Kowloon Cantons in HK T20 Blitz 2017
The trailblazer for Blitz franchises, signing Michael Clarke last year, Kowloon Cantons looked to have the strongest squad going into the tournament but injury to some of their key overseas players has lessened their chances. Mikey Godsmark looks at how far they can go.
Owned by nine women, who each bring a different set of skills and experience to the set up. The Cantons got all the way to the final last year, sharing the trophy with the Woodworm Island Warriors after the final was washed out. Again they set the trend this year by signing some high profile names but injury may have seen their chances of securing the trophy outright in tatters. However, their foreign stars are backed up by arguably the best domestic set of players in the tournament and they could still win again.
Hong Kong’s captain and arguably their greatest batsman, Babar Hayat will also captain the Cantons. He comes of the back of scoring 173 and 31 in the I-Cup games, along with two scores in the 80s in the World Cricket League Championship. Also retained from last year is young medium-fast bowler Tanveer Ahmed, who has increasingly established himself in the Hong Kong bowing attack. Their last retained pick was Shahid Wasif a 19 year old batter who can also keep wicket. He combines his career as an international cricketer with being a student and frequently working 7pm to 7am as a security guard.
In the draft, the Cantons’ first pick was 17 year old all-rounder Waqas Khan who will turn 18 during the tournament. Kowloon also secured another medium-fast bowler in the draft with Eshan Nawaz joining the side who has broken back in to the Hong Kong set up over the past three months with good performances at the Desert T20 and in the series against Netherlands. The Cantons also drafted in the premier Chinese player in Hong Kong. Leg-spinner Li Kai Ming took eight wickets in four games at the East Asia Cup for the Dragonsand has made two T20 appearances for Hong Kong, taking one wicket.
Tymal Mills and Shahid Afridi were both meant to play for the Cantons but injury has forced both of them out leaving Kowloon with just four overseas players. Marlon Samuels, the man of the match from the World T20 final will have to take over Afridi’s all-rounder role and he will be his side’s lead spinner. Yasir Arafat will be Kowloon’s main seamer, bringing with him Natwest T20 Blast experience with Somerset, although he did not play at the PSL.
Dwayne Smith is another West Indies presence for the Cantons, coming straight from the PSL having played for Islamabad United. His medium pace combined with his powerful batting will be a potent combination. The associate pick for Kowloon is another one from Scotland. Calum MacLeod, the cultured top-order batsman will look to use the Blitz in order to get himself out of a poor run of form.
Mills and Afridi would have brought a lot to the Cantons bowling attack but there are still enough bowlers to keep scores low. All of their overseas players can bat and along with Babar Hayat and Shahid Wasif, they should be able to chase most scores with Smith and Samuels especially confident of taking advantage of the short boundaries.
Prediction: Hurt by injury but still strong. 2nd
Overseas Players: Dwayne Smith (WI), Marlon Samuels (WI), Yasir Arafat (Pak), Calum MacLeod (Sco)
Domestic Players: Babar Hayat (c), Tanveer Ahmed, Shahid Wasif, Waqas Khan, Isaac Poole, Ehsan Nawaz, Ahsan Abassi, Li Kai Ming, Muddasar Hussain, Angus Robson and Sunny Bhimsaria