Hong Kong's preparations for their upcoming Intercontinental Cup match against the UAE continued today in Abu Dhabi with a warm-up match against England.
With the penniless ECB unable to scrape together enough money to pay the match fees of their players, the match wasn't an official ODI despite Hong Kong's ODI status. England didn't even have the decency to make it a proper match, instead making it a 13 a side contest.
There wasn't even a toss, with England batting first by prior agreement in this first ever match (outside the Hong Kong Sixes) between the two teams Dermot Reeve represented at international level.
Jason Roy and Alex Hales opened the batting for England, putting on 63 before Roy was trapped lbw by Hong Kong captain Tanwir Afzal. Hales went on to score 64 before he was the second man out - bowled by Anshuman Rath - for 64. He helped Joe Root put on 77 for the second wicket.
Moeen Ali helped give the England innings some impetus later on, clubbing 71 from 36 balls. Haseeb Amjad and Anshuman Rath came in for some stick, both going at almost nine runs an over. Both took two wickets though, as did Tanwir Afzal.
The final England total was 342-8 from their 50 overs. Hong Kong were unlikely to ever get near that total, and were bowled out for 173, losing by 169 runs. Babar Hayat at least had something to talk about, scoring 78 from 81 balls before he was bowled by Chris Woakes.
The match will have been good experience for Hong Kong, but the lack of ODI status for this fixture between two sides with ODI status leaves something of a sour taste in the mouth. Reports are that Hong Kong said in the post match press conference that they requested the game not be an ODI. Given what I'd heard from within Hong Kong cricket ahead of the game, that is almost certainly a line written for them by the ECB in order to save face.
The ECB had a chance to make even a token gesture towards global development. It's sad - but not surprising that they chose to do otherwise. When Babar Hayat tells any future grandchildren about the time he scored 78 against England, the record books won't show it.
England now have an ODI series against Pakistan to contend with, whilst Hong Kong have an Intercontinental Cup match against hosts UAE at the ICC Academy ground, starting on Wednesday.
England beat Hong Kong by 169 runs
Sheikh Zayed Stadium Nursery Oval 1, Abu Dhabi, 8 November
England 342-8 (50 overs, M Ali 71, A Hales 64, J Roy 42)
Hong Kong 173 (40.2 overs, Babar Hayat 78, D Willey 4-43)