Hong Kong pick 44 year old batting coach for World T20
Hong Kong have made a surprise selection for the upcoming World Twenty20 tournament in the shape of their batting coach - and former Australia international - Ryan Campbell.
Campbell - who turns 44 next week - played two ODIs for Australia in 2002 and spent 10 years playing for Western Australia. He had a season in the Indian Cricket League before moving to Hong Kong, where he has played for (and coached) Kowloon Cricket Club since 2012.
In a video posted on the Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA) website, Campbell said that he'd been inspired to attempt an international return by former Western Australia teammate Brad Hogg, who is a year older than Campbell and still playing regularly in Twenty20 leagues.
He pointed out that he has Chinese ancestry, with his grandmother being Chinese and his great-grandfather having been born in Kowloon. In the video he said, "Going through my family trees it does make me feel a part of this country and especially as my son was born here, I feel very proud to represent Hong Kong."
In a press release on the HKCA website, head coach Simon Cook said "His form in Hong Kong has been good in Premier League and Sunday games for Kowloon Cricket Club. One of the things that we learned about our last WT20 tournament is that having that ability to think clearly in high pressure situations is critical and Ryan's experience will be an enormous help in that regard."
Hong Kong are in a qualifying group with Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Scotland for the World Twenty20. They are also set for a qualifying tournament for the Asia Cup Twenty20 tournament, though Campbell will not be featuring in that event.
Whilst the experience Campbell will bring to the squad will be welcome, it is bound to attract some criticism. Hong Kong have (unfairly) been maligned as a team of "ex=pats" in the past, which isn't really accurate as most of the squad is made up of players either born in Hong Kong or who learnt their cricket there.
Campbell's selection will do little to dissuade people of that reputation. It is also likely to provide ammunition for the anti-associate cause. When USA selected their 46 year old bowling coach for WCL Division 3 in 2011, they were roundly criticised. It is hard to avoid doing the same in this case.