Former Ireland men’s captain and NSW Blues coach Trent Johnston will take over the head coach role from next month as the Hong Kong men prepare for the T20 World Cup Qualifiers to be held in the United Arab Emirates from 11 October – 3 November, it was announced by Cricket Hong Kong today.

The man who skippered a team of amateurs past the might of Pakistan and to the Super 8s of the 2007 Cricket World Cup will have to channel all his skills and experience as he takes on the challenge of leading a team recently relegated to the third tier of 50 over cricket.

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After placing fifth at World Cricket League Divison 2, Hong Kong is now in Challange League B (second from bottom left) with Kenya, Uganda, Jersey, Bermuda and Italy (Graphic: ICC)

After retiring from playing international cricket in 2013, the Australian-born Johnston coached the Ireland Women and took on a part-time appointment as National Academy Fast Bowling coach.

Following a brief professional domestic career for New South Wales, Johnston made his international debut for Ireland in 2004 after relocating to what was then an amateur cricketing nation. Twelve years, 67 ODIs, 33 First Class matches and 30 T20 Internationals later, he moved back to Australia to coach his home state, winning two domestic one day trophies, but departed the role in March 2018.

He replaces former Middlesex and Kent fast bowler Simon Cook who worked with the Hong Kong side for over five years, first as a specialist bowling consultant alongside his head coach role with the Hong Kong Cricket Club, and as full time men’s coach for the national side from late 2015.

Commenting on the appointment, Johnston said, “I am excited to be taking the next step of my coaching career in Hong Kong.

“Cricket Hong Kong has great potential and a highly talented elite player group. I look forward to working closely with the players and management team to prepare for the T20 World Cup qualifiers in the short-term and to help develop future generations of Hong Kong cricketers to continue the team’s rise in the global standings.”

Besides the side’s qualification for the 2018 Asia Cup and nearly toppling heavyweights India in the group stages, overall, it has been a period to forget for Hong Kong since a promising World Cricket League Championship saw them place third – and only one result away from snaring top spot, and therefore the 13th place in the 2020-21 ICC CWC Super League.

Their final WCLC position ensured a spot at the Cricket World Cup qualifier held in Zimbabwe during March 2018, and despite defeating eventual champs Afghanistan the East Asian team failed to win another game. They not only came last, but also lost their ODI status, and missed one of the three places on offer in the seven team 2019-21 CWC League 2. These were filled by Scotland, UAE and Nepal.

With redemption available through the six team World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia, Hong Kong needed only to finish in the top four to regain their ODI status and League 2 spot, as well as to receive over $700,000 in the next round of ICC event-linked funding.

Despite making a promising start to the April event with a comprehensive victory over Canada, the Anshuman Rath-led side lost their remaining six matches, including conceding almost 400 against tournament hosts and eventual champions Namibia in their final group match.

Alongside Canada who placed fifth, Hong Kong will now receive around half a million dollars less than each of Namibia, Oman, PNG and USA who all gained ODI status and places in CWC League 2 after finishing in the top four at WCL2.

Mark Farmer, recently appointed as Cricket Hong Kong’s High Performance Manager welcomed Johnston’s appointment.

“Trent is a highly respected and established cricketer and coach who brings with him a wealth of experience. He is enthusiastic about this new opportunity and has a clearly articulated vision for driving Cricket Hong Kong forward.

We are looking to rebuild and push towards regaining ODI status. We believe Trent has the experience, skill and ambition to take us forward to achieve this common goal.

The appointment follows an extensive recruitment process and the selection panel was impressed by the number and quality of applicants. Trent will be an invaluable addition to Cricket Hong Kong and I look forward to welcoming him on board.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Simon Cook for his hard work and commitment to Cricket Hong Kong and wish him and his family the very best as they relocate back to the United Kingdom.”

AND in more USA news, beyond the announcement of a new CEO, and the departure of their head coach Pubudu Dassanayake, it was also learnt today that Wade Edwards will move away from his responsibilities within the men’s program. The Australian will remain with USA Cricket alongside Project Manager Eric Parthen while new CEO Iain Higgins conducts a full organisational review, when he begins in the role in early September.

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