As an associate member of the ICC since 1969, the Hong Kong cricket team has been working its way up the international ladder ever since. Hong Kong is one of the highest non-Test ranked Asian nations, and one that made a gradual impact on world cricket over the years.
Thanks to their surprising breakthrough performance at the 2014 Cricket World Cup Qualifier, Hong Kong was granted ODI status, which has helped them to improve their global standing. They did not qualify for the World Cup during this competition, but their ODI status will last until 2018, and many pundits are predicting that Hong Kong will make further waves in the international game during that time.
As part of the British empire, cricket has had a long history in Hong Kong, and the first recorded instance of a match being played here was in 1841. The national cricket team of Hong Kong was founded about 25 years later, and they played their first matches against Shanghai in what were known as interport matches. In the decades that followed more matches were arranged against Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka, and The Straits, which was a group of British settlements. In the 1890s, after returning from a match against Shanghai, most of the Hong Kong team was killed in a shipwreck, which had a major impact on cricket in the region.
Some years later, in the early 20th century, Hong Kong established its first domestic league, and then, in 1969, the national team of Hong Kong was granted associate status by the ICC.
Hong Kong’s international record has been far from illustrious and they have struggled with all major International competitions and qualifying competitions. However, this has not stopped them from being ranked as one of the best teams in Asia, and one of the 20 best teams in the world. Hong Kong also seem to be improving as a team and much of their limited success has come in recent years.
Haseeb Amjad was a star player for Hong Kong during the 2014 ICC Trophy/Cricket World Cup Qualifier, which helped them to gain ODI status and to record one of their best finishing positions to date. He finished the tournament at the top of the leaderboard for most wickets taken. They have only recently gained ODI status, so the statistics for the most ODI wickets and runs mean very little, but some of their current stars include Tim Cutler, Nizakat Khan and Sanzeen Shahzad.
Hong Kong have yet to make it to a World Cup, although it’s not for the want of trying. They have played in many ICC Trophy competitions over the years, which serves as a World Cup Qualifying event. In 2014 they finished third, their best performance to date, but as only the top two teams went through, Hong Kong missed the big event and watched the United Arab Emirates and Scotland advance ahead of them.
This was still a big tournament for Hong Kong though, and one that bodes well for their future. Their finishing position helped them to gain One-Day-International status and it helped them up the international rankings. This was no easy feat either, as they had to beat leading associate nations Kenya to get there, and they also recorded a victory against the eventual winners Scotland.
This was a big improvement on previous years, as Hong Kong failed to even make it to this qualifying competition during 2009 and 2005, and they didn’t make it beyond the first round in 2001. During these years of limited form they also failed to qualify for the Intercontinental Cup, a competition they have always struggled to perform well in, and one they rarely qualify for. The World Twenty20 competition is also a good indicator of Hong Kong’s recent improvements, because they made their first entry into this competition in 2014.
In the World Cricket League, Hong Kong were declared Division Three champions in 2011, and they have recorded many fine performances in the ACC Trophy, including a victory in 2008 and several top three finishes.
In 2004, a Saturday League match in Hong Kong had to be cancelled when officials dubbed that it was a danger to passing traffic. Khaled Hussain Butt, a powerful Pakistani-born batter who is registered to play for Hong Kong, had scored 311 runs at the time, including 36 sixes. The concern was that his frequent hits out of the ground would cause injuries and accidents, so his great run was called to an abrupt end.