Transcript: Couch Talk with Tim Cutler, HKCA

Couch Talk 179 (Play)

Guest:  Tim Cutler, CEO, Hong Kong Cricket Association

Host: Subash Jayaraman

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Subash Jayaraman (SJ): Hello and welcome to Couch Talk. The guest today is the CEO of Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA), Tim Cutler. Tim talks about his journey from New South Wales to the Chief Executive position, the challenges of leading an emerging cricketing nation, and the impact of ICC’s revenue redistribution plans through the much maligned “position paper”, amongst other things.

Welcome to the show Tim.

Tim Cutler (TC): Thank you. Thanks for having me on.

SJ: My pleasure. You are from New South Wales, Australia, and you became the Chief Executive of Hong Kong Cricket Association in May of 2015. Could you briefly take us through that journey?

TC: It’s a lifelong passion of cricket that got me here eventually, but my career started in Marine Insurance which I fell in to straight after high school. A lot of the people, if not all, in the insurance industry have similar story of falling in to it and finding it hard to get out of. There are a lot of jealous people in the industry that have seen me get out. The [insurance career] took me to Brisbane and a lot of trips to London and Hong Kong, and eventually moving to Hong Kong, which is what brought me originally to Hong Kong in September 2013. The company that I worked for since 2008 in Sydney, their head office was in Hong Kong. So I moved up here. The CEO role for HKCA came up in late 2014. It was quite a long process, as it would be for such an important position, and eventually came on in May 2015. 

SJ: You are actively playing cricket still?

TC: Yes, I still play for the Hong Kong Cricket Club. Actually, when I arrived here, I threw myself back in to cricket as I’d be in Sydney as well. I’d played Grade Cricket since I was 17 years old. I played for Eastern Suburbs at the Waverley Oval near Bondi beach my entire grade career. I made my first grade debut when I was 19, playing against Mark Waugh in his last grade game for Bankstown at the Bankstown Oval. It’s always great to play against someone whose poster sits on your bedroom wall. That was a great experience actually. 

I was lucky to be in the club along with the guys at the time, Greg Mathews, Anthony Stewart, Mark Patterson and Adrian Tucker, and to also be there to watch David Warner come through the ranks and also with Brad Haddin, and guys like Peter Nevill who’s in the club now, a very strong club and a great place to be. 

SJ: This CEO role with Hong Kong, is that full time role or are you juggling it still with your insurance career?

TC: No, very much full time. After 15 years, I was able to exit the insurance industry and use all that experience in this role. 

SJ: Hong Kong is one of the 38 Associate nations, as classified by the ICC. First of, is that sort of classification even necessary?

TC: I’ve always looked at it from an Australian point of view but now looking at it from an Associate member point of view, I can see where the classification came from the ICC – International Cricket Conference it was back then, to assign their resources to various cricket federations around the world. As time as gone on, I am not sure that model fits what cricket is trying to be now – an admirable goal of being the world’s favorite sport. We really have to make sure the ICC and the structures around that are set up for that, to encourage the sport taken up by as many people as possible. By having the classes of membership, it’s probably not the best way to do that. It’s not something that can be changed overnight, but I’d like to think there are people who are forging plans to create pathways from the newest or smallest of cricket nations all the way to the top to make it easier without these hurdles and gates that really don’t exist any more. Assigning membership classes to nations and funding along those lines I’m not sure works any more. We’ve got to be a lot more… meritocratic is the word they use. We really have to target the places where growth can happen and focus on that, but provide real logical pathways for countries and players with talent to come through. You can look at the Full Members and their funding, and see why there are members, but how are we going to be world’s favorite sport? You’ve got the hurdles for countries behind Zimbabwe. Countries like Ireland and Afghanistan make in the end 10-20% of what Zimbabwe get, and yet you see how well somebody like Afghanistan has been doing…

SJ: Even amongst Full Member nations, there is a huge disparity, going from countries like India, England and Australia to West Indies and Pakistan and down on to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe… The restructuring of the ICC’s financial model that happened in early 2014 which was a naked money grab in my point of view, there is no equal sharing of the ICC revenue, and some nations are more equal than the others. How do you go about growing a sport when there are such obvious disparity in resources?

