Sydney: Ming Li on Monday became the first Chinese cricketer to join Australia’s Twenty20 Big Bash League.
The Sydney Sixers hired Li, 24, for the southern summer season under the Cricket Australia rookie programme.
Li has played cricket since 2004 and made his debut for Hong Kong in 2010, followed by selection for the 2010 Guangzhou and 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
A right-arm legspinner, his fascination with cricket came from watching his idol Shane Warne on YouTube, modelling his action on the legspin legend.
“I’d like to thank the Hong Kong Cricket Association, the Sydney Sixers and Cricket Australia for offering me this fantastic opportunity with one of the leading Big Bash League clubs,” said Li.
“Playing in this competition and being involved with such a professional outfit will really help improve my cricketing skills, knowledge and experience.”
Dominic Remond, the Sydney Sixers general manager, felt the signing of Ming would play a key role in Cricket’s Sport For All strategy and creating pathways for up and coming cricketers. “We are very excited to work with the Hong Kong Cricket Association in identifying Ming as an emerging player of talent,” said Remond.
“We know it will be an experience of a life time for him and offer our Club and supporters an insight into a different cricketing culture.”
Tim Cutler, CEO of the Hong Kong Cricket Association and a former Sydney first grade cricketer for Easts, suggested that Li would also greatly benefit from knowing how some of the best T20 players go about their business. “This is one of the most exciting developments in Hong Kong Cricket history … We believe this is the first time any Hong Kong sportsperson has participated in such an elite ‘franchise’ tournament and we can’t wait to see the positive effect Ming’s BBL involvement will have on the already rapid development within the growing Chinese cricket community.
“With the Hong Kong team competing in next year’s ICC World Twenty20, it will not only give Ming a head start in preparations but also allow him an insight into some of the best players in T20 cricket.”
Li became the first ethnic Chinese to take part in an official T20 match when Hong Kong played Afghanistan in Sharjah during the 2012 ICC World Cup qualifiers. His sister, Godiva, has represented Hong Kong Women in both Asian Games.
The Big Bash League gets under way on December 17.
Hong Kong have qualified for the ICC World T20 2016 in India.