Cricket: Hong Kong internationals make brave move to chase Blackcaps dream

New Zealand's most-decorated cricketing secondary school has a different look in 2021 with more than a quarter of the Christchurch Boys High School first XI made up of players who've already represented the Hong Kong's men's team. 

Three teenagers made the bold move to come to New Zealand over a year ago with the dream of playing for the Blackcaps and this week they got a taste of what life could be like. 

They might look like your standard, talented first XI cricketers but these players aren't as they've had a taste of international cricket. 

"In 2019, I played against Bangladesh and then Nepal plus a couple of games in the T20s as well," Raunaq Kapur says.

"I played Shivam Mavi who is a fast bowler in the Indian Premier League," Aarush Bhagwat says.

The dream is very much alive for these players but they know the journey will be a long one. 

"It's a long, hard journey but it's something I want to do," he says says.

Cricket is a fast growing sport in Hong Kong but the cricketing circle in the country is still small, as the trio knew each other well before making the journey from Hong Kong to Christchurch last year.

"On this field [at Christchurch Boys High] alone, there are more grass wickets than in the whole of Kong," Bhagwat adds. 

"We used to play at 5:30pm every day, Monday to Sunday," Kalhan Marc Challu says. 

The commitment to the game has seen them uproot lives and make the bold move to New Zealand to fulfil their dream.

If they can do it, they won't be the first to do so with current Blackcap Mark Chapman making the same move from Hong Kong as a teenager.  

"It was my dream when I was living in Hong Kong as well," Chapman says. "I always supported the Blackcaps." 

He's not new to the next batch of Hong Kong hopefuls either.

"Their parents reached out to me and said they were thinking of sending their boys here," he says. "I met with them before they came over and have kept in touch with them ever since they've been here."

This week two of the trio got their own taste of their dream as they put their bowling skills to the test against the Blackcaps. 

"It was a great experience and I learned a lot from them," Kapur says. "You learn so much from seeing how they train so you try to pick up as much as you can.

"It's nice to get a couple of wickets as well, some of the guys you see score hundreds on TV, nice to know you can get them out."

It's an experience they definitely wouldn't be able to replicate at home but this move hasn't come without some challenges. 

"You do miss home sometimes and especially with COVID-19 and that sort of stuff happening because the idea was I would go back during breaks," Challu says.

With COVID-19 closing the New Zealand border it means they haven't seen their parents in well over a year.

But the boys are hoping it's not long until they're able to visit and maybe one day see them wear the silver fern.

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