TC: It is a very tough one. The strength of cricket both financially and the way it’s been able to project itself especially in the last decade or so, is definitely in relation to the sport in India and the sporting market has matured so quickly there along with the actual economy of India itself. Whilst acknowledging that, we have got to find a model that fairly rewards and incentivizes the entire world. Yes, you are right, there are countries that are more equal than the others but hopefully we are seeing a growth curve of cricket over time to get somewhere that is a lot more even. You’ve got your Big Three, and we don’t ned to expand on it as it’s been spoken about so much already. You have got your Number One ranked Test team – South Africa – down at four in the funding model, and so far behind the Big Three, something is not right there. But after all, unfortunately, cricket as a sport is a product these days. It’s a vehicle for companies to get their name out there through sponsorship and other corporate and social responsibility initiatives. We have got find that delicate balance between the product of cricket and the sport of cricket. I think we can do better. We need to embrace potential growth markets – I know places like USA have already been worked on – but more so with virgin turfs with the likes of China that is really growing with the development of sport as a part of the community. Hong Kong is very closely aligned to that despite its different history over the last 150 years, and is really ingraining sport as an intrinsic part of a child’s development.

SJ: In your 9 months as CEO of HKCA so far, have you seen things beyond some throw away lines in press conferences like “Perhaps we will consider T20 in Olympics”, that are being done more concretely? Have you seen things that puts cricket first ahead of individual nations’ commercial interests?

TC: I know there have been some positive changes with respect to T20 in Olympics, and that’s not just rhetoric. That is actually happening behind the scenes. David Richardson gets unfairly spoken of in the press as the CEO of ICC. As an ex-Test cricketer, people expect him to act more like a passionate cricket fan rather than a professional CEO, but he works very hard behind the scenes for all cricket, and within the ICC, the development teams are great as well. I know how hard the ICC pushes for cricket’s development and for T20 in the Olympics. I hope the recent changes within the ICC board will actually get us moving in the right direction. There has always been a close relationship between the IOC and the ICC. From the developmental background, I know that’s happening in the background. I have had discussions with various people including John Stephenson, MCC’s head of cricket, who has seen it from the inside, and things are moving in the right direction there. 

The olympics, that’s one things and I’m happy to come back to it at a later time, as I have my thoughts on it, but things like the 10-team World Cup… I can’t imagine a more regressive step, if we look at the success of the 14-team World Cup. I really do think there are scars from the 2007 World Cup in West Indies and what happened with the crowds and how the event seemed to drag on. There seems to be an emotional stop there of people thinking that, that size of an event with groups where big teams could get knocked out, but that’s the point of a world cup. You look at the Football World Cup when Australia was able to knock out the likes of Japan and Serbia, that’s the point of it. You’ve got to be “On” to be the best in any world stage. FIFA’s got its issues but if you look at how they have developed the sport around the world, there is no denying how well they have done. 

Look at the success of Rugby in Japan. Japan went from 300,000 watching their match against South Africa to 30 million watching the next match despite it being held at stupid-o-clock. We can’t ignore what’s happening around the world. Look at Rugby Sevens, and what it has done for the sport, and the commercial and governmental engagement around the world for these sports that get Olympic status, and we should potentially be looking to use these opportunities as well [in Cricket]. 

Beyond that, the World T20 and the World Cup, we have really got to decide what these events are to cricket and how they fit in to cricket’s development as well. 

SJ: At the top of the show we talked about the more egalitarian aspect of the member nations. Is their any movement in that direction where teams are at least treated on an even keel?

TC: I haven’t seen any actual change on that regard. We’re lucky enough in Hong Kong to have our honorary secretary, Dr. John Cribbin, member of ICC chief executives committee, and I also know Warren Deutrom [CEO, Cricket Ireland] quite closely. We talk a lot about what’s happening now. I think there is always positive discussion in this regard, and I think with the recent changes at the top of the ICC board and with meetings coming up in January, I wouldn’t say confident but I’m hopeful we’re going to see things moving in the right direction. That’s as much as I can say because I honestly don’t know. 

