This has enabled the Templars to create a new team culture and atmosphere dictated by higher standards, principles and values. This new team ethos has been well-executed by the young players as their energy, enthusiasm, dedication and hunger to perform has led to numerous outstanding individual performances, many cricketers playing well beyond expectation, but more importantly, led to several commendable team performances.
The Templars had a decent year given the relative inexperience of the majority of players in the side, with 4 wins and 7 losses and finishing 8th / 11 teams for the season.
Despite the lack of experience in the side (at times with the unavailability of key senior players, the average age of the team playing was close to 17), it was incredibly heartening to see the young cricketers show some strength of character, to bounce back from the early heavy losses against Wanderers and Vagabonds with some key team performances to generate wins against Optimists, Infidels and Sri Lanka CC. Furthermore, there were several matches where the Templars came rather close to upsetting many of the well-established teams in the league, such as Pakistan Assoc. and Scorpions. Several games were also rain affected which could have resulted in a different story. Thus, it is encouraging to mention that although the team is fairly raw, the players did compete with a certain spirit, grit and feistiness throughout the season - a never-say-die attitude has unquestionably become instilled in the new Templars. The side is swiftly learning from their first season and it is certainly fuelling their determination to improve and toughen up.
There were several highlights this season, most of which occurred during the game against the KCC Infidels, whereby a strong team performance secured Templars of a much needed morale-boosting victory, especially after having lost four in a row. Kapil Shukla, Kinchit Shah and Sunny Bhimsaria showed much strength and determination to pull off a great victory from a desperately challenging position. The win provided much needed confidence for the team, especially when several key players were abroad in New Zealand at the U19 World Cup finals.
The other significant highlight of the season belonged to Kinchit Shah’s masterful solo exhibition of batting against a strong Optimists side, where he gracefully cut, drove and defied his way to a classy 71*. It was an incredible performance for a 14 yr. old playing in his first HK Sunday League season, as he batted for 36 overs to notch up Templars’ 2nd win of the year. It comes as no coincidence that Kinchit recently scored a glorious 105 against a touring Singapore side in the U15 International Competition, and has also won this year’s Dragon of the Year award at the HKCA Annual Awards.
There have also been some other honourable mentions for the season, with Miten Khatri being most impressive behind the stumps and has adopted a tremendous work ethic. Not only does he have a solid batting technique, he certainly has all the elements and potential for developing into a top class wicket keeper. He also performed exceptionally well as captain of the HKU16s in the ACC Elite Trophy held in Nepal earlier this year.
Both Ninad Shah and Ateeq Ul-Rehman have also responded especially well in their first season as bowlers. Ninad is developing into a dangerous and confident all-rounder whilst Ateeq is maturing into a clever 1st change bowler, brimming with variation in changes of pace. For Ninad, performing in the men’s league at the tender age of 12 is already an extremely praiseworthy achievement and has continued to impress at training as well as at the international U15 level.
Last but not least, Aditya Kanthan and Ashish Gadhia were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in the U19 World Cup held in New Zealand at the beginning of the year. Hong Kong has never competed at the highest level before, and both players performed extremely well, particularly Ashish, who managed to score 59 against USA, 46 against Afghanistan and Canada, as well as becoming HK’s joint highest wicket taker. KCC and Templars are extremely proud of their accomplishments at the World Cup.
Despite the fact that the Templars ended up in the lower range of the points’ table, overall, it has been an exciting and fulfilling year with plenty to look forward to in the forth-coming season. The season has given way to the rise of several new talented young cricketers, and has presented them with plenty of opportunities to stand out. But more importantly, it has provided the players with experience as well as a vital stepping-stone in their cricketing development.
Truthfully speaking, it was never going to be smooth sailing for this new Templars side, but through perseverance and diligence, we have evolved to become a stronger unit. The new players have adapted well, gelled together rapidly to form a strong team core, and have gained considerable momentum with their willingness to work hard. Several Templars have already been identified and selected to take part in an innovative U23 leadership program led by Head Coach Peter Wooden over summer, where their skills and potential are further polished and developed.
All in all, it is extremely reassuring and gratifying to know that many of these budding players have the ingredients to becoming top cricketers, leaders and will undoubtedly go on to represent Hong Kong at the international level. There is still quite some way to go, but nevertheless, I strongly believe that as a KCC team we will grow from strength to strength.
“This young, impressive Templars side is surely going to become a champion side in a few years time.’’ Perhaps these encouraging words of Phil Pemberton, the captain of the HKCC Scorpions, may come true.
To conclude, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Simon Scanlon, Afzaal Haider and the rest of the Templars senior players for their support throughout the year. I look forward to the next exciting cricket season, and hopefully, we shall see the Templars further excel.
- Roy Lamsam, Templars' Captain 2009-10 season