Hong Kong : Cricket’s shortest version has attracted two of the biggest names of all time, as superstars Shane Warne of Australia and Brian Lara of the West Indies join the star-studded All Stars team for the Cathay Pacific/Standard Chartered Hong Kong Cricket Sixes’ later this month.
The duo join India’s Virender Sehwag and Anil Kumble, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi and Zimbabwe’s Heath Streak. The team will have at least one more superstar as the seventh player before the tournament gets underway.
Hong Kong’s annual carnival of cricket, first played in 1992 and famed for its frenetic pace and high-scoring action, returns to the Kowloon Cricket Club Oct 27-28.
Eight Test playing nations, hosts Hong Kong and the All Stars Team will figure in the two-day event.
The 38-year-old Warne, one of the most dynamic players of the game’s modern era and Test cricket’s leading wicket taker with 708 scalps, has been named the All-Stars captain in his first Sixes outing. His highly rated leadership skills will ideally complement his power hitting and famed leg-spin bowling in cricket’s most action-packed format.
In a career of many highs, perhaps Warne’s greatest moment came at the last Boxing Day Test. By dismissing England opener Andrew Strauss at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Warne became the first player to claim 700 Test wickets as Australia went on to crush England 5-0 in the series and reclaim the Ashes.
Lara, who retired earlier this year as Test cricket’s leading run scorer with 11,953 runs, should find runs aplenty at the Kowloon Cricket Club’s short boundaries. The ‘Prince’ played in Hong Kong as a 25-year-old in 1994, just months after a golden seven-week stretch in which he notched scores of 375 versus England and 501 versus Durham, batting for Warwickshire, to set world records for the highest score in both Tests and first-class cricket.
Lara reclaimed Test cricket’s highest score mark in 2004, again against England in Antigua, when he flayed 400 not out to wrest the record back from Matthew Hayden of Australia.
Soon after signing up the Sixes event, Warne said: “I am thrilled to be taking part in the Cathay Pacific/Standard Chartered Hong Kong Cricket Sixes for the first time. Hong Kong is an amazing city and with players like Brian, Virender and Shahid in our side, I am very confident we will be able to give the other teams a real run for the Sixes crown.
“I have heard so much about the event from some of the great players that have been here over the years, so to come and play myself is very exciting.”
Added Lara: “Although I first came to Hong Kong for the Sixes many years ago, I still remember what a thrilling tournament it was. The small ground makes this format of the game a treat for both players and spectators.
“No other ground in the world allows cricket fans to be as close to the action as they are in Hong Kong, which with the names we have on our team this year makes it incredibly exciting for both players and spectators.”
This year’s event will feature the world’s eight leading cricketing nations — defending champions South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, England and the West Indies — plus hosts Hong Kong and, for the first time, an All-Star Team.
Last year, an unfancied South Africa defeated four-time champions Pakistan in a thrilling final.
In the past stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Akram, Andrew Flintoff, Adam Gilchrist, Desmond Haynes, Glenn McGrath, Viv Richards and Steve Waugh have also played in Hong Kong.
For this year’s event, the 10 teams have been drawn into three groups for round-robin play:
Bradman Group: England, India, New Zealand
Sobers Group: All-Stars, Australia, South Africa, West Indies
Cowdrey Group: Hong Kong, Pakistan, Sri Lanka