Associate teams need more exposure, says Hong Kong captain Rath

Having featured in two official ODIs in three days, Rath wasn't sure about what lies ahead for Hong Kong cricket, a team without an ODI status.

Hong Kong captain Anshuman Rath wants ICC to help Associate teams play more matches.   -  AFP

As he sat down for what was to be his last media briefing at the Asia Cup, Hong Kong captain Anshuman Rath carried mixed feeling. He referred to his team's outing against India as “bitter-sweet” in his heavily accented English, adding that once it had “India by the horns”, Hong Kong “should have finished that game off”.

Despite the 26-run loss on Tuesday night, Hong Kong – the only Associate nation to feature in the continental showdown – made a sterling statement not only for itself but for all the Associate teams, who are largely handed step-motherly treatment by cricket's governing body. Rath hoped that the ICC would ensure more games against top sides to the Associate teams.

“I think it’s more exposure to high level cricket. You look at Afghanistan as a prime example. From 2011-2015, they were performing like us, upsetting the odd teams but going through a string of performances where they were getting bowled out for 140-150 on good decks, just like we did against Pakistan,” Rath said.

“But with the right backing, they started getting better and better, training a lot harder and fully contracted. The professionalism was there and now they’re pretty much about to top group B. That’s something that lacks in Associates – the exposure to high level of cricket and today we proved we’re capable of it, and a lot of teams are. Look at Scotland at the World Cup qualifiers, they narrowly missed out. We just need that recognition."

Having featured in two official ODIs in three days, Rath wasn't sure about what lies ahead for Hong Kong cricket, a team without an ODI status. “We don’t know what the ICC have planned for us. Hopefully this performance helps. The next three-four years will be quiet for us, going into a rebuilding phase, but hopefully the ICC recognise that Associate cricket has got a lot better and we proved that today,” he said.

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