SJ: Let’s talk about Hong Kong cricket here. In your capacity of the CEO, what are your challenges, both in the short term and in medium/long term? 

TC: Short term, number 1, screaming in red writing in huge bold font is, facilities. At the moment we only have 3 grounds that have turf wickets. After the handover, Hong Kong cricket unfortunately we lost about 4 grounds that were on military grounds at that stage, but over time there has also been other grounds, generally in schools, unfortunately that have been eaten up by astroturf football pitches, or the school doesn’t have cricket there any more. So being able to secure cricket facilities for kids and for adults that want to play is unfortunately the biggest constriction at the moment to the development of the sport here. Number two would be engaging the local community. Cricket has been here for 100 years…

SJ: Forever!

TC: Exactly. Ever since the British have been here cricket has been here. There have been times in history–I have seen some great paintings, or photographs, sorry, of Chinese Hong Kong kids playing cricket in the streets in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but unfortunately that passion hasn’t grown like it has in India or in other subcontinental countries where it is a genuine passion. 

People talk about “why would you want to play cricket or push cricket in Hong Kong, there is no where to play it.” But I think it’s the other way around–when you want to play cricket, you will find places to play. You see some great articles and pictures of Pakistan, for example, of tape ball cricket in back alleys and more or less slum conditions where people are finding ways and chances to play cricket. So local engagement is a big one. We really need to make sure the sport fits Hong Kong’s next generation. There is a very full sports market because we play in the one season because of the tropical climate. We enjoy it, but it means we can’t play sports during the summer months, so every sport is played between the months of September and April/May, and the longer the season gets the hotter it gets at each bookend of the season, so that also means the fields that you might be able to play both sports, being a summer winter sport, normally in more temperate conditions we cannot. So we’re competing with soccer, we’re competing with rugby. 

Rugby is huge here on the back of the Sevens, so there are hundreds of millions of Hong Kong dollars there to invest in facilities and development programs, so we have twenty employees here including groundsmen and coaches, and rugby has at the moment I think about one hundred and twenty. So you probably wouldn’t know it, but there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes of rugby and the Sevens and the Fifteens, but that’s how well they are doing, but that’s what we are up against. So being able to engage the local community with a sport like cricket, which on the face of it is quite complicated–you can’t just turn up at a ground and understand what is going on–so I think the challenge for the sport here is to really get junior programs that make sense, similar to what Brazil has done. Their work has been just to make it fun and show the fun aspect of it, and how easy it can be and how easy we can make it for them to get access to the chance to play, but also for us to engage with the parents as well, the ones who are making the decisions about which sports the kids play, and to have them see cricket. 

SJ: Do you have a target of number of adult players that you want to have by the end of 2016/2017? Or how many school children how many you want to be playing, and within that school children in terms of.. because Hong Kong is more than 90% Chinese, how much of that community do you want participating? Do you have targets of that sort?

TC: Well, I’ll tell you that the adult numbers at the moment are maxing out at a thousand full time cricketers that are playing in a league,  it being the Challenge League, which is very much a recreation community cricket Sunday league, and our top tier premiere league. I think we’ve really got to be setting targets around how many kids, and local Hong Kong Chinese kids are going to be playing, and it really does depend again on facilities. We’re hopefully about to announce a new facility coming on which will have three cricket grounds, which will be a boon for what we can do for cricket here development wise, but I’d like to think that of the probably 4000 kids that we have in programs at the moment, we’d like to be able to double that in the next two to three years by not only using the new grounds we have but also by having more targeted development programs that actually have the chance to scale when they succeed, rather than taking a shotgun approach and just sending development officers out to as many schools as they can and running courses, because I don’t think that is going to succeed. There are so many sports out there we need to find where the success will be and then grow from there. Rather than looking at a short term one year goal as an example, I think we really need to look more midterm there and get some success out of the programs we’re developing now, which will be around that cricket Hong Kong Sixes brand, and be able to scale them when they succeed. It’s evident in Hong Kong that there are so many sports out there and so many offerings to schools, that we’ve got to be a lot more targeted in where we go and really find partners out there rather than just do courses blindly and hope people are going to turn up. 

