapp in the final against the Tornadoes. Within months of the 2022 tournament, Hill was selected to play for the Northern Diamonds in England’s regional competition before being adjudged the Player-of-the-Series on Hong Kong’s tour of Japan.
Partnering Hill at the K-Man Falcons is Marina Lamplough, who has established herself as a regular starter for Northern Districts. She flew below the radar in her debut season last year, conceding a mere 6.83 runs an over. The 23-year-old has a high ceiling and is capable of chipping in with useful runs down the order.
While five teams have two Hong Kongers in each of their squads, the Barmy Army have one more for good luck. Off-spinner Ruchi Venkatesh is coming off a stellar summer in the UK, where she took 11 wickets at an average of 24.64 with a best of 4-22 against St Lawrence & Highland Court CC in the Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL). She also played for Hampstead in the Middlesex 3rd Division Men’s League, taking impressive figures of 8-45. Her consistency earned her a trial at Middlesex County Cricket Club.
Even since making her Hong Kong debut toward the end of 2021, The Barmy Army’s Iqra Sahar has come on leaps and bounds. In addition to becoming more accurate with the ball, she topped the run charts at the 2022 Gencor CHK Women’s Premier League, scoring 228 runs in five innings. Come April, there is every chance Sahar could be a surprise package.
Last year, Maryam Bibi played just two games for the Tornadoes in which she neither bowled nor batted. These days, however, the 19-year-old is one of the first names on Hong Kong’s team sheet. Last June, in a game against Kuwait , who were 50 for 2 in a chase of 91 with nine overs left, Bibi snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat. She took 4 for 8 to bowl the opposition out for 60. Although the reigning champions seem like a settled unit, Bibi’s form has likely given captain Stafanie Taylor a selection dilemma.
Natasha Miles is another player pushing for a regular spot on the Tornadoes team sheet. Miles won the Middlesex CCC Women’s Player of the Year Award for the 2021/22 season. In the Vitality Women’s County T20, she scored 151 runs in 4 innings at a strike rate of 142.5, which included two fifties.
The Spirit’s Yasmin Daswani is yet another Hong Konger who impressed during the UK summer. Playing for Spencer CC alongside Mariko Hill, Daswani tallied an impressive 278 runs in 8 innings at an average of 34.75 and a strike rate of 92.67. She was also part of the FairBreak XI squad that whitewashed the Netherlands 3-0, scoring 39 off 36 in the second game to propel her side to a winning score of 148 for 4.
She will be joined in the green jersey by off-spinner Betty Chan. In spite of the fact that she conceded 55 runs in the six overs that she bowled across three games at the 2022 Invitational, she is arguably the most accurate and disciplined bowler in Hong Kong. A T20I career economy rate of 4.20 is a testament to her consistency.
FairBreak debutant Alison Siu has risen through the ranks in domestic cricket, having recently captained the Hong Kong Cricket Club to a second-place finish at the Gencor CHK Women’s Premier League. It won’t be easy for her to break into a rejigged Warriors line-up but the opportunity to train with professional athletes is something that could help her take her game up a level.
Shanzeen Shahzad is another player who may find it tough to break into the Warriors starting eleven. Although she is yet to deliver on her immense potential at international level, she may well be one opportunity away from kicking her career into second gear.
Another Hong Kong player in the mix but not part of the current Hong Kong Women’s squad is Kowloon Cricket Club veteran Keenu Gill. Gill is one of the best players to ever emerge out of the city state. Although she is an accurate medium pacer, batting is her stronger suit. The KCC all-rounder has a knack for finding gaps in the field and will be itching to get a go on her home ground for her team Barmy Army
Tickets are now on sale for the 2023 Cricket Hong Kong FairBreak Invitational on TicketFlap — https://www.ticketflap.com/fai…
Visit FairBreak.Net for more information.