SJ: On that same theme, you have Ming Li your first Chinese player, native player, he is a leg-spinner picked up as a rookie player for the Sydney Sixers, and you have Mark Chapman who is an excellent player of both New Zealand and Chinese heritage, and now you have a ground that is accredited as an ODI ground with ODI status. Is there that combination of things where you have that role model and now you have a facility where you can maybe have IPL games or BBL games, or as a neutral venue like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Are you planning something along those lines as well? 

TC: Well things are moving in the right direction, and Ming picked up by the Sixers is a great opportunity for both the Sixers and ourselves to show what cricket can do for someone who comes from very much a local Hong Kong Chinese community and how it has changed his life, but on the facility front you mention the ODI ground. The ground we had approved is only approved as an ODI ground for Associate/Affiliate T20Is and ODIs, I’ll make that clear, so in terms of it being able to host an IPL or BBL game, I don’t think it is to that standard. However, with the development of the old airport at Kai Tak, and the government is considering their options with a multipurpose sporting facility that they are putting in there, and I have actually pitched exactly as you said, the potential neutral venue for Tests, one day internationals, and next-tier world tournaments be it U-19 world cups, ladies world cups, or qualifying tournaments, and also to the likes of the IPL and BBL as well, by hosting matches or franchises. So, yes, from a midterm point of view I guess, the longer the Kai Tak complex takes we’re looking more mid to long term, up to a decade, but I think that’s a great example of how we can show what we are trying to add ourselves, and rather than sitting with our hands out saying “where’s our money?” we can actually create value for ourselves by bringing a product to East Asia that is unique, and will potentially have the best facility there and only two hours away from another potentially class facility in Guangzhou which unfortunately hasn’t been utilized as much as it could have after hosting the Asian Games back in 2010. They had their cricket competition there.

SJ: I mentioned Mark Chapman, and he has New Zealand heritage as well, he goes to Auckland University, I mean obviously if he wants to play Test cricket, as of now the pathway is that he goes and plays in New Zealand. Him walking away, what kind of blow is that to your Hong Kong cricket system? And similar to what used to happen with Ireland, where Irish players were picked off by England because that was the only way, so if there is no change in the structure of how a nation can play Test cricket, how do you expect teams like Hong Kong and Ireland to hold on to talent? Could you talk about Chapman as well?

TC: Well you’re bang on. It makes it very hard for emerging cricket nations to hold on to their talented players who either have heritage elsewhere or are able to play cricket in that country and get to a point where they qualify. The qualification is four years, and you only have to be there for six months plus one day of that preceding four year period to qualify for a nation, unless of course if you were born there or hold that country’s passport, which means another variable there too. So Mark Chapman, a class player, I think he has been unlucky to not get as many accolades as he deserves with the way that he played in the last year, really, since I’ve come on to watch him bat in the T20 qualifiers, despite him not getting a 50 he was one of the best batsmen I think. The way he batted in situations showed a calmness beyond his years and in games that were consequential, that actually meant something for Hong Kong cricket–that innings against Afghanistan, winning that game means a lot of funding, losing that game means a do or die play off against Papua New Guinea, a very strong country as well. We talk about cricket of consequence, there is nothing more than that game to show when cricket actually means something. And the way he played in the UAE after getting off the plane as well–he had his university exam, almost missed his flight to Dubai, got off the plane, goes out there and bats and scores the second fastest one day international hundred on debut, done by the youngest person, and one of only ten men to have done that. That’s amazing! The UAE, I know they are a little understrength as what they were in the World Cup, but they were in the World Cup! That’s no mean feat and you want to talk about class or membership levels, that’s a one day international and not even mentioned at the ESPN awards as an ODI performance of 2015. I think that just shows how far we have to come before the emerging cricket nations beyond that top 10 until we actually get a fair suck at the suds, so to speak. 

SJ: That’s something I want to ask–Ireland have been there and thereabouts for a long time, now they are getting a lot more recognition. For the development period, for example if you want to push Hong Kong regularly in the conversation so there are more outlets covering it and, as you said, Mark Chapman’s accomplishments, how thankless of a job is it, when you put your heart and soul in it and there isn’t the least bit of recognition globally?

TC: Well, for a cricket tragic and someone who now works as CEO of an emerging nation, it’s soul-destroying, I would say.

You get emotional about these things, and I’m not going to pretend that I don’t, and I think to some degree Hong Kong doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. It has a perspective to many of being just, in inverted commas, “just another team of expats.” If people actually look beyond what names they see on the list.. say in our best eleven, eight of those have learned the sport in Hong Kong, and half of those were actually born here. There’s only three guys that you’d deem as “qualifiers” on our team, and they’ve been here over seven years and either have a Hong Kong passport or are in the process of applying for permanent residency.  

I don’t think we get the same exposure as another country that has the same, again, quote-unquote, “indigenous” element or at least a majority of those, when the guys you see on the Hong Kong side–I’m going a little bit off track there, but our Hong Kong cricket, they come through the Hong Kong system, they’ve been coached here from when they first picked up a bat. Yes, they come from families where cricket has a lot more deeper heritage and following, but if you can’t start building with the second and third generations of people who have come from cricket playing nations, then where else can you go? We’re lucky that we have a large community of cricket playing nation’s expats, although now they’re Hong Kongers! 

Jamie Atkinson, born in Hong Kong, Mark Chapman, born in Hong Kong, Anshuman Rath born in Hong Kong. This is Hong Kong’s future, and again this is where the emotion comes in! You even see in the [World T20] promotional videos and ads that are out, very seldom do you see the Hong Kong guys there, despite how high we are in the world rankings. I think there’s almost an expectation that we’ve crested in our wave and we’ll just go down. It’s very much a focus of all of us, and especially me, that we don’t regress from where we are at the moment, we only go higher and higher. 

We have a smaller pool of players and we have our challenges, but we also have some of the best coaching staff in the world. So yeah, it makes it very hard. There are changes that need to be made in qualifications for players to allow development of those emerging nations to come a lot easier, and whether that’s an amnesty period for those players who have played for associate nations, or were born there, to be able to leave a full member if they perhaps qualify to allow for them to go back and play, that also means those emerging nations need to have the opportunity of playing Test cricket or a variant depending what it gets called all the way through. We need to have the best cricketers playing the best cricket possible. *Sighs.* Yeah.

SJ: I want to get your inputs on one topic, which was that when Hong Kong played England in UAE and there was possibly an ODI status to that game and then later on there wasn’t, it was 13 a side and you gave an explanation of what happened, et cetera et cetera, and the cost of organizing it which was $100,000. From my point of view, $100,000 is nothing when it comes to the ECB. If the teams were actually keen on growing sport and helping out nations in need, I would think they should do that without a second thought. On top of it, Hong Kong has had ODI status for nearly two years now and you have it for another two years, and you’ve played one fixture against a full member nation so far. I mean, we are talking about the development of the game and so on and so forth, but based on those two things I can tell the top dogs don’t really care where cricket as a sport goes as long as they are happy.

TC: Well, yeah. It was a frustrating situation and nailed the head in terms of how many games we have played, and it brings in the question of “what is the point of having ODI status?” I think it was Malcolm Cannon recently, the even newer than me CEO of Cricket Scotland, talking about, “what is the point of having status if we don’t actually get to use it?” We worked, quoting him, “bloody hard to get it,” and I know how hard Hong Kong worked as well, especially that 2014 tournament when we both got ODI status, and what does it actually mean to us? All it meant was that even when we get an opportunity to play a full member it’s harder than it should be to be able to play proper status of game. Look at when Australia plays England again in a football friendly–it’s still an international, it still counts. The whole notion of friendly and warm-up games, yeah, it’s a tough one. 

I don’t want to make ECB the bad guys here because $100,000 for any nation, un-budgeted, is big. I’m not sure we should be pointing at the ECB saying it was their responsibility to be footing the bill for this. I think it goes broader and wider actually with it being on the sport’s shoulders to create something to help in situations like that and the fact that an ODI fund had been discussed I think in the last 2-3 years and nothing has come of that, I think it’s much more the ICC and then within that the full members to agree, similar to what the ACC is doing even though the ACC as we know it doesn’t exist, but even from an event point of view, with having the full members reinvest 2% of their earnings back in to the pot that goes towards development of the associate members within the ACC membership, so I think this is an all-in, all for one one for all point of view here, where with the ECB, the chance that we got to play them was great and the fact that they picked the best team they could, and that Hong Kong was able to compete for 80-90% of the game, which again shows how much and how far we’ve come along, and similar with the T20 with Pakistan. And again nobody is talking about Pakistan not doing the same thing as vociferously as they are about the ECB, and again we played Pakistan in the 2008 Asia cup in ODIs and we were beaten soundly, but again we competed with Pakistand and it was that last 10-15% of the game that made the difference. So yeah, look, it’s frustrating, I would have loved that to be an ODI exactly as I wrote, it was really the perfect storm of bad circumstances. The fact that Pakistan were hosting the series and the Emirates cricket board were acting as the hosts, and then the ECB touring, so many cooks there, and then you’ve got the ICC there in Dubai as well, and Richard Done, the  high performance manager for the ICC in trying to get those fixtures sorted for the associates…

SJ: Let me ask you this. In such situations, I understand it’s a tough situation, not enough time to sort it out, etc, but when it comes to such situations when you are representative of an emerging cricketing nation, in terms of economics you’re not as strong as some of the other ones that you are dealing with, what kind of bargaining chips do you have? Let’s say you are faced with dealing with BCCI or ECB or Cricket Australia or whatever, basically you don’t want to hurt their feelings, you don’t want to make public statements, I understand all of that obviously, but you go in to a situation where you don’t have any bargaining chips.

TC: It’s true, and I think they’ve stopped using the term “minnows” now, which is good, but like in business that’s the position we’re in at the moment. It’s a very commercial model there and the funding around and also the amount of money that goes into organizing a full member, shall we say, or a Test playing member nation tour. Anyway so from our point of view, if we had longer to organize it I would’ve been confident in terms of sponsorship, we would have been able to find someone that would have been interested, but also that would have meant that it would’ve needed to be televised, which had never been discussed either. Which makes it hard too. How do you get value for sponsors beyond the feel-good value unless they are going to get the exposure they deserve supporting something like that? 

Bargaining chip is tough, and that’s why opportunities like relaxing the sponsorship restrictions on our clothing in the World T20 qualifier – instead of having the only one sponsor on the arm we should have been allowed normal ODI T20 status and have a full sponsor on the front of the shirt, just little things that we can begin to tick off like that. Even the ACC and the Asia cup we’ve got a qualification between the four T20I asian nations, UAE, Oman, us and, Afghanistan and after that round robin the top team will go through and play against the main member nations making a five team tournament. Why do we not have an eight team tournament of T20 cricket, perfect preparation for the World T20? 

Countries like UAE that are already prepared to leave, or countries like Oman that have already prepared for tours even before the World T20, assuming they are going to lose. Like us, I’m guessing Afghanistan too, we don’t know what we are going to be doing for our prep tour, depending on what happens there. So there is money that is potentially going to be lost. Lost by us or lost by the people we engaged in India to host our prep tour because we don’t know what is happening there, and it puts us in a very bad position. You need to have bargaining chips. Give us an opportunity to play a main tournament there amongst the Asian nations that is being televised, that is worth a lot of money, that gives us not only the opportunity to be part of that spectacle for our players development but the commercial development for us to be able to find sponsors that will then support us from the World T20, the Asia cup, into the market. Hong Kong vs. India, can you imagine the commercial value of what that is if it’s televised in India? And then into the World T20 as well. In a 16 team World T20, with the game, and the support, and that takes three hours, why we can’t turn that into a 16 team, whether it’s four groups of four, two groups of eight, it wouldn’t take long. You get a round robin within two groups of eight, and have an opportunity for the Associates or qualifying countries to play against the main nations. 

Honestly, i  just don’t get it. From a commercial point of view I think we could be given a lot more opportunities without too much change, which would then, you talk about bargaining chips, then when we’ve got the money in our coffers we can then cover the cost from our business, because it is a business, but from our business to cover the cost of an ODI along those lines which then in itself provides additional commercial opportunities. It’s a fairly logical solution to me. 

SJ: It’s like if you are outside the top ten or whatever, you have to succeed despite the system.

TC: Basically, yes.

SJ: We’ll put as many obstacles as possible in front of you, and you won’t have the resources, but you still have to somehow succeed. It’s completely back-asswards. Making me angry. *Laughs*

TC: *Laughs* and I appreciate how much guys like you, Tim Wigmore, Peter Della Penna, Peter Miller all are about this and it’s great we have journalists like yourselves really buying our cause and I appreciate that.

SJ: Finally, Tim, do you set goals for the teams performances as the CEO or do you leave it up to the coaches and you don’t interfere with that at all? And if you do or don’t, what are your hopes for Hong Kong both on and off the field in 2016?

TC: Well, like any corporate structure that would be the person who is responsible, that is Charlie Burke who is director of cricket and all those KPIs, teams goals very much sit with him and we’ve just imported Simon Cook, as I’m sure you’ve read. He’s come on as full time head coach as well, so we have a great team there. So there are definitely goals there. 

I’d say from the basic point of view we want to be able to maintain ODI status at the end of this world cricket league cycle. To me that means we’ll need to finish in the top half, again we don’t even know what the qualification requirements are going to be, but that’s top half of world cricket league. Whether that then guarantees ODI status I’m not sure, but whatever half we’re given, at the moment it’s simple–we’ve gotta win all our games as we possibly can and we’re going to make sure we’ve got the best teams possible. The I-cup I think is probably where we’re going to be weakest, but if we can finish in the top half of the table, that’d be great for our development. And while I don’t think it’s a short term goal or a realistic goal for us to be able to finish in the top one or two there, the skills the boys are going to learn there on the field of the I-cup are going to help us in our 50 over cricket just as much in the way of building in innings and how you can structure that. Now that World T20s gone out to four years I think we’re one of the stronger associate members with the T20 game when we get it right. I think Andrew Nixon and Russ Degnan hit the nail on the head when they talked about us, we expect to either beat anybody or lose to anybody, that was evident in the qualifiers. Losing to Jersey and the USA but beating Ireland and Afghanistan. We need to get our consistency up and make sure we’re at the leading edge. 

To get through in to the main group [of World T20 2016] is a stretch target shall we call it. It’s a great group; Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, and Scotland. I don’t think you could create a more even group at the moment in T20 cricket. You couldn’t even say there’s a favorite there. You could maybe say Afghanistan because of their recent performances, but we’ve beaten them the last two times we’ve played them. You could say Scotland again, they beat us in the semi-final, but this is in completely different conditions. So I think in terms of quality cricket that’s going to be great. But again, it’s got to be our goal to qualify for the next world T20. That’s from a men’s T20 point of view but we’ve also got a great Under-19 team coming through and we’ll have a couple qualifying tournaments there on the path to the next Under 19 world cup and then also our ladies are getting better by the day as well, so there’s a tournament coming up later in the year too that we have the potential to host out of the four or five nations that will be in it. So we’re getting a lot more regular international cricket. So on the few goals that are relatively simple, which is not so much if you’re lower in the world cricket league structure with the uncertainty there I know coming up, so that’a  tough one, but we’re very lucky in that we’re able to play our tours and are a little bit further ahead than we used to be. Those goals that are very real, I think anyone who has any knowledge of Hong Kong cricket, they’re fairly easy to identify targets. 

SJ: Tim, I wish you all the very best this year and for the years to come, and wish you the best for your team in the World T20 and Asia Cup, and thank you so much for being on the show. 

TC: No problems! I just want to finish very quickly with us hosting our first ever ODI, First class and T20 cricket in Hong Kong coming up later this month. We should be streaming the one day internationals and the T20 internationals Hong Kong Vs. Scotland on the 26th and 28th of January for the one day internationals and the T20s will be on the 30th and 31st. So if you live in Hong Kong, get on and buy those tickets and get out there and see it, but otherwise I hope to see lots of you guys logging on and watching us online. 

SJ: I will certainly! Thanks so much Tim.

TC: I know YOU will be! Thanks a lot. 

SJ: Cheers!

TC: Great, speak to you soon.